Taking Care of Cultured Pearls
Cultured pearls are very soft and need special care. They never should be tossed on top of or next to other gems in a jewelry storage box. Pearls should stored in a jewelry pouch.
Some women’s skin is more acidic than others. If a pearl necklace is regularly worn, as it should be, some of the pearls will constantly be in close contact with the women’s skin on her neck at the shoulder line. Pearl pendants do not always have such constant contact with women’s skin. The pearls in the necklace will gradually absorb acid from the skin and the acid will slowly eat into the spherical pearl. Over time, the pearl will not only lose its luster but will become barrel-shaped. You can slow this process by wiping the pearls with a soft cloth after wearing them.
Besides being soft, cultured pearls are easily damaged by chemicals like perfume, vinegar, and lemon juice. Heat can turn pearls brown, or dry them out and make them crack. Dry air can also damage pearls. Most safe deposit vaults have very dry air and can damage pearls.
When taking off a pearl ring, grasp the shank, or metal part, rather than the pearl. This will prevent the pearl from loosening and coming into contact with skin oils on your hand.
Because of their delicate nature, special care must be taken when cleaning.
Never use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner.
Never steam-clean or use a steamer to clean cultured pearls.
Never use, or expose, cultured pearls to dish or washing detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda, or ammonia-based cleaners, like Windex.
Never use toothbrushes, scouring pads or abrasive materials to clean pearls.
Do not wear pearls when the string is wet. Wet strings stretch and attract dirt, which is hard to remove.
Do not hang cultured pearls to dry.
Take your pearls off when applying cosmetics, hair spray, and perfume, or when showering or swimming.
Avoid wearing pearls with rough fabrics like Shetland wool.
Have your cultured pearls restrung once a year if you wear them often.
Cleaning Cultured Pearls
The Best way to clean pearls is to soak them in warm water and a mild detergent such as ivory soap. The best way to distinguish between a natural or cultured pearl and an imitation pearl without sending them to a GIA LAb for X-Ray is to use the “tooth test”. Rub a pearl on the edge of your teeth. If it feels smooth, the pearl is probably imitation. If the pearls feel rough or gritty, it is probably natural or cultured.
Keep hairspray, cosmetics, and etc. away from pearls. A good rule is to put your pearls on last and take them off first. Whenever you wear your necklace, check to see if the silk the pearls are strung on is stretching and if the knots between the pearls are becoming dirty. If either if these things happens, it’s time to restring your pearls necklace.
Your cultured pearls are generally strung and knotted using silk thread. Be sure to regularly inspect this silk thread for stretching, fraying or discoloration. If any of these occur bring your pearl necklace to your jeweler for restringing.
After you wear pearls, just wipe them off with a soft cloth or chamois, which may be dry or damp. This will prevent dirt from accumulating and keep perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the pearl nacre. You can even use a drop of olive oil on the cloth to help maintain their luster.
If cultured pearls have not been kept clean and are very dirty, they can be cleaned by your jewelers or they can be cleaned using special pearl cleaner. The Jewelry Hut sells pearl safe jewelry cleaner.
Blitz Delicate Gem and Pearl Jewelry Cleaner
Be careful using other types of jewelry cleaner or soap. Some liquid soaps, such as Dawn, can be harmful to pearls. Pay attention to the areas around drill holes where dirt may tend to collect.
After washing your cultured pearls, lay them flat in a moist kitchen towel to dry. When the towel is dry, your pearls should be dry. About every six months have a jewelry professional verify that the pearls on your jewelry are securely mounted or that the string is still good. Many jewelers will do this free of charge, and they will be happy to answer questions about the care of your jewelry.