Pearl jewelry has a unique luster and elegance. You put on your pearl necklace or pearl earrings and you already feel more confident. But in order for your pearl jewelry to remain gorgeous and look fabulous, you need to clean it periodically. It is very important to understand how to clean jewelry that features pearls as it is different than any other jewelry. Pearl jewelry is special in this regard and a wrong step can ruin it. To avoid this, read further so that you learn how to clean pearl jewelry without damaging it.

Why is pearl jewelry more difficult to clean?

Pearls, as well as corals, amber, and jet, are organic gemstones. This means they are created by a living organism and it is only natural that they don’t have the same hardness as other gemstones. When it comes to pearl jewelry, you know that your pearls grow inside oysters.

A pearl is nothing but a substance produced by the oyster to defend itself from an irritant. Once a small piece of shell enters it, the oyster will secrete the shiny nacre substance, covering the shell piece. The substance will harden it time and get thicker. Of course, the thickness of the nacre coating depends on the type of oyster, the water and how long before the pearl is taken out.

Even with a thicker nacre, the pearl can get scratched. But this is especially true for a thin nacre coating. As you can imagine, brushing your pearls with a hard-bristle brush, soaking them in water or using ultrasonics on them can damage the nacre layer. In the case of pearl necklaces, another reason they are difficult to clean is the string. When a piece of string stays in the water for too long, it can become weak and break.

How to clean pearl jewelry

Now that you know you have to be extra careful with pearl jewelry, let’s see what you can use to clean it. First of all, remember that you cannot use any mechanical cleaning methods. No ultrasonics, no boiling. You have to clean your pearl jewelry by hand and be very careful about it.

Dos when cleaning pearls jewelry

You need a clean bowl, lukewarm water, and a very soft lint-free cloth. Preferably a microfiber cloth. Most detergents can damage the pearls, but you can use a very mild cleaning solution. Mix the warm water with just a little bit of cleaning solution and dip the cloth in the water. Gently use it to rub the pearls and make sure you clean them evenly, on both sides.

After you finish cleaning them, use another soft cloth dipped in water only to rinse them. After that, dry your pearl jewelry with a soft napkin or other similar material.

Don’ts when cleaning pearl jewelry

Just to make sure we cover all the bases, let’s see what you must absolutely not do when cleaning pearl jewelry. For starters, never submerge the pearls in water or any other liquid. Even if you clean them with a moist cloth only, don’t put them immediately in the jewelry box and wait for them to dry out.

Don’t use abrasive cleaners or a polishing cloth. Seriously, polishing your pearls can damage the nacre layer and make them look dull. And last, but not least, don’t clean pearl jewelry too often. If you do, you will wear off the nacre layer. Instead, try cleaning it every three or four months.

What else you can you to maintain your pearl jewelry

The place where you store your pearls is very important. Try not to place them with your other jewelry because they can get scratched. Also, it’s important not to store them in an airtight container, such as a plastic bag. Pearls can become yellow if they get too dry. They need air circulation, so, if we are talking about a pearl necklace, try storing it on a necklace tree. For bracelets, rings and earrings put them in special compartments inside the jewelry box, but make sure there is air circulation.

Another important thing to remember when wearing pearl jewelry is that you shouldn’t apply perfume or body lotion with your jewelry on. After you put on perfume or body lotion wait for a couple of minutes and then put on your jewelry as well.

Your pearl jewelry is beautiful and can last for a very long time if you take care of it properly. As long as you remember the dos and don’ts of cleaning pearls, you will maintain your jewelry in perfect condition. If you want to find out more about jewelry & fashion and discover more gemstone care guides, read our other articles as well.

To view our unique pearl earrings collection, visit Ana Luisa online jewelry shop.


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Ruxandra is a fashion blogger who teaches fashion stumped twenty to thirty somethings how to shop their jewelry boxes for polished new ensembles. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Fashionista, Nylon, and Refinery29.