Cultured freshwater pearls, like seawater (akoya) pearls, are grown within live mollusks that, to protect itself against an implanted irritant, the oyster or other mollusk secretes a crystalline substance called "nacre." Gradually, the nacre layers build up and create the lustrous "skin" of the pearl.
With proper attention and handling, pearls can last for generations. However, because cultured pearls are relatively soft compared to other gemstones and precious metals, it's important to take special care of them to ensure they remain bright and beautifu. Continuously exposed to harmful products -- such as cosmetics, perfumes, hair sprays or abrasive detergents -- pearls' lustre can diminish. For this reason, light cleaning with a soft, damp cloth after each wearing is recommended.
Acids in body oils and perspiration can also damage pearls' lustre in the same way. Put on your pearls after applying makeup, perfume and hair spray, and then wipe their pearls afterward with a soft damp cloth to remove any harmful build-ups. Occasional washing with a mild soap is also recommended.
While most other gemstones have a greater hardness than pearls, it is also recommended that you keep them clean and avoid exposure to chemicals. *Do not* wear your pearl and gemstone jewelry into the shower or swimming pool. Chlorine and other chemicals can change the color of your gems.
Similarly, exposure to high heat can discolor some gemstones. Keep your gems at room temperature.
Proper gem care can ensure that you will enjoy your pearl and gemstone jewelry for many years.
All the best, all the time!
Lauri Gray Eaton
Wholly Grail Gems
Certified Pearl Specialist
Cultured Pearl Association of America