Pearls are an organic gem and are therefore more susceptible to damage than other types of gems and stones. However, with some specialized care it’s easy to keep your pearls perfect and radiant for many years.
When wearing your pearls, it is best to ensure they are the last thing you put on when you get dressed and the first thing you take off when you get home. Pearls can be damaged by hairsprays, cosmetics, and any chemicals they may come in contact with as you get ready. Perspiration can also negatively affect the pearls’ luster, so you should not wear them when you exercise. If spills or drops from food or alcohol get on your pearls, wiping them with plain water will eliminate the chances of a stain and neutralize the effect of the substance on the pearl’s surface.
Pearls should be stored separately from other jewelry to avid scratches and tangles. Keeping your pearls in a soft pouch or lying flat in a compartmentalized jewelry box is the best way to ensure no damage will come to their surface. Pearls should never be kept in plastic bags or boxes, as the chemicals secreted by plastic can do permanent damage to your jewelry.
Before putting your pearls away after wearing, make sure to gently wipe them with a soft cloth to remove any perspiration that may have transferred onto them, as they can be harmed by the oils from your skin. Most importantly, wear them often! Leaving pearls in a box for long periods of time can dehydrate them, and regular wear will help develop their unique warmth and glow.
Cleaning your pearls with detergents, household cleaners, commercial jewelry cleaner, or tarnish remover can severely damage them. While best practice is to take your pearls to a specialist for cleaning, it is possible to clean them safely at home using a very mild soap solution and soft brush. Never use a hard bristled brush, like a nail brush or toothbrush, on your pearls, and make sure to use a soap that is gentle on skin, like Dove or Ivory, heavily diluted in water. After cleaning your pearls with this type of solution they should be carefully dried with a soft, dry cloth. Pearls should only be cleaned when wiping them with a soft cloth is no longer enough to remove dirt or residue.
The Pearl Company recommends bringing your pearls to a specialty cleaner, as the risk of damaging your jewelry when cleaning pearls yourself is high.