1. Wipe After Every Wear
Wearing pearls exposes them to dirt and grime. Perspiration contains acids that may damage the surface. Even natural oils on the skin can leave behind an unwanted residue, making the pearls appear dull or discolored. That’s why it’s important to wipe off any dirt, grease, or debris after every use.
Natural pearls are prone to scratching, and wiping jewelry with a rough material will increase the risk. Don’t try to use a scouring pad or toothbrush to remove stubborn dirt. Instead, stick with a soft cloth. It’s also important to stay away from commercial polishing cloths, which may contain harsh chemicals. For the best results, choose a lint-free fabric, such as cotton, and always wash the cloth after each use.
2. Use Water Sparingly
There are times when a dry cloth isn’t enough to clean pearls. If there are noticeable stains or sticky debris, try cleaning the gemstone with a mixture of mild dish soap and warm water. Simply moisten the cloth in the solution, wring out the excess water, and gently wipe away the dirt. Be sure to cleanse each pearl individually. It’s often surprising to see how much dirt actually washes away!
Some jewelry wearers mistakenly submerge their pearls in water. While water won’t damage the stones, it can harm the silk thread, and there’s nothing worse than a broken strand of pearls. Instead, only use enough water to remove any unwanted debris, and always remove any jewelry before taking a bath or shower.
3. Avoid Harsh Chemicals
Chemicals aren’t needed to clean pearls properly. In fact, pearl owners should avoid them altogether. The majority of commercial cleaners are too harsh for soft pearls. Ammonia, bleach, and most detergents will eat through a pearl’s delicate outer layer, while baking soda and powdered cleaners are abrasive and will scratch the surface. Only buy cleaners marketed as safe for pearls.
4. Only Store Dry Pearls
Placing a damp necklace or bracelet into a jewelry box may degrade the silk strand. Although silk is the perfect choice when stringing together pearls, it is an extremely delicate material. Too much water may cause the silk to stretch out and lose its shape. Jewelry owners can prevent this by making sure their pearls are dry before storing them.
Dry each pearl by hand with a cotton cloth, and place the jewelry on a towel until the water evaporates completely. Most jewelers also recommend securing the clasp to ensure the piece doesn’t lose its shape. Once dry, carefully move the piece to a jewelry box or case.
5. Choose the Right Jewelry Box
Pearls are delicate and scratch easily, so it’s crucial to store them in a safe, secure location. Instead of placing them alongside other jewelry pieces, put pearls inside a dedicated storage container. If a separate jewelry box isn’t available, place the pearls in a fabric-lined compartment. This will protect the gemstones from accidental damage.
Avoid hard, unlined storage containers. It’s best to keep pearls on a soft surface, such as velvet, silk, or chamois. Hanging necklaces also isn’t recommended. Doing so may stretch out and weaken the string. Instead, always store pearl jewelry on a flat service to prevent tangling and warping.
6. Watch the Temperature
What’s the weather forecast for the day? Pearls are sensitive to high temperatures, and exposing them to too much sunlight at the beach, for instance, may damage these gemstones. Cultured pearls have a thin layer of nacre covering the surface. This organic substance can’t handle extreme heat and will dry out if exposed for long periods. When this happens, once white pearls may turn brown.
Interestingly, cold temperatures don’t seem to have the same effect on pearls. These organic stones do well when temperatures drop, and they may even help warm the wearer. Pearls actually store heat in the nacre, and putting on a pearl necklace in the middle of winter may add a bit of much-needed warmth.
7. Last On, First Off
Pearls are very soft and get damaged faster than most other pieces of jewelry. Even lightly brushing against a button or zipper may leave behind an unsightly scratch. That’s why wearers should pay attention to when they put on or take off their precious pearls. Make it a habit to put on pearl jewelry last when getting dressed in the morning. At the end of the day, pearls should be the first thing to remove.
8. Wear Your Pearls Regularly
Too many people only put on their pearls on special occasions. They mistakenly believe that wearing these stones every day will damage them. Luckily, the opposite is true. Pearls prefer a moist environment, and regular use will prevent them from drying out.
Leaving pearls untouched inside a jewelry case for too long will cause them to lose their luster. Dry pearls look dull and lifeless. They may even start to shrink or develop hairline cracks. While water can damage the silk thread, pearls thrive in it! After all, oysters make pearls underwater. Showing off these precious gems as often as possible will ensure they look their best for years to come.
Proper Care Provides Decades of Wear
Pearls are different than other gems on the market. Whereas other stones form underground in rock, pearls develop inside different types of mollusks. Pearls are also extremely rare. That’s why anyone lucky enough to own a set of pearls should do everything possible to keep their jewelry shining like new. With a little bit of care, it’s possible to wear pearls for decades to come.