Guide to Cleaning and Caring for Pearls

Quality pearls are durable, but proper care is necessary to keep them beautiful and lustrous. Here are important tips to care for your pearls. If you're anything like me, I like to wear my pearls everywhere so I take special precautions so that they will maintain their allure.

Gently wipe the pearls with a warm, damp cloth to remove body oils or dirt (which may harm the colors) before putting them away.

Keep pearls away from chlorine bleach, vinegar, ammonia, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics, as these substances will damage the pearl surface. Make sure to put pearls on after finished spraying perfume or hairspray and putting on makeup. Also, remove pearls before exercising to keep them away from perspiration. Be very careful with substances as they will eat holes in the pearl nacre.

Wash pearls periodically with mild soap (NOT detergent) and a soft cloth. When finished washing the pearls, rinse them in clean water and wrap them in a thin, damp cotton towel to dry. If the pearls are especially dirty, wipe the pearl with acetone polish remover. Acetone will not hurt pearls. DO NOT use jewelry cleaners with ammonia or vinegar in them.

Pearls should be stored away from other objects or jewelry that may scratch the pearls’ surface. Wrap the pearls in linen, soft cloth, or place in a soft pouch. Do NOT store pearls in an airtight package such as a plastic bag because pearls need moisture. If the environment is too dry, the pearls may crack. If placing the pearls in a safety deposit box or in a hot environment, leave a damp cloth nearby.

Restring pearls once a year if worn often. Be sure to have each pearl knotted separately, preferably with silk, so they do not rub together and wear on the pearl nacre. If pearls are very small, knots between each pearl may be undesirable.