Complete Guide on How to Care for Pearls

Complete Guide on How to Care for Pearls

You’re at the right place if you want to know how to care for pearls. In this article, we’ll be exploring everything you need to know about pearl maintenance and answer some of the most frequently asked questions about them including:

  • After how long should I restrung my pearls?
  • Can damaged pearls be fixed?
  • Can I soak pearls?

How to Care for Pearls

Why Pearls Need Extra Care

Pearls need extra care because they’re organic gems. This typically means that pearls are products of living organisms. There are different types of pearls that are produced by a range of mollusk species usually oysters and mussels.

You probably know that pearls are incredibly soft gemstones especially if you’re conversant with pearl jewelry. For the most part, jewelry enthusiasts educate themselves about the famous Mohs scale. However, Mohs scale of hardness is only but a puzzle piece to the overall wearability of gemstones.

mohs hardness scale

In addition, Mohs scale of hardness helps determine the resistance of a mineral to scratch. However, it has nothing to do with the mineral’s resistance to breaking or chipping. Pearls have relatively low scratch resistance, rating between 2.5 to 4.5.

Pearl’s hardness rating on Mohs scale is a far cry when compared to diamonds. By now, you already know that diamonds are the most scratch resistant minerals rating at 10 on Mohs scale of hardness.

Pearls usually have some sort of iridescent sheen on the surface known as luster. Exquisite pearls are beautiful with incredible luster. However, pearls are as beautiful as they are delicate and that’s why they need proper care and maintenance.

Cleaning Pearl Jewelry

Using warm water and mild soap is one of the most common and easiest way of cleaning pearl jewelry. However, you might have to submerge some gemstones in a container with soap solution. There are other different jewelry cleaners that involve ultrasonic waves, gem-safe chemical solutions or steam.

In such circumstances, you’ll need a bristled brush to clean the stone gently. But that’s not the case with  pearl jewelry.

The above instructions don’t apply to cleaning pearl jewelry including warm water and mild soap. Throw all of that out of the window! In all honesty, both soap and water solution are harsh on pearl jewelry. This means that you have to keep the pearls away from water. This sounds counterintuitive because pearls are usually form in water in the first place.


As earlier mentioned, pearls are formed in water and that’s enough reason to keep them dry at all times. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean water only. This means that you might have to take off your fine jewelry when swimming and pearls are no exception.

Most pools contain harsh chemicals like chlorine that can damage the pearls severely. It’s a no-brainer! People don’t usually consider the damage perfume, hair spray, make-up and sweat can cause to a pearl’s luster. Always wear your pearls when you’re done with everything as opposed to before.

What’s more, clean your pearls immediately you take them off. In this case, use a soft piece of cloth to clean your pearl jewelry. Ensure you wipe them softly and gently. Remember, dirt and dust in the air can potentially scratch your pearl jewelry when you wipe too roughly or quickly even when using a soft cloth.

Pearls cannot be deep cleaned.

RECOMMENDED: Natural vs. Cultured Pearls

Storing Pearl Jewelry

The surface of pearl jewelry is usually quite delicate. You need to store your pearls properly when you take them off to avoid damaging the surface. As a rule of thumb, always store your pearl jewelry pieces like you would other gemstones albeit with minor additions.

Cultured Tahitian Pearl Earrings


A jewelry box will come in handy when storing pearls. It shouldn’t just be any type of box. Jewelry boxes linked with satin, velvet, silk or a soft lining come highly recommended since they help prevent pearl jewelry from being scratched.

RECOMMENDED: Best Jewelry Boxes

Always lay your pearl jewelry flat and avoid hanging bracelets and necklaces. You might also want to avoid presenting the pearl ring on the finger display. Always place the pearl rings in a lined slot in the jewelry box. Don’t store your pearls loosely unless it’s a bracelet or neckpiece.

