pearls in the freezer, i know i know - it's ludicrous
January 18, 2007 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Will pearls - regular, black and other types, both freshwater and non - be damaged by freezing for extended periods of time? We're not talking deep-freeze, just the temperature (or range of temperatures) in your average home kitchen freezer.
posted by luriete to Science & Nature (19 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Pearl are essentially Calcium-enriched grains of sand. So, no, I don't think freezing them would cause any lasting damage. The real question is why you would want to hide something so beautiful in the freezer.

If it's to stave off thieves, there are better places to hide them. Like a safe-deposit box at the bank.
posted by parmanparman at 3:02 PM on January 18, 2007

My instincts scream no; I have the feeling that extremes of temperature in either direction could damage the nacre. This guy seems to agree, though he does say that in his research, nacre showed more resilience in the face of temperature changes than one would expect. One way to settle the question: you could always throw a few damaged, cheap, or unusable pearls in the freezer for a while and see what happens. In fact, I have a couple unusable ones around--you want I should throw them in the freezer and see what happens?
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:16 PM on January 18, 2007

I had forgotten about Nacre. Thanks for pointing that out, Powerful Religious Baby.
posted by parmanparman at 3:28 PM on January 18, 2007

I do have some junky old white pearls I can try that with. Yes, if you wouldn't mind doing the same with yours for 2 or 3 days, I'd certainly appreciate it! Thanks!
posted by luriete at 3:34 PM on January 18, 2007

No problem. Will report back!
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 3:39 PM on January 18, 2007

posted by luriete at 4:39 PM on January 18, 2007

The curiosity is killing me — why would you put pearls in the freezer?
posted by Brittanie at 7:26 PM on January 18, 2007

every other location has been burgled multiple times, and i can't afford a safe-deposit box, nor do i have anywhere else that i can put them for now.
posted by luriete at 10:30 PM on January 18, 2007

every other location has been burgled multiple times

Yikes, where do you live, that every location in your house/apartment has been burgled MULTIPLE times? How many dozen times have you been robbed?
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:50 PM on January 18, 2007

If you're really looking to hide things, why not either booksafes or "Diversion Safes"; those false cans of hairspray/ shave gel/ WD-40? You could buy them or make them yourself, and it's better than the freezer by far.

ps I am still interested to see what--if anything--happens to the chilly pearls.
posted by exlotuseater at 12:13 AM on January 19, 2007

i can't afford a safe-deposit box
My BoA checking account (it's a basic level acount) comes with a free security box. You may want to see if your bank can provide the same. (Although it's not refrigerated AFAIK :).)
posted by NailsTheCat at 7:41 AM on January 19, 2007

I think I'm missing something. What's the deal with the smithslyrics tag? (IANASmithsFan)
posted by grateful at 8:03 AM on January 19, 2007

What's the deal with the smithslyrics tag?.
I'm guessing the thread subject is an allusion to...'Girlfriend in a coma... I know, I know it's serious'.
Frankly, Mr Shankly it was tenuous. You Just Haven't Earned It Yet Baby.
posted by NailsTheCat at 8:29 AM on January 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Okay, so I put an assortment of pearls (both dyed and undyed, since that could theoretically affect their reactions) in a plastic bag and threw it into the freezer. I don't have a camera, else I would have taken a picture of the pearls before they were frozen for comparison, but I'll just compare them to their unfrozen brethren when I take them out.

That is terrible about the robberies. I second exlotuseater's idea about false-bottom safes, and also NailsTheCat's idea about your bank. There must be a better way, though I am now 100% interested in what happens to a pearl when it's frozen.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 9:49 AM on January 19, 2007

I will pick up a false-bottom safe - good idea.

Our house has been burgled three times; we changed the locks, as we think they somehow had a key the first time, and it happened again, without any damage to doors or windows. The third time, we think a door was unlocked and my wife was asleep in the early AM (I had gotten up early and left for work).

They totally cleaned us out - I had an ENORMOUS collection of criterion and rare foreign DVDs, which insurance did not cover as I bought many out of the country and had only partial receipts. Also my camera collection, my Nikons and digital and all my lenses and bodies (including a Leica Elmarit super wideangle.. that was a nice lens!) and three generations' worth of jewelry.

I spent more than I can on an alarm system now which gives false alarms almost once a week from a motion sensor which they claimed would not be set off by cats but which does, regularly, and the police dept charges us $50 per false alarm.

My bank is a credit union and does not have safe deposit boxes :(

and yes the girlfriend in a coma lyric was in my head when i wrote the question title ... i know, i know, it's tenuous.

But since I have been driven close to madness and paranoid insanity by having my house broken into regularly (and it's a sturdy frickin house, heavy doors, deadbolts, screwlock/thumblock security clamps on the windows, etc.), i am considering everything as a potential safe.

maybe i should cut up some hardwood floor very carefully and make a secret hidey-hole underneath.
posted by luriete at 11:28 AM on January 19, 2007

also, i'm worried that a diversion safe will get tossed by someone accidentally when they realize that pushing the button on top does not dispense whatever it should.. uh oh.
posted by luriete at 11:29 AM on January 19, 2007

That's awful. There are door handle alarms that make noise. if you have other books, I'd store stuff in a hollowed out book. I kept money in a hollowed out large book, and it was untouched when I was robbed the 2nd time. You could also put them in a baggie, then inside a big jar of rice.
posted by theora55 at 3:06 PM on January 19, 2007

Technicality: burglary != robbery. Burglary is theft by trespassing at night; robbery is theft by assault. Sub-technicality: Assault includes the threat of violence, as well as the act.


posted by eritain at 8:02 PM on January 21, 2007

My Instincts: 0
Reality: 1

Okay, so I went ahead and left the pearls in the freezer for nearly a full two weeks--whenever I checked on them they seemed to be totally fine, but I kept uneasily waiting for a shoe of doom to drop, so the experiment ended up taking longer than I expected. Anyway, after two weeks, I see no change whatsoever in the pearls: no change in color, texture, shape, or size. I even tapped one with a little hammer to see if it had gone brittle; it was as resilient as an unfrozen pearl. I don't know how useful these results will be to a person who wants to store their pearls in a freezer long-term, because my gut still tells me that that's not a good idea, but my gut has shown its true colors in the last few weeks as a know-nothing craphead. I still have a nagging feeling that freezing might have caused some kind of secret, theoretical damage that might show up in the future, but as far as I can tell, the pearls survived fully intact.

How did yours do? The same? Maybe I'll keep mine in there until they hatch or turn to dust or something.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 10:35 AM on February 2, 2007

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