How to clean and store pearl jewelry

Whether pearls are natural or cultured, salt or fresh water grown, the surface is made of a soft organic mineral that should be properly cared for.

The lustrous surface of a pearl is formed of aragonite, a soft organic mineral consisting of calcium carbonate.

Because pearls are made of a soft organic material, the surface of a pearl may be easily scratched or damaged by abrasive contact with harder materials such as metals or ceramics. Damage can also occur from prolonged contact with acidic, or strongly alkaline compounds such as hair spray, perfumes, perspiration, vinegar, citrus juices and ammonia-bearing products.

The good news is that maintaining and preserving your ‘investment’ requires only a few easy steps!

Our top tips on how to store your pearls:

  1. Store your pearly jewelry in pouches or necklace rolls made of chamois, velvet, flannel etc.
  2. Pearl necklaces should be stored individually. Earrings, rings, and bracelets with pearls should have their own containers.  This will protect your pearl jewelry from “grinding” against other pearl items.
  3. Do not place anything of significant weight on top of your pearl jewelry.
  4. Clean your pearls before storing.

In the course of wear, any jewelry will become soiled.  But don’t store pearl jewelry “dirty.” Think: If you ‘sweated out’ the dress you wore at an August outdoor wedding in South Texas, your dress would be at the cleaner in within the next few days.  The pearl jewelry you wore should have similar attention!

Cleaning your pearl jewelry

Never, never, never use ammonia-based solutions, hard alkaline soaps or abrasives. Forget any tales you’ve heard, toothpaste should NEVER be used for cleaning ANY jewelry!!

If you don’t want to clean your pearls yourself, bring them to Quenton Elliott Jewelers.  If you like to do things yourself, please don’t waste money on commercially branded “pearl cleaners.” Here’s the easy solution to do it yourself…

How to clean your pearl jewelry:

  1. Mix a mild solution of water with dish soap (“Dawn” works best – it is what we use in our shop).
  2. Soak jewelry items in a ‘salad-type’ bowl for a few minutes to loosen the soil.
  3. Any stubborn soil can be removed by gently brushing the pearls with a soft-bristle toothbrush.
  4. Rinse the jewelry under cool tap water.
  5. Press dry between folds of an amply soft terry cloth bath towel.
  6. Allow to dry for approximately 24 hours before wearing or storing.

If you have questions or want to have your pearl jewelry professionally cleaned, contact Quenton Elliott Jewelers at (713) 528-1641 or


Top pearl jewelry choices available in our store: