Your guide to cleaning & restringing pearls.

We cover how to clean your pearls, and when it’s time for pearls to be restrung.

While diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, I think Jackie Kennedy was spot on in saying “pearls are always appropriate.” For many customers, pearls hold a special place in their heart. Whether it’s a family heirloom passed down from mother to daughter, or someone who just prefers the appearance of pearls, many people routinely wear pearls as part of their every day, or special occasion jewelry.

But what happens over time? What happens when a pearl loses it’s luster, or a pearl necklace starts to age? Is there anything that can be done to keep pearls looking pristine?

The answer is it depends, and here’s why. Yes, you can keep the pearls looking pristine for years by caring for them properly, which we cover in this blog below. However, you cannot rejuvenate an aged pearl once it’s lost its luster. Once this happens, there’s only so much you can do to the pearl, but there is no way to restore it to its initial shine.

How to clean pearls.

In order to properly clean pearls, you first need to understand more about them.

Completely different from a diamond (which is a solid), pearls actually have a skin, which is called “nacre” (pronounced nacker). Just like a human, this ‘skin’ is a thin outer layer of the pearl. And just like a person, the ‘skin’ is delicate and fragile.

Additionally, the skin of the pearl is sensitive to chemicals such as hairspray or perfume. In fact, just like any other piece of jewelry, we always recommend to put it on last, after using products such as perfume or hairspray. These, in addition to other chemicals, can harm the pearl itself and wear away the nacre. Obviously, you don’t want that.

We cover the topic of cleaning jewelry in depth in our article Your Guide to Jewelry Cleaning which provides some great tips and advice on keeping jewelry nice and shiny. Whether it’s pearls, diamonds, or costume jewelry, we will show you how to keep jewelry looking clean and new.

When it comes to cleaning a pearl, you can use a very mild detergent or a delicate jewelry cleaner to do the trick. Once washed, you can simply let them dry in a pile on a clean towel. It’s better to let them dry on a towel as opposed to hanging them, because if you hang or stretch out a string of pearls, it can weaken the strand.

If your pearls are set in gold or silver, the entire piece can be cleaned using the proper jewelry cleaner for that type of metal. However, pearls should never sit in any cleaning solution for an extended amount of time.

When in doubt, consult an expert. You don’t want to use the wrong cleaner on pearls and end up damaging them. Conversely, if your pearls are past the point of cleaning them yourself, visit your jeweler and have them give you a hand.

When do pearls need to be restrung?

Just like everything else in life, time can cause wear and tear on pearls, especially when they’re strung on a necklace or bracelet.

Pearls need to be restrung when there is space and movement between each pearl, or if you see the cord frayed in between each of the pearls. That’s an indication that the cord is weakening and time to take your pearls in for repair.

Your best bet is to stop wearing the item and bring it to a jeweler for a repair right away. You don’t want to be left wondering why did my jewelry break, especially when a little bit of preventative maintenance and TLC can go a long way.

Final thoughts on pearl jewelry.

There’s nothing else quite like pearls in the world. They’re a beautiful, yet delicate addition to any jewelry box regardless of taste or style. To learn more about cleaning and repairing pearl jewelry, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to talk to any of our expert jewelers.

If you’d like to talk to someone sooner about advice on your pearl jewelry, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us directly at or simply filling out our contact form and we’ll answer your questions quickly.