The Jewelry Box


The Jewelry Box Blog

How to Clean Pearls Without Ruining Them

on Dec 10, 2019 9:14 AM
How to Clean Pearls

It doesn't get much more classic than pearls. These popular keepsakes manage to be dainty and sweet, yet bold at the same time. (Explains why they're a common choice for weddings!)

Cultured pearls are delicate and require proper care. They can't be maintained the same way as other jewelry. Read on to learn how to best clean and care for your pearls.

How to Clean Pearls

1. After every wear, wipe your pearls with a soft cloth. This will help prevent any buildup of oils or other substances that may have come in contact with your jewelry throughout the day.

2. Clean with a damp cloth only as needed. If your pearls are visibly stained, you can mix a solution of lukewarm water and mild dish soap, dip a soft cleaning cloth in it and wipe the pearls. Do NOT submerge a pearl necklace in water, as it will weaken the silk thread.

3. Let them dry all the way before storing. Again, this helps preserve the elasticity of the silk strand.

4. Take them to your jeweler once a year. While you want to wear your pearls often to keep them hydrated, all that body oil doesn't do the silk thread any favors. Make sure to have your jeweler check the integrity of your pearl bracelets and necklaces once a year. They can also give them a thorough, safe cleaning.

Never clean pearls with a steam or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Both of these methods are likely to damage the outer layer of the pearl.

Pro Tip: "Cultured pearls should be strung with a knot between each bead to prevent loss if the strand breaks." - Jewelers of America

Pearl Maintenance Tips

Pearls are commonly passed down to become a treasured family heirloom. Make sure your pearls last long enough to achieve heirloom status by following these maintenance tips:

1. Last on, first off. Pearls should be the final touch to your outfit. Avoid applying makeup, hairspray, lotion or perfume once your pearls are on.

2. Store them flat. While it's perfectly acceptable for most necklaces to be hung on a cute jewelry rack, your pearl strands should not be. Store pearl necklaces flat to prevent them from stretching.

3. Dedicate a space just for your pearls. Soft pearls are prone to scratches, so store them separately in fabric-lined compartments.

4. Wear your pearls often. Pearls do best in a moist environment, so wearing them frequently keeps them from drying out. Easiest. Advice. Ever. 

Now that you know how to clean and care for pearls, go put yours on!

Interested in seeing how much it costs to insure a pearl necklace? Click here to get a fast and free quote in minutes, without providing any personal information.


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Nice tips.

Sharon Smith

It's very important to take proper care of your pearl jewelry. First of all clean your pearl jewelry with a soft, damp cloth. Keeping your jewelry in a separate pouch or box. The most important thing is that don't use direct water to clean the pearl jewelry. You have shared a lot of information which is very useful also from Timeless Pearl I got some different useful tips. Thanks for sharing, its really helpful for pearl lover.

Sharon Smith

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Thanks for reading, Sharon!

Chelsea Drusch

I have a pearl that I purchased in Taha, French polonesia. The pearl came off its gold mount. How do I clean the epoxy from the mount and the pearl's drilled hole?

Ray Jodoin

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Ray - Pearls are very sensitive. While it may be possible to clean them at home, we have to recommend working with your jeweler. They have the proper tools and will be able to stand behind the repair. Good luck!

Chelsea Drusch

I have a pearl and gold tin cup necklace. The gold has tarnished on the necklace from exposure to bleach fumes. What is the best way to clean the entire necklace to lessen damage to the pearls? Thank you!

Bennita Barnett

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Bennita - This is a great question! I'm so glad you're being very considerate about how you care for your jewelry. Given the unique properties, we recommend you bring your necklace to a jeweler and ask them to look it over and provide a recommendation. Thanks so much for reading!

Chelsea Drusch

the area between pearls is knotted, but you can see grime at the base of knot on the pearls there are 99 pearls on double strane

maryanne kolker

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Hi Maryanne - If you're looking to clean your pearl necklace, try a new, baby-size toothbrush to brush away any grime. We also highly recommend bringing your time to your local jeweler for the best clean possible. Thanks for reading!

Chelsea Drusch

What if you have some very old pearls that are highly discolored and have not been worn in over 30 plus years? My daughter is getting married next year and I want them passed on to her but want them in the best shape possible first. thanks

Lori-Ann Crofoot

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