September 1, 2014

Properly Cleaning Akoya Pearls

Also known as Japanese pearls, akoya pearls are a cultivated saltwater pearl from the akoya-gai oyster. These pearls are often considered one of the most popular traditional pearls and for good reason. These stunning pearls are a classic that look great when paired with everything from an elegant gown to jeans and a t-shirt. In order to keep your akoya pearls – such as those found at looking their best, you must properly care for the piece of jewelry.

Overtime, pearls will become dirty and dingy from normal wear. And while cleaning pearls is a rather easy task, you must make sure you care for them properly by using the proper cleaning tools and technique.

Pearls are rather fragile and improper cleaning methods or cleaning products can actually ruin the pearls. You should never clean the pearls with steam or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Furthermore, never use abrasive sponges, scouring pads or toothbrushes to clean akoya pearls.

There are certain household cleaners that you should never use on akoya pearls as they can severely damage the pearls. These cleaners include (but are not limited to):

• Rubbing alcohol
• Ammonia
• Bleach
• Window Cleaners
• Laundry or dish detergents
• All-purpose cleaners
• Baking soda
• Abrasive cleaning powders
• Vinegar or acetic acid

You must remember that perspiration is slightly acidic and can disintegrate the pearls. That is why it is important to always whip the pearls off with a clean, chamois cloth after wearing. Never use any type of abrasive cleaners or fabrics on the pearls. You can help restore its luster by adding a drop of olive oil to a soft cloth and gently buffing the pearls. Make sure to clean around the drill holes on the pearls where dust, dirt and other debris collect easily. When cleaning pearls with commercial cleaners, only use products that are labeled for use on pearls. Just because the cleaning product is safe to use on other types of jewelry doesn’t mean it will not harm your pearls. Once the pearls are cleaned, never hang dry the jewelry since this can cause the strand to stretch. Also, never dry them with a hair dryer. Instead, dry them by laying the jewelry flat on a clean, soft towel to air dry.

If your pearls are extremely dirty and a do-it-yourself job will not suffice, you should take them to a trusted jeweler to have them professionally cleaned.

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