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How to Clean Pearl Jewelry

A pearl is an exquisite thing of beauty, and if you have pearl jewelry, you should know how to properly care for it. Pearls are extremely soft, and the care and cleaning is much different than that of other precious and semi-precious gemstones.

Pearl jewelry needs to be handled differently from other jewelry. For instance, when removing a pearl ring, you should always hold on to the shank (the band) rather than the pearl. Remember to always remove pearl rings when you are preparing food. You should also have pearl necklaces restrung annually, if you wear them frequently. NEVER wear pearl jewelry in a swimming pool. Chlorine and other chemicals are extremely hazardous to the health of pearls.

When you wear your pearl jewelry, it is wise to wipe it down with a soft cloth or chamois (damp or dry) as soon as you take it off, in order to keep perspiration from damaging the surface of the pearls. Although your body oils can help to enhance the lustre and shine of your pearls, perspiration is acidic, and over time, it can cause your pearls to “erode”, and actually change from round to a barrel-shape.

Cleaning Pearl Jewelry

Because pearls are so soft and delicate, when it comes to cleaning, you need to be extra-careful. For instance, you should never use any type of harsh cleaners on pearls, including baking soda, dish liquid, bleach, powdered cleansers (such as Ajax) or cleaners with ammonia. Here are a few more tips for cleaning your pearl jewelry safely:

  • Use warm, not hot water to clean pearl jewelry.
  • Use only mild soaps, such as Ivory detergent.
  • Only use jewelry cleaning solutions that are safe for pearls.
  • Never use abrasive pads or brushes to clean pearls. Use a soft cotton  or chamois cloth instead.
  • Do not use jewelry cleaning cloths made for gold and silver jewelry, as these contain chemicals that could damage your pearls.
  • Do not use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner for pearls.
  • Do not steam clean pearls.
  • Do not hang pearl to dry. Instead, lay them flat on a clean, damp cloth. When the cloth is dry, your pearl jewelry should be too.
  • Do not wear strung pearls while they are still wet.
  • Put on pearl jewelry after applying makeup and hairspray, both of which are extremely harmful to pearls.
  • Do not use hand lotion while wearing pearl rings.

Storing Pearl Jewelry

Pearl jewelry should always be stored separately from your other jewelry. Never let your pearls rub against other jewelry items, as the other pieces can scratch the nacre of the pearls. If you don’t have a special drawer in your jewelry box that you can put your pearls in by themselves, they should be placed inside a soft cloth bag. Make sure to store each piece of pearl jewelry separately. If you properly look after your pearl jewelry, you are sure to have pieces that you will treasure for a lifetime.

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