Chicago Tribune (Sunday)
How to make your pearls shine like they’re brand-new
Dear Answer Angel Ellen: My mom gave me her string of cultured pearls, but they look kind of dirty. How do I clean them? Or, can they even be cleaned?
— Lucy C.
Dear Lucy: Your question gives me an opening to repeat some advice I’ve given my own sisters: Wear your “good” jewelry; don’t just tuck it in a drawer for special occasions. This is especially true for jewelry classics like your mom’s pearl necklace. If you don’t wear it, what’s the point of having it in the first place?
Back to your question: Pearls are delicate, so you’ll want to treat them gently. Jewelers recommend frequent wear to keep them from drying out and retaining their luster. To keep them shiny, wipe them with a soft cloth after every wearing. For cleaning, use a slightly damp soft cloth dipped in lukewarm water mixed with a little dishwashing soap.
Don’t submerge the pearls in the liquid since that will weaken the silk thread they are knotted on. Dry before storing and store them flat (not hanging) in a fabric-lined compartment/jewelry box — or a case specifically designed for pearls so they won’t get nicked or scratched.
Also, keep them away from your hair spray, makeup, body lotion and perfume. Apply all that and let it dry before putting on those pearls. If you follow these easy care steps and periodically check that the silk thread is solid and the pearls don’t need to be restrung, this heirloom necklace can be passed on to the next generation.
Dear Answer Angel Ellen:
I’ve not bought shoes online before, but I’m tempted. Yet, I worry that I won’t get the right size. When I buy shoes in person, depending upon the brand, I may need a 10 or a 10 ½. If it’s tricky in person, how can I be comfortable ordering online? I know they take returns, but should I bother in the first place?
— Jerald J.
Dear Jerald: Online shopping is convenient, efficient, and, if free returns are part of the deal, riskfree. Buying shoes in person from local storefront merchants, especially those struggling because of COVID-19, is a noble goal but not always possible. After determining that the online vendor pays the return postage (read the fine print) consider ordering the same shoes in a 10 and 10 ½ and return the ones that don’t fit.
Reader Alice S. offers a solution to a common problem: a blouse that buttons up the front but gaps slightly. (This works only if you can put the blouse on by slipping it over your head.) “Sew the opening shut. It just takes a few small tack stitches along the seam line of the placket.”
Now it’s your turn
Send your questions, rants, tips, favorite finds — on style, shopping, makeup, fashion and beauty — to answerangelellen@gmail. com.