Pearls, Your Jewelry Divas and How to Store Them


Pearls are the movie stars of your jewelry box. Pearls are often referred to as the “Queen of Gems,” in the jewelry industry, both for their beauty, and for their delicate nature.

If you want your pearl jewelry to stay beautiful, then treat your pearls like a diva movie star. Find a spot to store them where they can live alone, untouched by rival jewelry.

Use only the softest cloth and specially formulated jewelry cleaner for their spa beauty treatments; cleaning. Finally, wear them and cherish them like the unique treasures they are, and they’ll always make you look like a million bucks.

I see many real movie stars at charitable events and sometimes just walking down the street. And I see many beautiful pearls.

I have a passion for pearls, and this care of pearls post is my little love letter to glorious pearls the world over.

"I Vant to be Alone"

Just like a movie star, your pearls don’t like to mix with other jewelry, they want to be the star.

The first thing you need to know about pearls – and you probably already know this – is that they come from oysters.  A pearl’s surface is made up of layers of nacre, a substance similar to the enamel covering your teeth.  Just like that enamel, nacre can be marred by exposure to acidic material like vinegar, harsh soaps, coffee, and even the oils on your skin.

Keep pearls from coming in contact with gemstones, metal, and practically any other material you can think of.  Pearls scratch easily.

Basically, the less contact your pearls have with anything except your skin, the better.

Put Your Pearls on After Your Make-Up

Perfume, hairspray, and cosmetics can also harm pearls. Always put on your pearls after you’ve applied perfume, hairspray, and cosmetics. This simple tip will add years to the beauty of your pearls. This doesn't mean you shouldn't wear make-up and perfume, I mean your pearls are diva's, you've got to look good so they get a little attention!

How Should I Store My Pearls? Good Question!

Store your pearl treasures separately in boxes, or pouches or rolled up in soft material. Pearls can easily pick up oils over time.

Gently remove these oils by rolling them on a soft leather chamois cloth. The soft cloth draws off dirt and oils from the surface of the pearls, and is gentle enough not to scratch them.

Where do you find one of these cloths? Is your man a major car guy? You can probably pinch one from the garage in pristine condition. He'll have about seven of them that he uses to buff the mustang.

"I Don't Vant Heat"

Baroque Fresh Water Pearls Necklace

Baroque Fresh Water Pearls Necklace

Don't store or leave your pearls in a hot area, like near a sunny window or in a jewelry box that has the afternoon sun beating down on it. You also shouldn't let your pearls become too dry.

This can lead to a cracking of the nacre in the worst case scenario. And besides, they're divas, even if it didn't hurt them they'd object on principle.

"I Don't Vant To Be in Your Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Either"

Ultrasonic cleaners can pit aluminum foil. This is great for cleaning gemstones like diamonds and sapphires, but bad news for softer gemstones like pearls, coral, ivory or gentle gemstones like opal.  Pearls are porous and are badly affected by ammonia, cleansers or abrasives. Only specially formulated pearl cleaners or the mildest soap, very diluted in warm water are suitable for cleaning pearls.

Place your pearls on a soft cloth and gently roll them on the cloth in the water until they are clean. Rinse and dry them in an area where the silk pearl string will fully dry. If the silk string does not fully dry, it could get mildewy, which could lead to breakage and lost pearls, and you don’t want that. Your diva pearls obviously want to be hand cleaned, gently dried, and laid out flat when they are stored.

More On Cleaning Pearls

Blue Topaz, Diamonds and Pearls Necklace

Diva Pearl Necklace in Her Box

I received some great advice from Antoinette Matlins PG and author of, “The Pearl Book,”   Antoinette says, “For gummy or caked-on dirt, wipe the pearl, or soak it briefly in clear fingernail polish remover (the old-fashioned type that is acetone).

Unlike ammonia and vinegar, acetone will not hurt pearls.” Thanks Antoinette, for a very helpful hint!  For older pearls that have been stored for long periods of time, or have accumulated a lot of dirt, this hint is a lifesaver.

What's the Takeaway Message Here?

Pearls are gorgeous and they make us look great, so store them like they are the most precious thing you own.

Keep them cool and stored separate from your other jewelry items. And remember, a beautiful set of pearls can easily be dressed up or down.  Wear them out for fun or parties!  Just because they like to be stored alone doesn’t mean they don’t like to be social.

Your Personal Pearl Loving Jeweler,

Want to learn more about pearls?  Check out these blog posts

Choosing Pearls: Five Things You Need to Consider

French Wire Finish for Your Pearls; It’s Stronger and Prettier

Top Ten Reasons To Restring Your Pearls

The Pitfalls of Pearl Restringing – What Might Happen After Restringing

Why Pearl Ring Sizing Costs More

Pearls Must Be Knotted! Or Pearl Restringing with Knots

Ten Ways to Casual-ify Your Pearl or Bead Necklace

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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11 years ago

French wire for pearl necklaces, is there a way to purchase the french wires? I am about to begin restringing my daughter’s pink pearls.

You have some beautiful pieces of jewellery.

Lori C
Lori C
11 years ago

After our discussion about the extremely poor advice to “wash your pearls each time you wear them” that I overheard at a local jeweler, I’ve been thinking about pearls. I sure do love them!
(I previously shared this comment on your “Choosing Pearls…” blog post, but it seemed that since you address care and cleaning in this post that I’d put this here as well for your readers. And you can put in the fantastic comment answer from Antoinette Matlins.)

Linda Edgar
9 years ago

Can we make my pearls contemporary, Calla?

Paulette Prescher
Paulette Prescher
6 years ago

I store my pearks in small a
silk bags. Would it be ok to store the bags in a plastic box with a lid that seals

Millie Hue
Millie Hue
5 years ago

Thanks for helping me understand that pearls must not be stored in hot areas since it can beat it down. I will keep that in mind now that I plan to buy one for myself. I wanted to buy a pearl necklace as a reward for myself after working too hard and helping my sister finish her college. This will ensure that the necklace will last for a long time.

Shayla Cademis
Shayla Cademis
5 years ago

Thanks for your tip about not leaving or storing pearls in sunny/hot areas because of the danger of them drying out. I personally love pearls and have several sets of pearl earrings and necklaces, but my jewelry box is currently being stored on my dresser below a window. I will have to find another place to keep them so they can stay beautiful for as long as possible!