Pearls are the world's only organic gemstones and, therefore, tend to be quite delicate; proper care is essential to ensure your pearl jewelry investment will last a lifetime. In this article, we will show you how to clean pearls, as well as tips on how to do it safely and avoid ruining them.

Why You Should Clean Your Pearls

Real pearls are organic gems, which means they are grown in the ocean by oysters and mussels, unlike fake pearls, they require no maintenance because they are made of glass, plastic, or shells that has a pearl-like coating, which eventually fades away. As a result, pearls are susceptible to staining and discoloration, which can be difficult to remove. If you clean your pearls regularly, you can avoid these stain build-ups and keep your pearls looking pristine.

If you own a string of cultured pearls or have a pair as an important piece of cultured pearl jewelry, then you know how much they demand care and attention to keep them looking pristine.

Here is how to clean your beautiful pearls at home so that they stay in perfect condition.

How to Clean Pearls

Whether it's a pearl necklace, pearl earrings, or a pearl bracelet, it's a good practice to clean them after wearing them with a soft cloth to remove any oil residue, if you don't, the luster of your pearl will become dull over time. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Gently wipe the pearls with a soft cloth after wearing them. Preventing the buildup of body oils or other substances that may have come in contact throughout the day.
  2. Only clean with a damp cloth as needed. If your pearls are visibly stained, you can wipe them clean with lukewarm water and a mild dish soap mixture and gently rub the pearls using a very soft cleaning cloth.
  3. Leave them air dry completely before storing. This is to preserve the elasticity of the silk strand.

What NOT to do When Cleanning Your Pearls

Cleaning and caring for your pearl jewelry is an important step in preserving its beauty and luster. However, it is important to know there are certain things that should be avoided when caring for pearls, here are a few things to avoid doing when cleaning your pearls:

  • Pearls should not be put in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, as the intense vibrations can harm pearls.
  • Do not keep pearls in plastic bags. They can damage pearl jewelry over time. Pearls are delicate and need to be stored in a dry and cool place away from direct sunlight and other heat sources. Plastic bags trap moisture, which can cause the pearls to become dull and is also the cause of yellowed pearls. Moreover, the plastic can also scratch the surface of the pearls, and the sharp edges of the plastic can also puncture the pearls.
  • Do not immerse a pearl necklace in water, as it will weaken the silk thread.
  • Do not use harsh chemicals or detergents on your pearls, as they can strip away the pearl's natural luster.
  • Do not use toothbrushes, abrasives, or rough fabrics when cleaning your pearls, as these can scratch and damage the surface of the pearl.
  • Do not use acetone nail polish remover on pearls mounted on peg settings because the acetone will dissolve jewelry glue and can cause pearls to fall off.

Pearl Maintenance Tips

It is common for pearls to become treasured family heirlooms. To ensure that your pearls last long enough to achieve heirloom status, follow these maintenance tips: 

  1. Last on, first off. Make sure that your pearls are the finishing touch to your outfit. Do not apply makeup, hairspray, lotion, or perfume once your pearls are on.
  2. Store pearls flat. It's okay for most necklaces to be hung on jewelry racks, but your pearl strands should not be. Store pearl necklaces flat to prevent them from stretching. 
  3. Have a designed space just for your pearls. It is important to keep soft pearls away from other jewelry to avoid scratching.
  4. Avoid wearing pearls for long hours under the hot sun, as body oil and sweat can impact the luster of the pearl in the long term. 
  5. Keep away from water. Do not wear it to showering, swimming, hot tubs, spa, or the beach. Avoid direct sunlight, and contact with perfume, makeup, hairspray, lotion, and other chemical products.
  6. Pearls should be kept separately in a soft jewelry cloth or cloth-lined jewelry box to avoid scratches.
  7. Remove pearls carefully before going to bed.

Frequently Asked Questions