Caring for pearls

Caring For Pearls: “Last On, First Off”

Pearls are precious jewels. They need gentle care to keep their beauty long

1. Pearls are natural gemstones composed of multiple layers of nacre. Pearls are softer than most other gems. Be careful not to hit them against any hard surfaces or objects that might crack or scratch them. The tooth enamel has a hardness of 5 and a pearl has a range of 2 1/2-4 on the Moh’s Hardness scale. Knowing how soft a pearl is can help us understand why pearls should not be tossed of top or next to gems in our jewelry box. Because the tooth is harder than a pearl the "tooth test" for identifying imitations should only be done very lightly or if possible avoided.

2. Pearls can be attacked by acids. Keep them from contacting hair spray, perfume, alcohol, and cosmetics. Apply perfume, cosmetics, and spray first, then put your pearls on. It is advisable not to put them directly on your skin which may have chemical residues. Wearing them on top of your clothes is preferable. Keep them away from chemicals like ammonia, chlorine or even acidic perspiration. Pearls are easily damaged by these chemicals or the nacre can be eaten away by acids such as vinegar and lemon juice. Heat can turn pearls brown or dry them up and make them crack.

3. Cleaning your pearls

The softness of pearls and their low resistance to heat and chemicals mean that special precautions must be taken when cleaning them. Keep in mind the following guidelines:

- Do not use commercial jewellery cleaners on pearls unless the labels state they are safe for pearls. Many of them contain ammonia, which will cause deterioration. There are commercial jewelry cleaners that you can use that are made specifically for pearls.

- Never clean pearl in an ultrasonic cleaner. It can damage the pearls and wash out the colour if the pearls have been dyed.

- Never steam-clean pearls. Heat can harm them.

- Never use detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda or ammonia-based cleaners on pearls.

- Do not use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearls. They can scratch their surface. If there’s a lump of dirt that can’t be rubbed off with a soft cloth, try using your fingernails. They have a hardness of only 2 ½ or less.

- After wearing your pearls, wipe them with a soft dry or damp cloth or a lambskin chamois. This will prevent the dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away the pearl nacre. If you think they need cleaning use only a soft, non-detergent soap being sure not to rub them against each other. Check to make sure the silk string is clean as well. Rinse them with warm (not hot) water. Spread them out on a soft towel to dry. Do not wear pearls when their string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt which is hard to remove. Likewise do not hang pearls to dry.

4. A strand of pearls should be strung on a nylon or silk thread with a tight knot between each pearl. This keeps them apart so that they don’t scratch one another and reduces abrasion caused by grit in the atmosphere bound with skin oils on the strings. This also keeps them from scattering if the string breaks. There should be no slack between the knots and pearls.

5. Storing your pearls

Store them in a place that is not too warm. Pearls prefer a relatively consistent medium humidity. They contain around 2% water. Keeping them in a place that is too warm, may cause them to dry out and develop hairline cracks and fissures. This could cause them to loose their luster. Pearls should not be kept near heaters or in places that get strong sunlight, such as window sill. Store them away from other harder jewelry. It is best to store them separately in cloth bags, soft pouches of chamois or velvet, or wrapped in tissue when not worn. Do not store them in plastic. Store them in a place that is not too warm.

6. Regular care will greatly extent the life of all your pearls. Wear them frequently and always keep them clean.

You can purchase these popular pearl-care products here:


This handy little Kit contains two Pearl Tissues and a Pearl Polishing Cloth that will give you perfect results every time. Simply clean your jewels using one of the moist Tissues – taking care not to wet the thread – then dry them with my Pearl Polishing Cloth. You can also clean other soft stones and costume jewellery with the same Tissues and Polishing Cloth. - £3.80


This product is so easy to use! All you have to do is spray the special liquid onto your pearls, taking care not to wet the necklace thread, then clean the jewels with a soft, dry cloth. That's it! And that's why it's "perfect". - £8.50


Beautiful gift box for pearl lovers. Nicely complements any of your pearl purchases from this website!

In this special tin box, you will find eight pearl tissues and a luxury microfibre polishing cloth. The combination will give perfect results, wherever you may be. - £11.50