Beading Resources > Ask the Experts

Topics: Pearls, Cleaning

When a natural pearl starts to discolor, does that mean it is "sick"?
- Kimberly
No, discoloration does not mean the pearl is sick. Both freshwater and saltwater pearls will start to discolor for a variety of reasons. Pearls will naturally change from white to ivory in color over time, but diligent care and proper storage can prolong the process for generations. Exposure to chemicals including hairspray, perfumes and lotions can cause soiling; if not cleaned they will discolor. Pearls are porous and need natural moisture to retain their luster. Pearls like to be worn and the natural oil from your skin is beneficial. If pearls are not worn regularly and are stored in an airtight container they can be robbed of moisture from the air causing a more rapid discoloration. Clean your pearls after use and store them in a porous container such as a silk bag. Always store your pearls flat to keep the thread from stretching.

- Michelle Wood, Jewelry-Making Expert


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