The Best Way to Take Care Of Pearls

The Best Way to Take Care Of Pearls


The Best Way to Take Care of Pearls

Pearls are the most elegant and flattering of gemstones. The only gemstone that comes from the sea and is not mined, these exquisite gems are also delicate and need special care. 

With the correct treatment in keeping them clean, in storing them and in maintaining them, your pearls will last generations. Indeed the famous La Peregrina pearl was found in the lat 16th Century and was famously worn by Elizabeth Taylor, purchased for her by Richard Burton for Valentine’s Day one year.  

With incorrect handling, storing and no protection the thread will perish, the pearls may be irrevocably damaged and their famous lustre may be diminished beyond repair. A great many second-hand pearls are damaged. Many pawnbrokers find they can’t resell the pearls that are brought to them as they have not been looked after. 

The sad thing is, pearls aren’t hard to take care of. It only needs a few precautions in storing, wearing and cleaning them that mean they will hold their quality and lustre for, literally, hundreds of years. 

If in doubt, take your pearls to a jeweller for specific advice but the guidelines below offer general guidance in looking after and maintaining your pearl jewellery.

How to Care For Pearl Jewellery

Beauty Products and Perfume

Perfume, beauty products, lotions and potions may contain alcohol and other chemicals which are extremely damaging to pearls. Never spray perfume or hairspray on after you put on your pearls, always before and try to avoid perfume on areas of skin where pearls will rest.

The same goes for body lotions and other beauty products. 


Never get your pearls wet. Don’t shower or bathe in your pearl jewellery and never dip them in jewellery cleaning fluid (even cleaning fluid designed for pearls) particularly if they are strung. The silk thread that pearls are strung on will stay wet and my rot or blacken. They can even cause the area of the pearl where the string is in contact with the pearl to blacken. If your pearls aren’t strung, getting them wet can still cause them to come loose from their setting.

You can wipe your pearls over with a damp (not wet!) cloth to clean them of perspiration or any chemicals. Dry thoroughly afterwards.

Removing Your Pearls

When you remove your pearls, please clasp the setting/fitting rather than the pearl itself before gently pulling. Often pearls are glued, screwed or pinned in place and you want to protect the integrity of the setting as much as possible. Similarly if you have a magnetic clasp to your necklace or bracelet, hold the clasp and join to open rather than pulling on the chain or pearls themselves. 

Storing Your Pearls

Pearls measure just 2.5 on the Moh’s Hardness scale!  Compare that to diamond’s 10 score! A pearl is soft. This means they are easily scratched and can be dissolved. Always store your pearls in a box or soft cloth away from other jewellery which will easily scratch your pearls.

Don’t store in a plastic bag as this can dry out your pearl leading the the nacre (the outer layer of the shell) to crack and peel. 

Don’t store in bright light or sunlight, as this could fade the colour.


Strings of pearls will need restringing possibly every two years - sooner if they are large pearls as they may stretch the silk threads they could be strung on. 


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