Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Carla Jonas
Pearls are gems of the sea. They are the only naturally created gemstones that come from living creatures. But, they do require special care to keep them lustrous. You must care for real cultured pearls, in ways unlike other gems, in order to keep their high-quality pearl grades.
Quick Tips on Ways to Care for Real Cultured Pearls
One reason why pearls need special attention is that they are very soft. So, it’s important that you never just toss them in your jewelry box next to or on top of other gemstones. Instead, store your pearls in a jewelry pouch.
Wearing a strand of pearls regularly means the gems coming in close contact with your skin often. Gradually, the pearls will absorb the skin’s acid, which will eat slowly into the gemstone itself. This won’t cause it to lose pearl luster. It will, however, cause its spherical shape to become more barrel-shaped.
To Slow This Process: You can slow up the process of the pearls absorbing acid from your skin. After wearing them, simply wipe your gemstones off with a soft cloth.
Chemicals, Heat & Dry Air
There are other elements that can damage pearls, such as lemon juice, vinegar, perfume, cologne and other chemicals. Heat tends to make pearls crack and turns them brown. Dry air also has a tendency to damage the gems.
Other Quick Tips At-A-Glance
- Grab the metal part or shank of a pearl ring when taking it off. Never grab it by the pearl. This brings it in contact with your hand’s skin oil and may cause it to become loose.
- Only clean pearl jewelry with cleaners that are labeled “safe for pearls.”
- Never steam clean or use ultrasonic cleaners on these gems.
- Never clean your pearls, or expose them to, wash detergents, dish washing liquid, ammonia-based cleaners (such as Windex), baking soda, powdered cleansers or bleach.
- Do not clean your pearls using scouring pads, toothbrushes or other abrasive materials.
- Do not wear your pearls if the string is wet. This will cause the string to stretch out and attract dirt.
- If your pearls are wet, never hang them up to dry. Instead, lay them out flat on a dry towel.
- When swimming, showering, applying perfume, hair spray or cosmetics, always remove your pearl jewelry first.
- Restring your pearls annually if they’re worn often.
How to Clean Real Cultured Pearls
Every time you wear pearls, it’s good practice to wipe them off afterward. Use a damp or dry chamois or soft cloth. This prevents the accumulation of dirt. It also removes any acidic perspiration from dissolving the pearl nacre. To help maintain the pearl luster, put a drop of olive oil on your pearl cleaning cloth.
Have your pearls been sitting around dirty for a while? If so, you can clean them with a pearl cleaner. If the task is too difficult, your local jeweler can clean them for you. Just remember that these gems are precious and soft. So, the best way to clean and care for real cultured pearls is very carefully.
How to Store Real Cultured Pearls Properly
Pearls are extremely shock-resistant and cohesive. However, bringing them in contact with other gems and sharp objects may scratch them.
The best way to prevent your pearl jewelry from scratching and tangling up is to fasten the pins and clips. Then, lay out each piece separately in a jewelry box with compartments.
Store your gems in a protective jewelry pouch when carrying your accessories. And, never store them in security boxes for long periods of time. They lack humidity, which can cause the pearls to become dehydrated.
Pearl Necklace Lengths and Jewelry Terms
There are many types of pearl necklaces. These various strands of pearls come in different lengths and are typically worn for different occasions:
- Rope Pearl Necklace – 40 inches or longer – Generally, two or three strands of pearls with knots
- Opera Pearl Necklace – 30 inches to 36 inches long – Usually two strands of pearls worn with formal wear
- Matinee Pearl Necklace – 20 inches to 24 inches long – Length generally worn with daytime wear
- Princess Pearl Necklace – 17 inches to 18 inches long – Longer choker version, and most popular necklace lengths
- Choker Pearl Necklace – About 16 inches – Can be worn for both casual and formal occasions
Pearl Education & Buying Pearls
The Pearl Source takes pride in educating our customers on how to care for real cultured pearls. Our Pearl Education resources help you learn about pearl grading, pearl sizing, pearl types, necklace lengths and other important facts about pearls.
Interested in buying genuine cultured pearl from a jeweler you can trust? The Pearl Source has been a family owned jewelry for over 25 years. Located in the heart of the world-famous Jewelry District, Downtown Los Angeles, we really know pearls. Check out our pearl necklace selection today!
Watch our video on pearl care below to make sure you are taking the best care of your special gems:
- Where Does Mother of Pearl Come From? - January 4, 2021
- How to Buy Pearls: Everything You Need to Know - May 2, 2018
- Your 2018 Guide to Wearing Men’s Jewelry with Class & Sophistication - February 19, 2018