How to Care For Pearl Jewelry

Pearls are one of the most unique and beautiful gemstones. They are the only gemstone to be created by a living creature – a mollusk or an oyster.  And because of how they are created, and that they are made up of layers of organic matter called nacre, they are more fragile and softer than most gemstones. 

However, just because they have a more delicate make-up than other gemstones set in jewelry, doesn’t mean you can’t keep them beautiful so that they can last a lifetime. It just takes a little extra love and care. The better you clean, store, and care for your pearl jewelry, the longer it will retain its original color, luster, and beauty. 


Pearls can be easily chipped or scratched.  They should be the last thing you put on, and the first thing you take off when wearing them.  Here are some other tips to help you keep your pearls in good condition.

  • Protect your pearls from chlorine, hairspray, body lotions, and perfumes. The chemicals in these products can dull the luster of your pearls.

  • Never, ever, ever wear them when you go swimming.  The water, even if it’s in the ocean or a lake can damage them.  And the chlorine often found in pool water can begin to eat away at pearls and dissolve them.

  • Do not clean them with an ultrasonic cleaner or any type of jewelry cleaner.  The result of this would be a very dull pearl.

  • Do not wear your pearls when doing any type of physical labor or exercise, as you could accidentally hit them on something or scratch them.

  • Do not wear your pearls in the shower or when bathing as the ingredients found in soaps, shampoos, and other bathing products can harm them.


So what do you do with your pearls when you are not wearing them?  Pearls need to be stored properly too, and here are some tips for how to keep them safe when you take them off.

  • If you have a pearl necklace that is a strand of pearls, never hang it on a jewelry hook.  Doing this will generally cause the thread that holds the strand together to stretch. Instead, lay your pearl necklaces flat.

  • The best type of container to store pearls in is a soft, fabric-lined jewel box.  Fabrics like chamois, silk, and flannel all work well.  Stay away from plastic containers as the chemicals in the plastic can erode pearls.

  • Any box that you store your pearls in should not be air-tight.  Pearls need air and moisture to retain their luster so that they do not dry out and become yellow.

  • Keep your pearls away from other jewelry to avoid having them accidentally get scratched by other gemstones or metal.

  • Never store your pearls where they will get direct sunlight. The sun and its heat will dry pearls out over time causing them to turn yellow and become brittle. 


Caring for your pearls can be quite easy.  Generally, after every wear, you should wipe your pearls with a soft cloth to remove any perspiration, makeup, or dirt that they may have picked up.  However, sometimes your pearls can become a bit dirty and need a more thorough cleaning, and here’s how to do that:

  • Mix room-temperature water with a little bit of gentle soap, such as Ivory Pure Soap Flakes.

  • Dampen a soft cloth with some of the soapy water and gently rub the pearls.  Do not use anything more abrasive than this or you run the risk of damaging your pearls.

  • Once you wipe them down, gently dry the pearls with a soft dry cloth.

  • Make sure the pearls have dried completely before storing them.


Unfortunately, the answer is no. Once a pearl has lost its original luster, or has turned yellow, you cannot bring back its natural luminosity.  Yellowing happens to pearls over time because their organic material dries out. To prevent your pearls from drying out and yellowing, wear them, as the humidity in the air is good for them, and do not store them in air-tight or plastic containers. 


It depends upon how often you wear them.  Generally, when the thread that holds the strand together becomes stretched or discolored, or if a pearl appears to be loose, it’s a good idea to have it restrung.  And if the jeweler who restrings the pearls notices a damaged pearl, they can replace it at that time too.   If you wear your pearls every day, you may need to restring them about once a year. 

Pearls are meant to be worn, but you do have to be a little cautious when wearing them so as not to damage them.  As long as you take care of these precious gems, they should retain their beautiful color and luminosity for many years to come.