How to Clean Freshwater Pearls – 3 Simple Tips

Pearls have long been worn to signify beauty and grace, and they remain a staple jewelry piece for any important or formal event today. Of course, there is a time and place to wear pearls during the day, but most people consider this semi-precious gemstone to be special, donning the piece with some of their best clothing. If you plan to break out your pearls during the next important event, you’ll need to make sure that you’re properly caring for and cleaning your freshwater pearls. To keep pearls in the best condition, follow these guidelines on cleaning, handling and maintaining this beautiful piece of jewelry.

How Are Freshwater Pearls Created?

To understand why freshwater pearls need to be maintained properly, it’s important to learn a bit about the creation process. Although freshwater pearls are considered a semi-precious gemstone, they are not actually made of stone. Most people are aware that pearls are created naturally inside oysters or mussels, but because of the high demand for pearls, it is very rare to find a pearl that was formed without being farmed. In order to create pearls, these farms need to initiate a specific reaction in the mollusk to begin the formation. This means that farmed freshwater pearls are still formed organically by the mussel but help from the farmer is necessary to kickstart the creation.

Freshwater pearls are created by mussels that live in freshwater. Farmers will insert a small amount of tissue into the live mussel. Some people prefer to use a very small bead or some other small object. This foreign material inside the mollusk causes irritation because it isn’t supposed to be inside the shell, so the mussel has a built-in defense mechanism to reduce the irritation. It begins to secrete nacre, which is the same material that builds the shell, and this substance continues to build up around the object until a freshwater pearl is formed. There are tactics practiced by farmers that can alter the freshwater pearls’ shapes and colors, making these beautiful beads even more unique.

pearl inside of oyster

Freshwater Pearls vs. Saltwater Pearls

Though cultured saltwater pearls have dominated the market for a long time, freshwater pearls are becoming increasingly popular as people are attracted to their unusual shape and one-of-a-kind appearance. The most obvious difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls is that they are cultivated in different environments. Freshwater pearls are grown inside mussels living in freshwater, while saltwater pearls develop inside oysters from the ocean. The process of cultivating the pearl is slightly different but essentially the same defense reaction is triggered to cover an object with nacre.

However, the most noticeable difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls is their shape and overall appearance. Cultured saltwater pearls are more smooth and round, creating a nearly perfect ball shape. Freshwater pearls, on the other hand, have a more unique appearance as each bead is shaped slightly differently with a bit of a puckered look. Some people used to refer to freshwater pearls from China and Japan as “Rice Krispie” pearls due to the appearance. Now, farmers have more control over the freshwater pearl shapes, creating hearts, circular shapes and even baroque pearls.

Storing and Maintaining Freshwater Pearls

Caring for your freshwater pearls is particularly important because they are so delicate. The nacre is a natural substance, meaning it is susceptible to losing its shine over time if not maintained properly. You should always try to put your pearls on after you have done your makeup and spritzed your perfume as it will reduce the number of foreign objects coming in contact with the pearls. Freshwater pearls are very vulnerable to scratches, so be sure to always store your pearls in a soft jewelry pack or cloth and do not let them come in contact with other jewelry.

cleaning jewelry with cloth

Cleaning Freshwater Pearls

The best method for cleaning your freshwater pearls is pretty simple. Get yourself a soft jewelry cleaning cloth and wipe the pearls down after every single use. This will help maintain their luster and avoid dirt build-up. If you notice that they look particularly dirty, try using a damp cloth and leaving them out to dry before storing them back in their proper place.

Purchasing High-Quality Freshwater Pearls from The Bead Traders

Owning a pair of freshwater pearls is very valuable. You can don them at your next big event and keep them in the family for years to come as an heirloom. But, there are so many options when it comes to selecting freshwater pearls now. Browse all of our available freshwater pearl shapes and our collection of baroque pearls to find the perfect jewelry to suit your tastes.

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