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Pearl Care Guide: Your Official Owner's Manual

How to Clean & Care For Pearls

Whether your pearls are brand new or family heirlooms, knowing how to care for your gems to keep them beautiful is paramount. Pearls are a porous gemstone. This means that they can absorb oils and acids easily, which over time can lead to damaged and discolored nacre. Knowing how to clean and maintain your pearls means that you can keep them looking lustrous and true to color for decades to come.

Below are our recommendations for daily and weekly pearl care, long term maintenance of your pearls, and a few tips on deep cleaning pearl jewelry. Last but not least we’ve included a helpful list of what NOT to do when wearing and caring for your pearls.

Daily Pearl Care Tips

Daily Pearl Care Tips and Tricks
  • Put your pearls on last, after all cosmetics, lotions, hairspray and perfume has been applied.
  • Remove your pearls before doing any “touch ups” to avoid getting cosmetics or perfume on their surfaces.
  • Take your pearls off first after your done wearing them. Wipe them down with a soft, very slightly damp cloth to remove any chemical residues.
  • Show them some love by wearing them regularly. Pearls need moisture in order to maintain their luster and structural integrity. They’ll get all the moisture they need by absorbing some of the oils from your skin.
  • Store your pearls in a soft cloth or velvet pouch, away from other sharp metals in your jewelry box. This keeps them safe from getting scratched by metal components.

Long Term Maintenance

  • Pearl necklaces and bracelets will need restringing once a year if you wear them often, and once every two or three years for less frequent wear. This keeps the silk knots nice and tight, and even more important: clean. There’s nothing worse than dirty, frayed silk.
  • To give your pearls a moisture boost, feel free to give them a steam bath while you’re showering once every few years. Keep the pearls resting on the counter (not hanging) to avoid stretching out the knots.
  • Deep clean and polish your pearls to restore color and luster. This should be done every few years or so (more on that later).
  • As with other fine jewelry you own, look for malfunctioning hardware and ensure that all mountings are secure and not coming loose.
How to Care for Your Pearls Long-Term

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How To Deep Clean Your Pearls

How to Deep Clean Your Pearls
  • Using warm, clean water and a perfume-free soap (think Ivory soap or Castile soap) mixture, wet a soft cloth, and gently clean each pearl on your bracelet or pearl necklace.
  • Using another soft cloth wet with water only, “rinse” your pearls from all soap residue. Make sure this is a thorough job, otherwise you could damage your pearls by leaving soap on the delicate surfaces, drying the pearls out.
  • Lay your pearls flat to air dry completely. Avoid hanging your pearls from a hook as this stretches out the silk knots.
  • If your pearls are very dirty, and it is time to have them restrung, then contact a pearl specialist to have them professionally cleaned, strung and polished to restore their shine. 

What To Avoid

  • Avoid going swimming or take showers while wearing your pearls. The chlorine in the water eats away at the nacre, and loosens mountings for pearl earrings, pendants and rings.
  • Avoid hanging your necklaces and pearl bracelets for storage. This stretches out the silk knots between each pearl and can lead to early strand breakage.
  • Avoid doing housework in your pearls. The harsh chemicals in most cleaning agents can do severe damage to your gems.
  • Avoid using ammonia, bleach, vinegar or hydrogen peroxide to "whiten" them.
  • Avoid spraying your pearls with perfumes or hairspray directly. This can discolor them and speeds up the ageing process.
  • Avoid storing your pearls in airtight plastic bags or bank safety deposit boxes. This dries out your pearls, and can lead to them crumbling away.
What NOT To Do When Caring For Your Pearls

Because pearls are porous, over the decades they will begin to “age” and white pearls will slowly turn a distinct shade of cream. This is natural and unfortunately, unavoidable and irreversible once it happens. The good news is, is that staving off the ageing process is possible with good jewelry care habits. Often pearls will not "age" for decades and it's not something that should be too much of a concern. With regular deep cleanings and wear, your pearls will retain their moisture, shine and beauty for a lifetime.


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