Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Caring for pearls

When cared for properly, pearls can last a lifetime. The best way to care for pearls is to wear them often as the body’s natural oils keep pearls lustrous. However, it's very important to keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray. Chemicals found in these common products can dull the luster of your pearls.

Like the oysters which formed them, they require moisture. Extreme dryness is damaging to pearls, and they are very sensitive to acids, hair spray, cosmetics, and perspiration. But, because they usually are worn on a silk string which will deteriorate when wet, the pearls will need to be re-strung more frequently if they are taken for a swim in salt or fresh water.

*NEVER expose pearls to chlorinated water. Like their "organic" owners, pearls are prone to damage from pollution and injury.

*APPLY COSMETICS, PERFUME AND SPRAY PRODUCTS FIRST, before putting pearl jewellery on. (Remember although sun creams and insect repellents are good for you, pearls need to be protected from these protectors.)

*It is recommended that you put your pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when you come home. Before putting your pearls away, wipe them with a soft cloth and store them separate from other jewelry to avoid scratching their tender surfaces. STORE PEARLS SEPARATELY from other jewellery, in a cloth bag or jewellery pouch. Storage in slightly damp linen will help prevent pearls from drying out in low-humidity atmospheres including central heating.

*Make sure that they are not exposed for a long time to direct sunlight, especially ultraviolet rays. The protein in pearls becomes yellow under sunlight. The calcium carbonate in pearls dissolves in human sweat or oil from the skin, and this will diminish the pearl's luster. To prevent this, wipe pearls well with a soft cloth immediately after taking them off and before putting them away. Avoid commercial jewellery cleaners unless specified on the label.

*Since pearls have such a low hardness, they should be worn and stored in such a way that they do not come in contact with metals or harder stones that may damage them.

*REMOVE SPILLS IMMEDIATELY if pearls come in contact with food acids. Use a soft cloth moistened in fresh water, and then dry pearls with another soft cloth.

*RE-STRING pearls regularly, for the sake of the pearls as well as to avoid a broken string.

*REPLACE INDIVIDUAL PEARLS when a competent pearl-stringer recommends it. Pearls which always lie against the neck when worn will absorb acid from the skin and eventually lose lustre as well as their spherical shape.

What To Avoid
Acids in the skin and elsewhere.
Makeup and skin creams.
Hairspray and insect repellent.
Talcum powder.
Dust and grit.
Ultrasonic cleaners.
Steam cleaning.
Chlorinated water in shower or pool.
Scratches from crystalline gemstones and metallic jewellery.
Dehydration from being wrapped in cotton wool or from exposure to light and heat, especially spotlights in shop-windows and showcases.
The dinner table with a variety of acidic hazards from vinegar to salad dressing to fruit juice.
The kitchen with all those acidic ingredients and the high heat used in cooking. Pearls will tolerate temperatures up to 100°C for a short time, but hot fat and stove/oven temperatures often reach a very damaging 180°C! For the same reason, pearls should not be stored near a radiator or a sunny window.

Wear them with pride!!!


  1. This is great information on caring for pearls.

  2. I never knew any of this about pearls. I use them alot in my wall hangings, guess I should put a warning label to keep out of direct sunlight when I sell a piece.