Have you ever wondered how to maintain the shine of your pearls? This unique gloss, called luster, is a favored characteristic of pearls. High-luster pearls are valued and they fetch higher prices.
This sheen is caused by light reflecting off the surface of the pearl and the layers of carbon beneath the surface. However, these same layers make pearls extremely susceptible to damage if not cared for properly.
Below are some cleaning tips to ensure that your pearls maintain their radiance.
1. Things to Avoid
A pearl is an organic gemstone, at once durable and delicate. A number of common household products and habits diminish luster and should be avoided at all times.
The carbon component of pearls makes them sensitive to acid, alkaline, extreme humidity and heat. Take care to not expose your pearl jewelry to:
- Makeup, perfume and hairspray
- All household cleaning products
- Commercial jewelry cleaners
- Ultrasonic cleaners
- Steam cleaning, or the steam from cooking, saunas and steam baths
- Extensive periods of direct sunlight, e.g. during sunbathing
Do not soak pearl jewelry in water. Water can cause the silk thread used to join strings of pearls to stretch or develop mildew if not dried completely.
Always follow the adage that ‘pearls should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off’ to avoid incidentally damaging them during your morning or evening beauty regimes.
2. Routine Pearl Cleaning
It is a good idea to clean your pearl jewelry after each wear to prevent a buildup of grime. This is especially important if you have been perspiring.
After each wear, wipe your pearls gently with a soft pearl-cleaning cloth soaked in purified water and wrung out. You can use the purified water found at your local grocery store in the bottled water aisle for this purpose. Take care not to pull the silk thread that connects the pearls as it can become stretched.
3. Occasional Pearl Cleaning
You may wish to clean your pearls more thoroughly every once in a while. You can do this by diluting baby shampoo or a similar neutral detergent with purified water and washing your pearls gently in this solution. Do not soak your pearls in the solution, but rather rinse off the solution immediately under running, purified water. Dry your pearls with a soft pearl-cleaning cloth to avoid watermarks from forming on the surface. Only wear your pearls once the silk thread connecting the pearls is properly dry to prevent it from stretching.
4. Cleaning Yellow Pearl Jewelry
Over time, pearls can become yellowish. When this happens, you can clean your pearls to restore their color and luster. Bear in mind that acid and alkaline chemicals can cause irreparable damage to pearls. This pearl cleaning process should therefore be undertaken with the utmost care.
Slightly Yellowish Pearls
The yellow color is often limited to the outside layer, which can be removed by using a diluted hydrochloric acid or hydrogen peroxide solution. Dilute 1%-5% of either with purified water and soak the pearls in this solution. Remove the pearls as soon as you see their natural color return, and wash them immediately under running, purified water. Gently dry the pearls using a soft cloth. Mind that you do not soak the pearls in the solution for too long as even this diluted solution will cause irreversible damage.
Severely Discolored Pearls
If the yellowish color is very dark, the surface is black, the luster is completely gone or the pearls are badly damaged, the process of cleaning the pearls is more difficult. You can wash such pearls by immersing them in a 10% concentration of salt water, followed by a 3% concentration of hydrochloric acid and then rinsing them under running, purified water. If your pearls are badly damaged, we recommend that you send your pearls to a jewelry store for cleaning and care.
Pearls are unique gemstones that are as durable as they are sensitive. With the right care, pearls can be valuable jewelry items for generations.
If you would like more information on how to clean your pearls and maintain their luster, get in touch with the team at Timeless Pearl. We would be happy to advise you on the best pearl cleaning procedures for your particular piece.