Pearls are incredibly delicate. Many everyday products—from your hand lotion and perfume to your dish detergent—can dehydrate and discolor pearls, leaving you with a dull string of cracking pearls. To protect your strands of pearls, here are our six best tips to care, clean, and safely store your pearl jewelry.
Wear your pearl jewelry.
It may seem counter-intuitive but wearing your pearl jewelry out and about is actually better for it than leaving it packed away in a jewelry box. When pearls are stored for a long period of time, it causes the pearls to dehydrate and become brittle and crack. Exposing your pearl jewelry to fresh air will keep them in better condition.
… But remove your jewelry before the shower.
Extreme temperatures, humidity and direct sunlight are quite harmful to pearls. Heat and sun will turn your lustrous pearls brown and cause them to dry out and crack. So remember to take out your pearl stud earrings before you jump in the shower, dive into the pool, lay out at the beach or unwind in the sauna.
Wipe down your pearl jewelry before storing it.
Moisturizers, cosmetics, hair spray and perfume and even perspiration can harm your pearl’s luster. Gently wipe down your pearl jewelry with a soft cloth before storing it every night. This will remove any potentially harmful material residue. Also, vinegar, fruit juices, and laundry detergents are particularly harmful to pearls. Should you accidentally splash some lemonade on your pearl ring, immediately wipe it down with a clean cloth.
Store your pearl jewelry separately.
Although pearls are resilient, they are prone to scratches, especially when they brush against much harder gemstones (think a diamond ring). To protect your pearl jewelry, store it in separate and preferably individual jewelry box compartments. And do not use plastic jewelry bags to store individual pieces. Plastic baggies emit a chemical that will deteriorate the surface of the pearl. Reach for silk or suede jewelry pouches instead.
Let the professionals clean your pearls.
Pearl cleaning is a delicate process. Never put your pearl jewelry in an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. And, if you don’t have a pearl-safe cleaning agent, skip the at-home cleaning and DIY soaks. Bring your pearl jewelry to a professional jeweler who will carefully clean your necklace.
Restring your pearl necklace every year.
Pearl necklaces are typically strung with a silk thread. Silk is durable but everyday wear and especially any exposure to water will stretch and weaken the thread. To keep your necklace from breaking—and spilling pearl beads all over—have it professionally restrung every year.