How to prolong the life of your pearls

Buying beautiful pearl jewellery is all well and good, but it isn’t just about wearing the pearls, you need to inform your customers how to care of them to maintain their beauty and prolong their life.

Follow these everyday handy tips to keep your pearls (and your customers) looking their best.


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I know there are so many high tech cleaning gadgets that exist on the market right now for cleaning, but you will be pleased to know that it’s back to basics for cleaning your pearls.

  • So what do you need in your cleaning kit? Well not much actually, nothing too drastic and it also depends on the condition of your pearls. It is best to use a mild detergent and warm soapy water. When cleaning them rub them gently and make sure not to get the silk/thread wet. Then lay them on a flat, soft towel to dry. Don’t forget to buff them with a sumptuous, soft cloth to enhance the lustre. Do not use anything abrasive to clean them.   Furthermore, avoid pulling on them as this will stretch the thread.
  • Pearls have a horrible dislike to chlorine, sun, perfumes, acids, sweat, strong detergents and hairspray and will eventually all play havoc with your pearls. They can potentially damage the nacre and cause the pearls to flake.  

  • Try not to get pearls wet; so don’t sunbathe, go swimming or exercise with them on.   Although the pearls love water, the glue and silk are not fond of water.
  • If you don’t have time to give your pearls a clean before and after each wear, treat them to a weekly clean. We clean our shoes as part of our grooming process so don’t forget to clean your pearls.
  • For you the jeweller, it is imperative that you keep your pearls in pristine condition. The lights of your display cabinet will attract dust and dirt so also give them a weekly clean. We do not recommend using an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. The hardness of a pearl (and all other gems and minerals) is measured on the Mohs scale. Pearls measure 2.5 on the Mohs scale, which means that they are a soft gem and can be easily scratched.  Scratches may not be visible with the naked eye, but they accumulate and will be visible over time.


  • After cleaning your pearls, lay them flat and away from direct sunlight. Importantly store them in a soft storage bag or box.   
  • Try to avoid anything coming into contact with them as this may damage the nacre.   
  • The same goes for storing pearls in your shop and avoid displaying them in your window in direct sunlight as this may affect the dye in coloured pearls. Keep them somewhere also that isn’t too warm or dry. If they dry out, they become flaky and lose their lustre.
  • Be careful when handling them, they are very sensitive and even the slightest knock will damage the nacre. Don’t play, twist or stretch them as this will weaken the thread and breakages may occur.


  • We recommend restringing your pearls every year to prolong their life. Normally an average pearl necklace will reduce in length up to two inches after restringing.   
  • Where possible restring on silk as using synthetic string can cause static which attracts the dirt more easily.
  • We often get asked why it is important to knot between each pearl. Janie’s Stringing, pearl stringing specialist with over 20 years’ experience tells why;

“Pearls are very delicate gems and knotting prevents them rubbing together and damaging the surface. If the string should break, only a single pearl will fall. Without knots, a large number of pearls risks being lost if there is a breakage. Furthermore, knotting gives your necklace a lovely flexibility so that it moves with the neck and collarbone.”

Bear in mind, Janie adds, not all pearl necklaces and bracelets look best this way — it depends on the shape and size of the pearls.

Finally, go the extra mile for your customers, encourage them to look after their pearls and offer a free soft cleaning cloth with every sale or restring. They will remember this and hopefully keep coming back to you.

[box type=”info” align=”alignleft” class=”” width=””]Image provided by Heidi Kjeldsen Ltd[/box]

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