How to clean and preserve your pearls
Genuine pearls are highly long-lasting, but also extremely delicate. Their organic origin means they have a limited life span of about 200 years, according to experts, although there have been found some pieces dating back several centuries.
However, just like everything else, pearls also require a certain care and storage procedures so that they can always look beautiful and shiny. Our jewellery experts explain on this post how to do it, since preserving pearls, whether cultured or natural, is much easier than you might think.
1. Japan, the main producer of pearls
You probably know that pearls are the only gems which are found inside molluscs, either in fresh or salt water, but it is actually very difficult to get them, since only one out of ten thousand molluscs will produce a pearl.
That’s why pearls are so much valuable. But the fact is that they are also one of the most demanded jewels, and given their scarcity, at the beginning of the 19th Century there was an overuse in the market, and most of the pearls were cultivated, being Japan the main producer of pearls in the world.
2. How to clean pearls
Have you ever heard this saying: “The last thing you wear when you leave home, and the first thing you take off as soon as you arrive is your pearls necklace”? Do you know why? Because pearls can be damaged by just a slight contact with creams, self-tanners, hairsprays, perfumes… So, that’s why it’s always recommended to apply any kind of cosmetics a while before putting on your pearls, whether they are bracelets, earrings, necklaces… And they are also the first thing you have to take off as soon as you cross your home’s threshold. We also recommend you to follow the steps explained on this post, whether you buy your pearls in a jewellery shop or at a traditional or online auction.
Once you have taken them off, simply clean them with a slightly damp (with mineral water) soft cloth (a cloth for glasses, a jeweller’s rag…), to remove any traces that may have remained on them, as you can see in the image above. In case they get too dirty, just add neutral soap as gently as you can. Never use brushes, scourers or plastic sponges, since pearls could be easily scratched.
In order to keep them in good condition, they should not be used together with other pieces of jewellery or clothes made of rough fabrics, so as to protect them from scratches and scuffs. In addition, no matter how cool they are: you should not wear them in spas, swimming pools, beaches… because such contact with water and chemicals in it can damage the nacre and eventually crack the pearls. And, of course, never perform physical exercise while wearing them, since pearls are very sensitive to acids found in our sweat.
3. And how to store them
Knowing how to take care of pearls, in addition to cleaning them, also includes knowing how to store them, which is so much important, or even more, when it comes to better preserve them.
The first thing you should know is that you must never store your pearls in a standard airtight plastic bag, because they could suffer scratches; furthermore, pearls need a regular supply of fresh air to maintain a certain degree of humidity. A silk bag is the best option, and if you are going to store other kind of jewels in the same bag, don’t forget to separate the pearls by wrapping them with a silk or velvet cloth.
You probably keep your jewels either in a jewellery case or in a special sort of jewellery stand, but pearls, especially necklaces, should be placed flat and apart from other pieces of jewellery to avoid scratches.
You should also know that you must never store pearls near heat or cold sources, since those can damage the nacre and crack them.
Finally, another important point is that if you are not going to use your pearls again for a certain period of time, they will need to breathe, since their organic origin and the liquid habitat where they originated means that they need to be in contact with external humidity.
Now that you know how to preserve them, make your pearls shine bright!