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Caring for Fine Pearl Jewelry

Arpaia Lang 18" Graduated Akoya Pearl Strand with 14kt White Gold Flower Clasp

Treasured Heirlooms

In many parts of the world, it is tradition to hand down cultured pearl jewelry from generation to generation. While pearls are not the most durable of gems, they can retain their natural beauty over several lifetimes with proper care.

Pearls Are Soft & Require Protection

Pearl attributes directly relate to the chemical composition and atomic structure of natural and cultured pearls.  As organic gems, all pearls are part water. 


Pearls are very soft - they can abrade and scratch easily.

Pearls have only poor to good toughness - they can chip or break if handled roughly or by mishap. 

Pearls are extremely sensitive to many chemicals and to all acids (including perspiration). Contact with such substances (sometimes just briefly) can destroy a pearl's beauty and actual physical structure.

Pearls can dehydrate from heat or intense light, leading to discoloration and cracks.

Helpful Guidelines

To help retain the original beauty of pearls:

1. Keep pearls away from other jewelry - pearls should not come into contact with metal or harder gems (most other gems are harder than pearls). Store pearls in a cloth pouch or keep wrapped in a soft cloth. Position the clasp so it does not touch the pearls.

2. Be mindful when putting on and removing pearl jewelry. Pearls do not shatter easily, but they can break or chip if dropped on a hard floor or banged against a hard surface.

3. Keep pearls away from heat sources, intense light, and excessive dryness (for example, do not store pearls in a plastic bag).

4. Pearls can be worn everyday, but do not wear during vigorous activity or expose to chemicals (such as while cleaning or swimming in a chlorinated pool). To protect surface luster and pearl nacre, put on pearl jewelry only after applying haircare products, lotions, oils, cosmetics, and perfumes, etc. It is best to keep all hair and body products away from areas that will be in contact with pearl jewelry.

5. After each wearing, wipe pearls with a soft, clean, slightly damp cloth to remove harmful substances and retain moisture.

6. From time to time, thoroughly clean pearl jewelry with warm, mild soapy water. Rinse well and lay flat on clean towel until completely dry (wet string can stretch and attract dirt). Never clean pearls with steam or in an ultrasonic cleaner. Never use detergents, chemicals, or commercial jewelry cleaners unless expressly stated as safe for pearl jewelry.

7. Pearl strands should be professionally restrung, depending on wear. Pearl strands that are worn frequently should be restrung every year. Any strand should be restrung if the string shows any sign of wear (several knots do not hug tight against pearls, string is frayed in any part, string feels slack or looks stretched, or string looks dirty or has discolored). Since natural silk thread can dry out over time, even rarely worn and stored pearl strands should be restrung every few years to help guard against accidental breakage and to always look their best so ready for wear.

8. Consider insuring valuable pearl strands against loss or damage.