The everlasting appeal of pearls as classic jewelry pieces is never out of fashion. And the exciting thing is that pearls go well with almost every outfit you wear, from tank tops to t-shirts, sweaters, and more!
However, excessive use of their delicate texture can impact the fragile nacre coating. If the coating chips off, the pearl will instantly lose its shine and be in constant danger of cracks, chips, and gaps on its body.
In this guide, we will cover everything about how to clean pearl jewelry – from storing them to tips and tricks on increasing pearls’ longevity. We’ll also reflect on how to deep clean pearls and when and how to restring them.
So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!
Why Clean Pearls?
Source: TTT Jewelry
Pearls comprise three elements: calcium carbonate (CaCO3) that constitutes over 86% of the whole pearl body, while water takes 2-4%, and the rest of the 10% is conchiolin – the organic binding agent.
And since pearls are organic gems with calcium carbonate as the primary constituent, they are delicate in nature and at significant risk if exposed to chemicals. Various common everyday items like fragrances, sunscreens, cosmetics, household cleaners, hairsprays can affect a pearl’s quality, making them dull and chalky.
Also, pearls need extra care because of their fragile nacre coating (nacre is the combination of calcium carbonate and conchiolin). With time, the nacre coating becomes weaker due to getting in contact with toxins, which is why it is necessary to be extra cautious when wearing pearls.
Furthermore, various factors that may determine how long a pearl’s nacre coating will last are its species, different pearl types, shapes, and the water it exists in. The better the nacre coating, the longer the life of a pearl.
How to Clean Pearl Jewelry?
Timely cleaning of pearls is essential regardless of pearl manufacturing. Simply put, whether you have organic or fake glass or plastic pearls, the outer coating can break off, making the pearl bead dim and lifeless.
So, if you want your pearls to last longer, it is essential to take great care while wearing them. Also, cleaning pearls every day or whenever you unwear them counts as another step towards having healthy, bright pearls.
Now, let’s learn how to clean pearl jewelry!
- A soft, clean cloth
- Lukewarm water
- Mild detergent/Dish soap
- Soft, highly-absorbent towel
Because chemicals have a direct and adverse effect on pearls, the selection of what to clean them with is indirectly related to the longevity of pearls. Baby soap is a better choice when cleaning pearls as it doesn’t contain harsh ingredients. PS, you should never use a detergent on pearls unless the product explicitly states its safe use for pearl beads.
Also, you should double-check the water temperature before cleaning the pearl bead. Steaming water is a complete NO as heat can damage the quality of pearls. It will be excellent if you use running water lukewarm enough to remove any stains, dirt, or debris from the body of the pearl.
The following shows a step-by-step process of how to clean pearl jewelry at home!
- Inspect Your Pearls
The first step is to examine pearls before you clean them carefully. It is a good sign if the silk between the two beads is strong and un-stretchy. Also, double-check the opening and closing of the clasp in necklaces/bracelets; for earrings, look at the attachment.
- Prepare the Cleaning Solution
- Take the lukewarm water (almost four tablespoons) and mix a few (two to three) drops of detergent/baby soap/dish soap (pearls-approved!) in it.
- Gently mix the soapy water solution.
- Wipe Your Pearls
- Now, take the soft, clean cloth and dampen it in the cleaning solution.
- Remove the excess solution by squeezing the cloth (if necessary).
- Wipe off a pearl bead with a corner (of dampened cloth) while applying minimum pressure.
- Repeat the same with all the other pearl beads.
- Wipe Pearls Again
After cleaning pearls with soapy water, it is time to remove any soapy residue left in between beads. It is crucial since any leftover soap (even if it is safe to use on pearls) can be toxic to the nacre. Follow these steps:
- Take a small piece of cotton.
- Gently dab each pearl while ensuring the cotton absorbs all that is left of soapy water.
- Gently wipe the cotton on silk strings between the beads.
- Dry Your Pearls
Make sure the towel has soft material and doesn’t feel sharp or pricky. It will maintain the elasticity of silk strings and the quality of nacre in pearls. To dry:
- Lay all the cleaned pearl pieces on a soft, highly-absorbent towel.
- Let the jewelry dry in the air for ten to fifteen minutes.
How Often to Clean Pearls?
Pearls are delicate and expensive at the same time. So, you should do your best to preserve their shine, nacre, and silk elasticity. It’s good to clean them with a soft cloth every time you un-wear pearl jewelry. And as stated earlier, cultured pearls, or glass/plastic pearls, you should clean everyone after taking them off.
