How to Care for Pearls – 8 Top Tips

For the last 10 years or so I’ve been talking to ladies’ groups with my talk “Pearls and Princesses”. It goes down extremely well with ladies groups of a “certain” age. They often use it as an excuse to get their pearls out of their jewellery boxes and give them an airing.

But for a certain generation, most pearl necklaces are viewed as old fashioned. They are often handed down to people, who put them away and forget about them. When they are eventually taken out to be worn, they can often be disappointing. Ther are for several reasons for this.

Pearls are very fashionable at the moment, (a trend that started with Downton Abbey and which doesn’t look like it’s ending any time soon), so it’s time to let the cat out of the bag.

While I’ve been writing newsletters and training new students in colour analysis, bridal styling and personal shopping I’ve been studying too. As well as being a certified Wedding Planner, an Organic Skincare specialist – I’m also a Certified Pearl Specialist.

My Top 8 Tips:

So here is what you need to know ~ how to care for pearls, whether they are heirlooms or new pieces.

  1. They don’t like being shut away in safes, boxes or drawers – they thrive best in a more humid atmosphere (although not wet).
  2. After wearing they should be gently wiped to remove any perspiration or moisture. Ideally return them their original box – particularly if that box has an inlay which stops the strands of pearls rubbing on each other.
  3. Please don’t ‘knot’ your necklace. Pearls are fragile and can be easily scratched. So, please don’t jumble them into a trinket box with diamond and/or gold jewellery. Both gold and diamonds are much harder than pearls and can scratch the surface quite easily. The scratches cause delamination – and once that starts there’s no going back…
  4. Damage can also be caused by perfume and hairspray – so put your pearls on last thing before “going out” and take them off first, when returning home.
  5. Because cultured pearls are a natural gem – they are also porous, which means that they will take on strong smells – nicotine used to be the main culprit, but just as easily, fatty smells can get into pearl jewellery and once “in” they don’t come out again. So don’t use a chip pan wearing your pearls!
  6. If you wear your pearls regularly, they will need re-stringing every 2 years. You can tell if they need doing by looking carefully at the item – if the spacing between pearls has become irregular it means that the silk thread has stretched, in time this will break. If the pearls move along the thread – this too is a sign that they need re-stringing as is the appearance of threads around the hole in the pearls.
  7. Pearls that have knots between them should be re-strung with knots. It can be tempting to go the cheaper -un-knotted route – but knotting really affects the length of the piece. Restringing without knots can make a necklace or bracelet very short and sometimes makes it unwearable. While knots don’t necessarily mean the item is valuable, it can be am indication that they are not imitation.
  8. Pearls do get dirty – but you need a specialist product to clean them. Chemicals harm the surface nacre. So, whatever you do, don’t be tempted to dip them in soapy water. The silk will get wet and you’ll never get it fully dried out – which will cause the silk to rot.

…and finally, now is not the time to be storing your pearl jewellery for posterity. It’s right on trend and in the articles in “Further Reading” below you get some fresh ideas on how to style them.

Original Article by Helen Kendall-Tobias Training with Imagination and Colourflair August 2023

Pearl Re-Stringing Service:

Need your pearls re-stringing? NB UK service ONLY

Download my info sheet here with details of pricing and what to do next

Like to know more about which colours suit people: Training in Colour Analysis

Further Reading

The Independent: Pearl necklaces are back for 2023, here’s how to shop and style them

Vogue: Bangles Are Back! Pearls Are Sticking Around! These and More Spring Jewelry Trends to Know

Marie Claire: The Pearl Trend Is Back for 2023—Here’s How to Wear Yours

and not forgetting the men

Esquire: The Pearl Necklace Has Gone Mainstream. Just Ask the Love Island Guys.