Quality pearls are very durable, but proper care is necessary to keep them beautiful and lustrous. Here are important tips to care for your pearls.
1) Pearls are very soft and need special care. They never should be tossed on top of or next to other gems in a jewelry box. Store them in a jewelry pouch.
2) 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.
3) 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.
4) 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.
5) When taking off a pearl ring, grasp the shank, or metal part, rather than the pearl. This will prevent the pearl from loosening and coming into contact with skin oil on your hand.
Because of their delicate nature, special care must be taken when cleaning.
• Only use jewelry cleaners labeled as safe for pearls.
• Never use an ultrasonic cleaner.
• Never steam-clean pearls.
• Never use (or expose pearls) to dish or wash detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda, or ammonia-based cleaners (like Windex).
• Never use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearls.
• Do not wear pearls when their string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt, which is hard to remove.
• Do not hang pearls to dry.
• Take your pearls off when applying cosmetics, hair spray, and perfume, or when showering or swimming.
• Avoid wearing pearls with rough fabrics like Shetland wool.
• Have your pearls restrung once a year if you wear them often.
After you wear pearls, just wipe them off with a soft cloth or chamois, which may be dry or damp. This will prevent dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the pearl nacre. You can even use a drop of olive oil on the cloth to help maintain their luster.
If pearls have not been kept clean and are very dirty, they can be cleaned by your jeweler or they can be cleans using special pearl cleaner. Be careful using other types of jewelry cleaner or soap. Some liquid soap, such as Dawn, can damage pearls. Pay attention to the areas around the drill holes where dirt may tend to collect.
After washing your pearls, lay them flat in a moist kitchen towel to dry. When the towel is dry, your pearls should be dry.