If pearls look a little dirty or you suspect traces of body oil, you can always clean them with water+soap solution. Furthermore, once every week or once per ten days is good enough to clean pearls. However, you should be cautious as too rigorous or more than often cleaning can also make pearls lose their shine and luster.
How to Deep Clean Pearls?
At times when water+soapy solution doesn’t work or isn’t enough to bring back the lustering beam of your pearls, know that it is time to give your pearls a deep clean. Also, if you are wearing pearls after a long time, you better first deep clean them (depending on their condition) and then shift to timely cleaning with a water+soapy solution.
Simple VS Deep Pearl Cleaning
The difference between simple and deep pearl cleaning is that the former includes wiping beads with a soft cloth dampened in the soapy solution and later dabbing off any residue with cotton. While, on the other hand, deep cleaning requires leaving your pearl jewelry in a soapy solution for a while to let the detergent remove any intense stains/debris.
The Right Detergent Type
Ensure the detergent is not harsh, nor is the water extremely cold/hot. Since the pearls will spend more time in a soapy solution, you have to be extra careful in selecting the suitable detergent. An organic or eco-friendly detergent/dish soap is an excellent option here.
Besides, you should only think of deep cleaning if your pearls look dull, and removing stains requires applying pressure. Otherwise, cleaning them every day with a soft cloth or with a soapy solution is enough and won’t cause your pearls to lose their shine.
- Lukewarm water
- Detergent/Dish soap
- A soft, highly-absorbent towel
- Chamois leather
How to Deep Clean Pearls
To prepare your soapy solution and deep clean your pearls:
- Take the lukewarm water (almost four tablespoons) and mix a few (one or two) drops of detergent/baby soap/dish soap (pearls-approved!) in it.
- Gently mix the soapy water solution.
- Immerse the pearls in the water carefully.
- Let the pearls soak in warm water for three to five minutes.
- After, take out the pearls gently and lay them on a soft, highly-absorbent towel.
- Use chamois leather to absorb any soapy residue on each pearl bead and silk thread.
- If you suspect the soapy residue is still there, use cotton dampen in clear, lukewarm water to clean the jewelry.
- Let the pearls dry in the air for ten to fifteen minutes.
It is vital not to let your pearls stay in soapy water for more than five minutes, as doing so will put your jewelry at immediate risk of deterioration. Also, be careful when placing or taking out your pearls; make sure not to drop them/strike them with a hard surface.
Lastly, when deep cleaning your pearls, you should also pay attention to the clasps and attachments in necklaces/bracelets and earrings.
Pearl Maintenance Tips
Source: TTT Jewelry
Keep in mind the following tips and tricks to increase the longevity of pearls:
- Always wear your pearls at the end of dressing up. If you use perfume/body spray, wait for a few seconds for the fragrance to subside before touching/wearing your pearls.
- If you are a fitness freak, make sure to remove your pearls before doing the workout.
- Unwear your pearl jewelry while showering, swimming, cooking, or doing dishes.
- Wipe pearls with a soft cloth every time you take them off.
- Restring pearls every few years or when they become loose.
- Choose your dress wisely. You do not want your pearls to lose their shine by friction caused by rubbing with rough fabric.
- Unwear your pearls before sleeping. Else, the jewelry is at high risk of loosening up and/or breaking during sleep.
Things to Avoid
You should avoid the following when wearing pearls:
- Do not let your pearls get in contact with harsh chemicals and acids like hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, and chlorine bleach. Research shows that these chemicals can destroy any jewelry item, which is why you should try to protect your pearls even more!
- Avoid wearing pearls on a hot day as sweat and hot temperatures can harm the nacre coating.
- Never pull or stretch your pearl necklace/bracelet.
- Avoid hanging your pearls when cleaning, drying, or storing them.
- An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner is a big NO for pearls.
- Keep your pearls away from any kind of vibration.
- Avoid using any household product on pearls, including vinegar, nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, etc.
- Avoid wearing pearls if you suspect the silk thread is wet. Else, the string will stretch and may become loose.
- Do not wear pearls with other jewelry.
How to Store Pearls Properly?
Source: TTT Jewelry
Storing pearls the right way also helps maintain them for a longer time. Do remember the following points when storing your pearls:
- Plastic is a pearl’s enemy. Whether it is a plastic bag or a plastic box, never store your pearls in it.
