To ensure that your lovely pearls stay looking lovely you need to look after them!
A pearls worst enemy is sweat, perfume, alcohol and all other acids, chemicals and dirt!
A simple rule to live by is: make sure that your pearls are the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off. Make sure that you have finished with your hairspray, perfume and cosmetics before you go near your pearls and remove them when you are done. Showering and sleeping in your pearls is not a good idea. Ever.
Be aware that pearl bracelets and rings will get battered. I know that wearing pearls makes you feel like a delicate lady who is graceful and poised but if you are anything like me then you are probably the exact opposite! I am heavy handed; I catch my rings on every doorframe and scratch my bracelets on my desk when I am typing. This is not a happy environment for pearls! My advice is that nice pearl rings and bracelets should be for special occasions – save them for night out, fancy meals, job interviews and impressing the future mother-in-law. If you can’t be without pearls (I feel your pain) then invest in a cheaper set of freshwater pearls to wear on a daily basis and leave your heirlooms to steal the show. This doesn’t apply so much to necklaces and earrings as they are more protected and out of clumsy’s way.
When you have worn your pearls, just give them a wipe with a soft dry cloth. Even if you follow the rules above, they still get tainted with body oils and perspiration. Removing this before you put them away will preserve their lustre. On the same note – if you get anything on your pearls (dribble your drink, baby sick, perfume, hand sanitizer and soap etc) wipe them immediately. Acid and chemicals = bad!
If you care for your pearls daily then you shouldn’t need to clean them other than a quick wipe.
Only if wiping them with a dry cloth doesn’t remove the dirt should you then resort to a deeper clean.
DO NOT submerge your pearls in water or any liquid. This will ruin the silk or thread and can rot the pearl from the inside.
DO NOT clean your pearls in silver or jewellery dip or an ultrasonic machine. These are all too harsh.
Simply apply a mild baby shampoo to a soft cloth or very soft manicure brush and gently clean the pearls. Make sure that you support the pearls as you go and do not stretch the thread as you clean. Try to avoid getting the thread wet.
Rinse carefully with mineral or boiled (and cooled) water so as not to expose the pearls to the chemicals in tap water.
Very gently dry and polish the pearls with a dry soft cloth.
You need to look after your pearls even when they are not on your neck.
Pearls are very easily scratched and should never be stored with other items of jewellery, especially diamonds.
Fasten any clasps before storing your pearls. These sharp metal objects could rub up against the pearl and cause scratches. Unclasped strands may also become tangled.
Even the clasps on your pearls can scratch so try to store each pearl item separately from each other; silk or velvet bags work well for this but never use a plastic bag. These can emit chemicals over time and damage your pearls.
Store your pearls flat to avoid excess stretching and wear.
DO NOT keep your pearls in a safe or sealed box. Overly dry conditions will dehydrate you pearls, causing them to develop small surface fractures. Keep a glass of water inside a vault or safe if you must store your pearls there. This will help humidify the air, slowing down the dehydration process.
Store your pearls out of direct sunlight. Over exposure can turn give pearls a yellow tint over time.
Pearl jewellery will weaken over time. Fact.
The proper care and cleaning will help but eventually your pearls will need a new lease of life.
Regularly examine strands of pearls for loosening strings, fraying edges, loose clasps and damage. Any signs of weakness get them repaired pronto. It is better to get them repaired when you notice it rather that when they break and you have had to crawl under the table in the cocktail bar to collect the stray beads.
As a general rule your pearls should be restrung every one or two years, especially if you wear them often. Even if you do not notice visible signs of wear on the strand, the string will likely start to weaken by then.