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How to Clean Pearls & Pearl Jewelry

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 damage 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. Pearls are considered organic gemstones as they are produced inside of oysters. 

A pearl is 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 and cover the shell piece. The substance will harden over time and get thicker. The thickness of the nacre coating depends on the type of oyster, the water, and for how long the pearl remains inside the oyster.

Even with a thicker nacre, the pearl can get scratched. But this is especially true for a thin nacre coating. Brushing your pearls with a hard-bristle brush, soaking them in water, or using ultrasonics on them can damage the nacre layer. 

Pearl necklaces may be particularly difficult to clean because of the string. When the string stays in water for too long, it can become weak and break.

 

How to clean pearl jewelry

Let’s talk about the various ways you can safely and delicately clean your pearls. Keep in mind that you cannot use any mechanical cleaning methods. No ultrasonics, no boiling. Pearl jewelry is best cleaned by (super gentle) hand.

 

Do’s when cleaning pearl jewelry

All you need is 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 to rinse them. After that, dry your pearl jewelry with a soft napkin or something similar.

 

Don’ts when cleaning pearl jewelry

Avoid submerging the pearls in water or any other liquid. Even if you clean them with a moist cloth only, avoid putting them immediately in your jewelry box and let them dry out completely.

Keep abrasive solutions and polishing cloths out of your pearl polishing routine. Polishing your pearls can damage the nacre layer and dull their shine. And last, but not least, avoid cleaning pearl jewelry too often. Instead, try cleaning your pieces every three or four months.

 

What else can you do 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.

One more tip: avoid applying perfume or body lotion while wearing your pearls. Let your lotions and potions dry before applying your pearl accessories.

 

Maintain your pearl jewelry

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.

 

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