It’s always a good idea to come up with some kind of cleaning and care regime for your jewellery. Without it, your jewellery will become damaged, or dirty, losing its beautiful lustre. Pearls are no different, but they have different needs than other gemstones.
Pearls require some special treatment to keep them clean. They aren’t like other gemstones that are mined from the earth – all types of pearls are created by molluscs, and they are much more delicate than other stones we use in jewellery. This article will help you learn how to clean pearls and keep them looking their best for as long as possible.
How To Clean Pearls
If you want your pearls to look as good as new, you’ll have to give them special attention. They can’t be cleaned in the same way you might clean a diamond, for example. If a pearl gets scratched, it can’t be re-polished, as you would do with other gems.
They are heat and chemical sensitive, so you should keep them away from any harsh chemicals and high temperatures. That includes common jewellery cleaners, dishwashing liquid, detergents, ultrasonic machines and steam cleaners.
You should wipe pearls down with a soft cloth every time you take them off. Wiping them down with water should only be done when necessary if they are visibly stained.
Follow these steps for cleaning pearls properly:
- Check Your Jewellery – Inspect your jewellery to ensure that the pearls themselves, as well as the silk they’re strung on, are in good condition. Make sure the silk hasn’t been stretched or worn between the pearls, because if it should break, the pearls would fall and scatter. You can also check the clasp on necklaces or bracelets to make sure they open and close properly. Clasps can also be cleaned with warm soapy water.
- Wipe Them Down – Fill a basin with lukewarm, soapy water. Pure soap or soap flakes would be ideal. Then, using a soft cotton cloth soaked in the water, gently wipe each pearl down to remove any dirt or oils that have built up. Never submerge a strand of pearls in water.
- Dry – After cleaning the pearls gently dry each pearl using a soft cotton cloth. Lay your jewellery out on a soft towel to dry completely, and close the clasps to make sure they don’t accidentally scratch the pearls.
The way pearls are set in jewellery also affects the way you would clean them. Silk cords may stain when exposed to cleaners, or weaken when submerged in liquid for a long period. It’s a good idea to take your pearl jewellery to a jeweller at least once a year. They’ll be able to give them a complete clean and replace the silk if it’s damaged or stained.
What Do I Need to Clean My Pearls?
This is all you need to clean your pearls with:
- Two soft cotton cloths, one for wetting and one for drying.
- A bucket of soapy, lukewarm water.
- A clean towel to lay your jewellery on.
Why Do I Need to Clean My Pearls?
Without regular cleaning, real pearls can collect dirt and oils, which can make them look dirty and reduce their lustre. If left unchecked, the dirt can cause permanent damage and staining to pearls. Dirty pearls are also more likely to get scratches.
If you want your pearl jewellery to keep its value and beauty, it’s important to keep up with cleaning and maintenance practices.
What Is The Best Way To Clean Pearls?
The best way of cleaning pearls is to simply wipe them down gently with a very soft cloth and soapy lukewarm water. If you’re scared of damaging your pearls, you can always take them to a professional jeweller. A good jeweller will clean them so they look brand new, and will even match and replace scratched pearls.
How Do You Clean Old Pearls That Have Yellowed?
Genuine pearls go yellow over time, even if you clean them regularly. To remove the yellowing, you can soak them for a while in water mixed with very mild soap. Once they’ve soaked a bit, take them out and dry them with a soft cloth.
Will Vinegar Damage Pearls?
Vinegar will indeed damage pearls. The acetic acid in vinegar reacts with the calcium carbonate in the pearls, causing them to melt.
Does Alcohol Damage Pearls?
Alcohol can be used to clean harder gemstones but is not ideal for organic gems like pearls and opal. Alcohol will eat away the shiny coating of pearls, destroying their lustre.
Can You Clean Pearls With Baking Soda?
In short, no. Baking powder contains acids that can erode the nacre of pearls, changing their colour and reducing their lustre.
How To Maintain Your Pearls
The best way to keep your pearls clean is to maintain them well.
Here are a few things to do to keep them looking beautiful for longer:
- Pearls should always be the final touch to your outfit to avoid them touching body products such as hairspray, makeup, or perfume, which can damage them.
- Store pearls flat in a cloth-lined box. Ideally, they should be stored individually to avoid tangling. Their container should also not be airtight, as they need to breathe.
- Store pearls separately from other jewellery to avoid scratches.
- Wear your pearls as often as you can. Exposure to fresh air helps them to keep their moisture and lustre.
How to Clean Fake Pearls
To clean fake pearls, soak them in warm soapy water for a few minutes. You can then scrub them gently with a soft toothbrush to remove any grime that might coat the pearls. Once they are looking nice and shiny, dry them off with a soft cotton cloth. Fake pearls are not sensitive to chemicals, so you don’t need to worry about them coming into contact with harsh substances.
Keep Your Pearls in Perfect Condition
Now that you know about cleaning pearls and caring for them, you’ll be able to make the most of your jewellery. All pearls need is a bit of love, and they’ll last forever!