To say that pearls look sublime is an understatement. They are among the few naturally occurring materials that literally glow, using light to their full advantage (much like perfectly cut diamonds). The shiny exterior is known as a nacre layer — an organic-inorganic composite material produced by select shellfish as an inner shell lining.
But, here’s the catch about nacre and pearls: that outer layer looks good, but it’s very delicate. Its Mohs Hardness grade of 2.5 means that almost anything could scratch a pearl — even a fingernail. That’s okay, you have Hal Davis Jewelers and other jewelry repair pros, right? Unfortunately, repairing chipped pearls is not that simple.
Chipping is Irreversible
When the pearl’s outer nacre shell is chipped, it cannot be restored. The damage is more or less permanent; the chipped shells can’t be glued back on, and the damaged part can’t be smoothed or buffed out. Some even choose to fill the chipped part in using glue or fingernail polish. What this futile effort leaves is simply a mess, which ruins the pearl’s look in the first place.
What a jeweler can do, however, is to find a replacement. But, this is no walk in the park, either. Pearls come in a wide variety of colors and shapes. This makes it tough to find a perfect match for a damaged pearl. Jewelers must find something that matches in terms of size, luster, color, quality and shape.
Trying To Find A Solution
All hope is not lost, however. A few pearl manufacturers are actually experimenting with nacre reconstruction. Since nacre is a naturally occurring material, researchers are placing chipped pearls into an oyster to see if it can re-coat the pearl with another nacre layer. To understand this, it would help to know how oysters form pearls. When a foreign object gets inside it, the oyster’s lining gets irritated. To protect itself, it coats the irritant with a layer of nacre.
Restringing Pearls: A Different Story
The fact that pearls can get easily chipped further stresses the need to take care of them. It’s because the only problem with pearl jewelry those jewelers can help with is when they get de-strung. Restringing pearls is easy with a pro — and safe, too.