Senior Guide Member
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.
Pearls Have Turned Yellow . . .
My mom recently gave me her pearls and I am trying to find out more information about them. They have yellowed and someone stated that if I wear them they should change back to their original color? Is this true?
Any information, advice you could provide, would be greatly appreciated.
Unfortunately this is not the case. They may have yellowed because the nacre is dry and brittle, but more likely it is due to damage the pearls may have sustained over the years. Unfortunately with organic gems like pearls there is no turning back the hands of time.
What I may suggest is wiping the pearls down repeatedly with a damp cloth to try to moisten the nacre. The color, however, is unlikely to change.
That's what I was afraid of . . . thanks for the information and suggestion.
I had the same problem with some pearls that my mother had given me years ago. I've been putting them in the sunlight everyday all day and It seems to have brought back most of their pearly color. I read that sunlight was good for them, and for that reason wearing them alot might be good. Give it a try, mine are looking pretty good now.
Cleaning pearls: Question for Zeide
I have a question for Zeide:
I have read on various websites that when caring for and cleaning pearls, one should use a damp soft cloth (dampened with diluted soap solution) and then "rinsed" with another damp soft cloth (dampened with clean chlorine free water only) and then dried with another soft cloth.
However, I have also seen on some websites advising that if the pearls are really dirty, they should be rinsed under running water. My query is two fold: (a) what is the proper way to clean pearls and (b) can pearls be placed under a tap of running water (since I thought if water were to get into the drill holes then it will ruin the pearls)?
I would be grateful if you could please let me know.
Staying away from chlorine is always a good idea when cleaning pearls. The next most important thing to stay away from is EDTA. So if you have plain base soap and a pür-tap or Brita-jug filter, you can get the worst salad-dressing-spill off any fine pearl by lathering up with curd or castile soap giving the pearls a good washing and then rinsing with chlorine-free water. That's about all that's needed. The only real complications come from modern industry that gives us fake acidic EDTA-containing soap and modern sanitation (otherwise good) that gives us chlorinated water. All the different cloths are not really necessary.
Thank you Zeide. Your answer helped me to do away with my mistaken belief that one should never rinse pearls with water!
chuckle. newsflash - pearls came from water!
Originally Posted by moishai
Let me preface by saying I am an amateur pearl lover, not a professional.
yes, in houston it is HOT SWEATY HOT 9 months out of the year. I wear my pearls practically everyday. I wash my pearls after every wearing to get the sweat off with a bar of castile soap, lather my hands, lather the pearls, rinse well in a bowl of water, and let them dry flat on a clean towel.
i rehabilitated a strand of saltwater cultured pearls, found at TJ Maxx, that had been in a hot dry jewelers case for a long time. soaked them for a couple of days in distilled water. pearls need to moisture/get wet or the nacre dries out and does weird things.
Last edited by ladykemma; 09-03-2006 at 08:40 PM.
rinsing pearls with water
One caution when rinsing pearls with water... once the strand becomes wet, it attracts dirt much more easily. This of course does not hurt the pearls, but would simply take away from the beauty of the strand if the pearls are glowing but the strand is grey not much you can do about dirty strand except to have the pearls restrung.
So it is extra important to keep the strand away from dirt/dust while they are still wet.
Senior Guide Member
To clarify for others, I believe you are referring to the silk.
off topic question, but because I do wear them practically everyday, the string only lasts 6-9 months. is there something besides silk that will be strong and long wearing? for continual use pearls?
Originally Posted by National Pearl
You can have them strung on steel wire. I would not recommend that because it cuts through the pearls from the drill hole but some people prefer that. The most economical solution is to learn how to string them on silk yourself. That way you still have them knotted on silk and do not have to pay for the regular restringing.
Satine De La Courcel
Silk is the best bet, Beading string lasts less, and the wire well Zeide covered that. It is wasy to learn how to string an knot your pearls. Takes some practice with eveything to get it right eveytime... but that is psrt of the fun..... and then if you wnat to change your pearls into another necklace then you get to cretae it yourself.
I also would not recomend you wear your pearls everyday in such hot stick weather. too much of a good thing......But then again I feel every lady needs several strands of pearls.
I would personally suggest finding someone in your local area that can string pearls well. Knotting pearls well takes practice, and if you only have a few strands that need upkeep, you would be better off with a professional stringer. Treat the strand like the cleaning of your fur coat (faux fur coat - sorry, the Angelino coming out in me), about once a year. Unless you have a keen interest in beading, the $10-$30 you will spend on the reknotting will outweigh the cumbersome task of learning to string.
Silk is not as important as many think. In fact, the large majority of stringers "double knotting on silk thread" are either using nylon or a silk nylon blend. I do not really believe one is better than the other - one just sounds better. Almost anything coming out of Asia (both Japan and China) is not strung on pure silk.
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