The Basics of Jewellery Cleaning

Caring for Pearl and Opal Jewellery

Pearls are one of the few gems that benefit from wear and touch. The oils from your skin help pearls keep their lustrous appearance. Even if you do not wear your pearls often you should hold them on a regular basis to transfer the unseen oil from your skin to onto them. If their oils dry out, pearls begin to crack and will break.

You must take the utmost care when cleaning jewellery with pearls in it. They cannot be exposed to many chemicals or heat. Chemical solutions will eat away at the lustrous finish and can eat through the layers of nacre that a pearl is made up of. A gentle plain cloth is the best way to polish pieces with pearls. This means they require regular care to minimize tarnish and ensure surface oils are present.

Opals are considered an unstable gemstone but are valued for the vibrant colours that are produced inside of them. The colours are a result of water held within the stone. Opals should never be exposed to extreme temperature changes or chemicals. When the water inside the opal dries out, the stone cracks and loses its fire. Chemicals use for cleaning, which would not affect harder stones, can leach into opals and change their colours.

’20 Tips on maintaining our Jewellery’, Gillian E. Batcher, 2013

Sterling silver and pearl earrings by Kristen Vittorini

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