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Cleaning & Storing Your Pearl Jewelry

As beautiful as cultured pearls are they are a delicate gem and need to be cared for to last a lifetime and beyond. Even though pearls have natural nacre thick coatings, they are more fragile than most other gemstones. With pearls becoming more and more popular as designers create new styles, wear them proudly as your main fashion accessory. Just remember, it's important you keep your pearls in the best condition possible for a long life. 

Pearl Care

Pearls should be the last item you put on, after your have dressed, and have applied spray your hair product, makeup and perfume. Never spray perfumes while wearing your pearls as the chemicals will damage the luster and reduce pearl quality. 

Take off your pearl rings, bracelets and necklaces before you apply hand and body creams. Similar to applying perfume, lotions have chemicals that may damage the luster and quality of your pearls.

Take off your pearls before bathing or showering.

Leave your pearls at home when going to the pool, beach or health club. Sun protection lotions, aloe, sweat, and water will damage your pearls.

When you take off your pearls wipe them clean with a soft lint-free cloth. While dry is preferred you can dampen the cloth with water to help remove dirt or chemicals they have been exposed to during the day or evening. Let pearls air dry before putting them in your jewelry box. With pearls, your body's natural oils can help to enhance the shine and luster and wiping dry will assist with maintaining a good natural oil level.

For noticeably dirty pearls clean them with a mild soap and water solution, (try Ivory flakes). But be careful not let the soap remain on the pearls. After cleaning wipe them with a water dampened or dry cloth to remove soap residue. Know that your pearls may yellow over time. Once they have turned there is one thing you can do that may return some of the whiteness. Combine 1 tbsp. of mild liquid hand soap with 1 cup of warm water in a small bowl. Stir it well to combine. Then place the yellowed pearls into the soapy water and use a soft cotton cloth to gently clean them. This should never be a regular practice as continuously soaking pearls in water may damage them.

Cultured pearls can benefit from a very light coating of baby oil. This helps promote their shine and luster just as with your body oils. Just add a small drop onto a cloth and gently apply. Otherwise, treat them exactly as you would your natural pearls.

Never submerge your pearls in water even for a short time. Although pearls were created in water, as soon they are brought to the surface, they no longer have the same same strength and durability as when they were created in the sea. When your pearls yellow you can try to bring back the natural color with the method previously described.

Never use cleaning solutions that contain ammonia or harsh detergents when cleaning your pearls. This would include any cleaners you may use for your sterling silver and gold jewelry, including Windex and vinegar.

Never use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean pearls. This appliance is for more durable items such as silver, gold and diamonds.

Never use abrasive cleaners or rub pearls with an abrasive cloth. You will risk rubbing and wearing away the natural nacre coating (the outer layer of the pearl), leaving you with dull and plain looking beads.

Storing Your Pearls

One thing to remember is pearls turn yellow with time.

The chief reason is they become dry. If there is no air circulation and moisture where your pearls are kept, their organic composition begins to change. As the pearls dry out with time, they may lose their color and become yellowish. Once they have become yellowed they are not fully repairable.

Do not store your pearls with any other jewelry.  When allowed to touch or rub against metals such as gold and silver, and other hard gemstones, the pearl can become easily scratched.

It is best to store your pearls in a soft chamois or silk bag. As an alternative you can place them in a separate fabric-lined compartment in your jewelry box away from more abrasive jewelry items. 

Frequently inspect the silk or nylon cord holding your necklace or bracelet together. If weakening appears you may need to have expensive pearls restrung  to maintain the integrity of the strand. Some people who wear their pearls daily or very often have them restrung annually.

Restringing Your Pearls 

To prevent strand breakage, it's a good idea to have your pearls restrung periodically. Some people have them done annually if the jewelry is worn often. If you are an occasional wearer, then strands may last for several years. When having pearls restrung request the cord be knotting between each pearl. This will help prevent pearls from falling off the strand is the strand breaks. Also, knotting prevents the pearls from rubbing against one another causing damage at the hole locations.

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