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"Repearlize" vintage pearls


I have been trying to find out if there is a way to repearlize
vintage pearls that are in costume jewelry? I fix vintage jewelry,
but a successful way to repaint man-made pearls stumps me. Any
or tips you could provide would be appreciated.

Mary Rose Van Fleet

Mary Rose, Many years ago, I had a favored faux pearl ring set in
Sterling. Eventually the pearl began to chip, not being in a position
to buy either a new pearl or ring, I decided to peel away all of the
"faux" and then “pearlize” the remaining bead. To do this, I used
platinum shade pearlized nail polish. Thinking like an Oyster, I made
many layers, letting each one dry before applying the next. Took a
couple of days to get the look I remembered. The end result was very
natural appearing, and lasted a very long time. I smile thinking
about it. Teresa

Hello Mary, The process used to put the pearlized finish on faux
pearls, to my knowledge, cannot be done by you or me successfully in
the studio and even if you could, you’d still have the problem of
color matching. The best faux pearls are made of glass and the
coating is bonded to the glass which makes those the most stable.
There are many levels of quality to faux pearls and most of them will
eventually start to lose their coating. When the lower quality
plastic pearls decide to shed their skin, it comes off in big flakes.
I keep a large stock of replacement pearls on hand because there are
so many different colors and sizes used in vintage jewelry.

If it’s a piece where the pearl is glued in, it’s easy to replace
(just disclose the repair). Designers like Miriam Haskell and Robert
used lots of the plastic pearls (good quality) and if you are
familiar with those designers you know their stuff is often wired in
place so you can’t really change the pearls…you just have to be
with how it is.

There is also the issue of devaluing it because it’s been repaired.
I had an unsigned but extremely lovely faux pearl and rhinestone
necklace that started to chip in earnest. I restrung it with glass
faux pearls from the same period and noted that in the information
when I sold it. My buyer didn’t mind at all…but she was informed.
If it’s a signed piece, I’d be wary of changing anything unless the
"parts" came from another damaged piece from the same designer. For
instance, if I have a Hollycraft pin and it needs a pale yellow stone
replaced, there is no way I can just pop out any yellow stone from
any other designer and plop it into a Hollycraft without it being
totally obvious. If you have been given a piece to repair, then the
collector knows what is happening and simply wants their piece to
look better, so replacing stones if the money is there for the
operation is really the best way to go. (IMHO)