- Do not store pearls with other jewelry to keep them safe and scratch-free.
- Always keep your pearls flat in the storage box.
- First, wrap the pearls in chamois leather and place them in the storage box.
- Never hang your pearl jewelry.
- Do not leave pearls unattended, especially in the air. Unwear and store them instantly.
- If pearls are exposed to body oil, sweat, or any other wet stuff, first wipe them with a soft cloth, let them dry for a minute or two, and then store.
- Make sure the clasps are closed, and every piece of pearl jewelry is separated from the other.
- Always look for velvet or satin-lined storage box and double-check the spacious designated compartments to store pearl jewelry.
- If you have to carry your pearls, wrap them in chamois leather and keep them in a soft-lined pouch.
- Do not store pearls in too hot/cold space. The moderate temperature is excellent.
- Avoid taking your pearls in direct sunlight. According to research, UV lights are harsh and can change the visible fluorescence of pearls.
How Often Should You Wear Your Pearls?
The nacre in pearls is most responsible for keeping the shine and luster. To avoid it getting brittle, dry, discolored, and eventually cracking, you should wear your pearls often. A few times once per month is completely fine as long as pearls do not contact hot/cold water/temperature, chemicals, and air pollutants.
Also, if you prefer wearing pearl jewelry on special occasions only, try to wear it at least two to three times a year.
When Restring Pearls?
Like a pearl’s nacre deteriorates over time, the silk threads with which two pearl beads are joined also lose elasticity. When the pearls rub against each other, the silk threads stretch, leading to string decay. If you suspect the pearl beads in your jewelry have a little more than the typical distance between them, know that the silk thread is loosening.
The best solution to this is restringing your pearls, though it takes patience and practice to master the art. You shouldn’t indulge in restringing your pearls if you’ve never done it before. A professional is more likely to save the silk threads making sure the necklace/bracelet lasts longer.
The Right Restringing Technique
Depending on the expertise in the field, you can expect a minimum of 45 minutes to a maximum of three to five hours while restringing pearls. The jewelry is restrung with a knot after each pearl bead to strengthen the silk integrity even more.
Such an effective method comes in handy if, due to any reason, the necklace/bracelet breaks. The knot after each bead will stop it from breaking resulting in only one broken bead rather than the entire bracelet/necklace.
This way, your peals will also be saved from any damage from falling onto the ground or any other hard surface. Besides, you can easily have the broken bead restring in no time as it is only one bead that needs to be knotted again.
How to Restring Pearls?
Before restringing pearls, arrange them on a flat but soft surface in a way you want to string them. You can also experiment this way and find the best-looking pearl arrangement.
The standard equipment to restring pearls includes pearl beads, silk thread, super glue, a lighter (or matches), toothpicks, clasp, and clippers. PS, always take more thread than required to avoid facing a short strand later.
To begin, thread the clasp onto the string and tie a tight knot around it. Then, take a pearl bead and pass the silk thread into it; again, secure it with a tight knot. The answer to how much distance should be between two pearls is “minimum.” Tying knots is what takes time and skill, as you have to secure a pearl in such a way that the pearl can exhibit no coiling effect.
A loose necklace/bracelet has moving beads, so make sure to eliminate as much movement as possible between two pearls. At the same time, the knots should not be too tight that it makes the pearls touch each other’s nacre since it would cancel the primary purpose of knotting after each bead.
After beading all the pearls and tying knots successfully, the last step is to thread the other part of the clasp and secure it with a knot. You shouldn’t try to stretch the restrung pearls but handle them carefully and gently.
About TTT Jewelry
TTT Jewelry is a Chinese jewelry manufacturer that creates and designs a diverse variety of jewelry for brands, corporations, and retailers. Apart from that, TTT is your one-stop shop for all one-of-a-kind jewelry items, so you’ll get suitable branding and marketing aid as well.
With ten years of industry experience, TTT is fully capable of offering the highest quality and unique electroplated and other jewel products. Our jewelry has premium quality and is rust-resistant with an increased thickness. Furthermore, our skilled artisans excel at creating aesthetically appealing and peculiar jewelry.
What else? TTT Jewelry is safe from any irritating or dangerous alloys. You are more than welcome to visit TTT’s YouTube channel to see fine jewelry manufacturing for yourself. Or, explore our exciting, fashionable jewelry products at tttjewelry.com!