Don’t store your pearl jewelry in plastic bags. You can store them separately but plastic bags tend to create humidity inside when sealed. Keep the pearls separate from other jewelry and gemstones to prevent them from rubbing against each other.

RECOMMENDED: Freshwater vs. Saltwater Pearls

Pearl Jewelry Routine Maintenance

Save for the daily routine maintenance to avoid damaging your pearl jewelry, you’ll also have to do a number of repairs for the pearls after a while. Especially if you wear your pearl jewelry most of the time.

How to Restring Pearl Necklaces

One of the most common routine maintenances when it comes to pearl jewelry is restringing them. You might need to restring your pearls more often if you tend to wear them daily. Generally, regular pearl wearers need to restring their pearls after every two years.

However, it’s always advisable to restring the pearls before the strand breaks. This is because you can lose a pearl if the strand breaks or the entire necklace especially if they forget to tie a knot after every pearl. Check your pearl bracelets and necklaces for signs of discoloration or fraying string.


Silk strings are more prone to damage. Keeping the pearl bracelet or necklace wet tends to soften the strand’s entire composition. Avoid stretching and hanging pearl bracelets and necklaces.

How to Repair a Pearl Necklace Clasp

Pearl bracelets and necklaces both require a clasp to keep the pearls securely in place around your wrist and neck respectively. The clasps are made of yellow gold, sterling silver, white gold, rose gold and platinum.

One of the most common misconceptions about pearl jewelry care is that it’s not supposed to break if it has great craftmanship. That’s not entirely true with jewelry since it’s usually crafted in earthly natural materials. Just like gemstones, jewelry metals are also mined.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pearl Jewelry

Can you put pearls in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner?

You can clean gemstones in many different ways. Some usually involve steam cleaners, water and mild soap, ultrasonic cleaners or jewelry solution cleaners. Water and mild soap come highly recommended. Don’t use any type of machine to clean pearls especially an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.


GemOro 0384 Brilliant Spa Pro Professional Steam Cleaner
Brilliant Spa Pro Professional Steam Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner is a machine that uses jewelry solution cleaner and water. When you turn it on, the machine sends ultrasonic waves into the solution to shake loose the dirt on your jewelry. Most chain retailers usually have cleaning and inspections for pearl jewelry at no extra cost.

However, if the stones can’t go into the machine, you can’t clean, dip or turn on the waves. Ensure that the jewelry associate doesn’t submerge your pearl jewelry in water or put it in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Remember, most associates in jewelry stores aren’t trained well. When I worked at Kays Jeweler’s, we washed pearl earrings, rings and necklaces in jewelry solution cleaner.

Can pearls fade in prolonged sunlight?

Artificially colored pearl jewelry tends to fade in sunlight especially when it’s exposed for an extended period. The luster of pearls happens due to high humidity and prolonged sunlight. However, if you don’t stay out in the sun for too long then you shouldn’t be worried about fading. But that doesn’t mean that you can wear your pearl jewelry when running errands going in and out of the sun.

Pearl earrings are low impact jewelry with less vulnerabilities since they’re always hidden from the rays of the sun. Pearl rings, bracelets and necklaces, on the other hand, not as much.

Can the luster of a pearl be restored?

You have to clean your pearl jewelry so that they don’t turn yellow or appear dull. Use a soft piece of cloth to clean your pearls to restore shine. However, once the pearls are damaged, there’s no way around it that’s why you need to take proper care of them.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Taking Care of Pearl Jewelry

  • DO store your pearls in a jewelry box with soft lining.
  • Don’t put them in plastic bags
  • Do lay the pearls flat
  • Don’t stretch or hang your pearl jewelry
  • Do wear your pearls after the entire make-up routine
  • Don’t expose the pearls to direct sunlight
  • Do wipe the pearls with a soft piece of cloth
  • Don’t submerge your pearls in water
  • Do clean the pearls after every wear
  • Don’t do any outdoor activities when wearing pearls

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