Taking Care of Pearls

 Written by Brad Kaufman, guest blogger

pearl necklace on lace

(Shutterstock image)


An Add-A-Pearl necklace is a cherished tradition and a lovely accessory for many styles. But, like most things, pearl necklaces need a little love to keep the high-quality pearls looking good throughout the years.  Pearls are a soft gem, and though quite durable, do need special attention to maintain their luster and condition over time.  Here are our top three tips for keeping your pearls perfect and pristine:


  1. Last on, first off. When dressing or undressing, your pearls should be the last thing you put on, after spraying hairspray and perfume, and the first thing you take off. Hairsprays and gels are lacquers that will coat your pearls. Once you have lacquered them up a few times, your peals will start to look yellow which is why many family pearl heirlooms have a yellowish tint. Grandma probably waited until she was just about finished getting ready to spray her hair and over a period of time, the hairspray turned her pearls yellow. In addition to ruining the pearls skin, putting your pearls on last will prevent catching your peals on your clothes and breaking the strand or snagging your clothes. While this might seem a tad obvious, it is a very simple way to guard against wear and tear.  Nothing could be more frustrating than snagging your necklace as you pull clothing on and off.  
  2. Savvy storage.  Proper storage is essential to long-term success in keeping your pearls looking as perfect as the first day you clasped them around your neck.  There are a few things you need to keep in mind when scoping out a spot: breathing room, no excessive heat, and no abrasive surfaces.  Pearls need to breathe and can't be exposed to heat. Overtime, your pearls can dry out and the nacre can crack, flake, and peel.  Being aware of how you store them can give your pearls a long, beautiful life.  If you have a jewelry box with a separate lined drawer already, then this could be the perfect place to stash your pearls.  Otherwise, wrapping your pearls in a soft pouch or selvyt cloth and setting them in a spot where they won't get jostled should keep them safe.  Please, we’re begging you, don't use a plastic baggie—your pearls will thank you too!
  3. Careful cleaning. A great way to make cleaning your pearls a habit is to give them a going-over each time you take them off.  Take a soft cloth dampened with water, and gently rub each pearl.  Then lay the pearls out on a soft, dry cloth to dry before storing or wearing. Wearing the pearls while damp or wet can increase the absorption of natural body oils into the pearls and can effect their condition over time.  Always try to keep cosmetics, perfume, and hair products away from your pearls.  These caustic solutions will cause damage, especially if left on the surface over time.  Regularly wiping down the surface of your pearls can avoid buildup of these everyday, yet harmful, solutions.  Always avoid using abrasive cleaners, Windex, detergents, ultrasonic solutions, or steamers. Pearls are porous, which means that oils and lotions and perfumes will penetrate them. So be sure to minimize their exposure to perfumes and sweat. They will soak it up, and it cannot be removed. Only use specified jewelry cleaners so long as they specifically say they are safe for pearls.  That said, water is always a safe and convenient option. After all, pearls grow - and spend years - under the water. 
  4. Restring. Whether you think they need it or not, have your pearls restrung every 2 years. The damage that loose knots do to pearls, and allow pearls to do to each other, cannot be seen without magnification…until it’s too late.


Show your favorite pearls a little love with every wear by putting them on last and taking them off first, storing them protectively, cleaning them with care, and having them restrung regularly. With a timeless Add-A-Pearl piece, you spend a lifetime building your necklace and each pearl is filled with tradition.  Much like your memories, you’ll want to cherish your pearls and wear them with pride, so keep them looking just as beautiful as the first wear with these helpful tips!



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