How to Care for Pearl Jewelry from Your Wedding

Whether brand new or a family heirloom, you'll want to make sure it lasts.

There’s nothing quite like a string of pearls to complete a classic bridal look. Now here's how to take care of them.

Photo: Laurie Bailey Photography

There’s nothing quite like a string of pearls to complete a classic bridal look. Pearls, whether featured in a necklace or another accessory like a bracelet or earrings, are a common type of heirloom to be passed down through generations. They also happen to be very delicate, as they are much softer than gemstones, and thus aren’t particularly suitable for daily wear.

If you know that your mother or grandmother is planning to gift you with pearls for your wedding day, you may be concerned about how to treat the jewelry so that it stays in the same excellent condition that you received it in. Or if you’re buying yourself (or receiving as a gift) brand new pearls for your wedding, you likely want to make sure they will be in good enough shape for you to pass down. 

Here is what you must remember to protect your pearls:

- Put them on right before you leave, and take them off as soon as you get home.
- Wipe them down with a damp soft cloth (i.e. microfiber) when you remove them. The pH balance of your skin and perspiration can damage the pearls.
- Do not use any sort of abrasive sponge or toothbrush to clean your pearls.
- Fasten the clips and store separately from other jewelry, in a soft cloth bag or lined box, to prevent scratches. Plastic can emit a chemical that will damage the pearls.
- Do not wear or hang your pearls when they are wet, as the string can stretch out.
- If you are storing them in a vault or safety deposit box for a long period of time (which should be avoided if possible), keep a glass of water with the pearls. Dry conditions are damaging, and the water helps to humidify the air.
- Have pearls restrung every year if you wear them often. Otherwise, keep an eye out for fraying thread to know when they should be restrung.
- Avoid chemicals, including strong cleaners, dish detergent, hairspray, and perfume.  
- Do not wear pearls with wool or other rough materials.

For more tips on preserving the condition of your wedding jewelry, learn how to take care of and when not to wear your engagement ring.