Articles / Cleaning and Care of Cultured Pearls

Nacre is the name of the substance secreted by oysters to create pearls. It is a unique material that displays a wonderfully pleasing interplay of light and color, but it is also relatively soft and porous, compared to other popular gems. Pearls are also susceptible to damage from chemicals. Thus, cosmetics, perfumes and hair care products should be applied before putting on pearls, and they should not be applied to parts of the body where they will touch your pearls.

- Heat can damage pearls. Blow-dry your hair before putting on pearl jewelry.

- The chemicals in pools, hot tubs and even in tap water can be too harsh for pearls. Do not swim or shower while wearing pearls.

- Store pearl jewelry separately from other jewelry. Metals and other harder gemstones can scratch pearls. They are best stored in a soft cloth pouch or lined jewelry box.

- Do not store pearls in plastic. Nacre is an organic material that needs to breath.

- Restring pearl necklaces periodically, depending on how often they are worn. They definitely need to be restrung when the knots are discolored or the necklace appears stretched.

- Most experts recommend silk thread for pearl necklaces but nylon is also considered acceptable. The string should be knotted between each pearl. This prevents all the pearls in a strand from scattering should a break occur. Knotting also prevents the pearls from rubbing against each other, which can damage nacre.

- Wear your pearls often. The body's natural oils increase the luster and beauty of pearls - a wonderful fact which one can read as proof that nature surely did create the pearl for human adornment.

David WeissDavid Weiss

Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Certified Appraiser