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  • May 21, 2021

Cleaning and Caring for Pearl Jewelry

Dainty and sweet, yet bold at the same time, pearls are always a beautiful and classic choice. Diamonds might be “forever,” but pearls can also last a lifetime and be passed down through generations with adequate cleaning and care. Thankfully, special care is not hard to do.

Pearl Formation

Pearls are organic gems that are formed inside of living organisms. When an irritant - sand or otherwise - finds its way inside an oyster or mussel and embeds itself into the walls of the shell, the organism secretes a fluid around the irritant to soothe itself. As layer upon layer forms around the irritant, a pearl is formed. Pearls are ranked 2.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, meaning they are considered a relatively soft gem that can be easily scratched.

Proper Care and Cleaning

Pearls are delicate and require proper care when cleaning. Vulnerable to acid, alkaline, and humidity, these gemstones should follow the golden rule of “last on, first off,” meaning they should be put on as the final touch, after applying make-up, perfume, and hair spray. Also, always remove pearls first before getting undressed.

After each wear, wipe pearls with a soft chamois cloth to remove oils and perspiration. If they appear visibly stained, a simple solution of lukewarm water and mild soap can be used to gently clean them. Never submerge a pearl necklace in water, as it will weaken the silk thread. Pearls mounted on rings or earrings are normally glued to posts and even though water will not damage the gemstone, it can dissolve the glue, risking loss. Always allow pearl jewelry to dry completely before storing.

Take your pearls to your jeweler once a year to have the silk threads and/or glued posts checked and to give the gems a thorough, safe cleaning. Gary J. Long Jewelers is happy to clean and inspect all of your pearl jewelry.

Maintenance and Storage

Pearls benefit from the moisture of the body, so wear them often to keep them hydrated and looking their best. Always remove your pearls before exercise in order to avoid exposure to sweat or risk breakage. Do not sleep in your pearls, as it can stretch and weaken the string.

In order to avoid cracking or drying, they should never be stored in plastic or air-tight containers. While most necklaces are fine to be hung on a rack, pearls should not. Store pearl bracelets and necklaces flat and away from other jewelry to prevent stretching or getting tangled. Soft pearls are prone to scratching, so it is best to store them individually in fabric-lined compartments or pouches.

Pearls are classic and timeless. In order to maintain their beauty, proper care is needed. As with other items of value and importance, you’ll want to be mindful of how you wear and store them. With a little bit of knowledge and adequate, regular cleaning, you can keep your pearls beautiful and lustrous for a lifetime. Gary J. Long Jewelers has a wide selection of beautiful pearl jewelry to choose from, or we can always create a custom, unique piece. Come visit us to see what we can do for you and bring your existing pearls in for a thorough cleaning and inspection.