People often ask us how to best care for their pearl jewellery and whether it is safe to wear pearls on a regular basis. The good news is that if you give a pearl care and consideration, it can be a treasure that lasts for generations!
But what should you be mindful of when caring for your pearl jewellery? Here are our responses to your 5 frequently asked pearl care questions:
1. How fragile are pearls?
Pearls rank at 2.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which measures how easily a material can be scratched by another. This means they are very soft and can be easily scratched or ground down by contact with other surfaces.
While pearls usually have a good toughness, they may become more fragile due to aging, dehydration or excessive bleaching that may have occurred during the initial processing of their formation. Pearls may also experience discolouration, cracking or splitting if they are exposed to high levels of heat. While pearls are usually stable when exposed to light for short periods of time, the heat from intense sunlight may cause them to dehydrate or develop a cracked nacre (their iridescent, outer coating). Long-term exposure to sunlight may also cause your pearls yellow.
2. Does perfume damage pearls?
Yes. Pearls are vulnerable to the chemicals found in perfumes, hairspray, cosmetics and even the PH levels of our perspiration. Any kind of acid – whether it’s fruit juice or cleaning products – is also damaging and should be rinsed off in lukewarm water immediately. While the lustre of pearls can be enhanced by the natural oils of our skin, direct contact with perfume and other skincare products should be avoided. Consider applying perfume in an area that won’t come into contact with your jewellery.
Remember the golden rule of pearl care: “pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off.” Style your hair and put on your perfume, makeup, and clothing before you put on your pearls. Always remove your pearl jewellery before exercising or conducting any hands-on activities.
3. Can I get my pearls wet?
Plain water does no harm to pearl itself – they were born in it! However, be wary of any chemicals that may be in the water, such as chlorine. Also, if your pearl is attached to metal, it’s best not to place it in hot water or immerse it in any water for too long, since this may melt the glue used to attach the pearl. If your strand of pearls get wet, allow it to dry completely before wearing it to avoid warping or stretching the cord.
4. How should I clean my pearl jewellery?
Wipe your pearls with a very soft, slightly damp cloth after each wear. Clean them occasionally with warm, mildly soapy water. Rinse thoroughly and place them on a soft towel to dry. Again, if your pearls are strung, the cord should be completely dry before wearing. If you wear a string of pearls regularly, it should be restrung every year or two.
Never expose your pearls to ultrasonic cleaner, steam cleaning, powder cleaners, baking soda, bleach, or detergents. Don’t use a toothbrush or any kind of abrasive surface to clean your pearls.
5. How should I store my pearl jewellery?
Whether wrapped in fabric or kept in a pouch or a box, pearls should be stored separate from other hard objects (such as other jewellery pieces) that they may rub against. Since pearls require a little moisture, it’s not a good idea to store them in a very dry room or a safety box for a long period of time. Never store pearls in a plastic bag since they can be damaged by the chemicals emitted by plastics, causing them to deteriorate over time.
But don’t store them away for too long! Pearls will improve their glowing lustre if you wear them regularly, albeit mindfully.