Perhaps you’ve heard that pearls can turn yellow, and you may have even seen yourself what time can do to these gems. Does that mean that the white pearls you buy will lose their color and luster gradually, and if yes, is there anything you can do about it?
Is It Normal for Pearls to Turn Yellow?
It is normal for pearls to turn yellow with time. This effect is a result of natural processes changing the composition of the organic substance that makes up your pearls.
It should also be mentioned that this yellowing doesn’t indicate that the pearls are fake as artificial pearls don’t usually change their color.
Avoid Confusion: There Are Naturally Yellow Pearls
It is important to note that a white pearl turned yellow and a naturally yellow pearl are two different things.
Naturally yellow pearls have gotten their color as a result of how they have been cultivated.
When they are sold, these pearls are advertised as yellow pearls or golden pearls (click here to see a selection of golden pearls) and their color is shiny, not dull like the surface of yellowed pearls.
Why Pearls Turn Yellow
The chief reason that pearls turn yellow over time is that they become dry.
If there is no air circulation and moisture where pearls are kept, their organic composition begins to change. As they dry out with time, such pearls lose their color and become yellowish.
And the reason pearls dry out is usually the way people store them – they often pack their pearls in sealed plastic bags, put them in places where the air is hot and dry, and don’t wear them often.
Can You Reverse the Process?
Whether you would be able to whiten pearls that have become yellow depends on how long this process has been going on. If a lot of time has passed, there may not be a way to undo the damage.
That’s why you should not allow your pearls to dry out in the first place, and you should not keep them in airtight containers and places where there is no air circulation.
Is This Really a Problem?
Apart from being an aesthetic nuisance for a lot of people, the yellowing of pearls is accompanied by another issue – loss of durability.
Once the organic material pearls are made of dries out, it becomes brittle, and the pearls themselves may start to crack.
You would be able to see how the pearl’s outer layer begins to come off around the drill holes, and eventually, the pearl may chip. At that point, there is no way to repair the damage.
How to Prevent Pearls from Turning Yellow
When it comes to pearls turning yellow, prevention is the best cure. It’s as simple as that: You just shouldn’t allow your pearls to dry out.
Don’t store them in plastic bags; don’t keep them in closed spaces such as boxes or safes; don’t put them for a long time in places where it’s hot and there’s no air circulation.
Another important advice to remember is that you should wear your pearls regularly to keep them from drying out. The contact with your skin provides them with oils that your pearls absorb, keeping them moisturized.
For example, if you wear your pearl necklace every couple of weeks, that can help its pearls to keep their color.
However, keep in mind that although skin contact is good for pearls, if you wear them during exercise, the excessive sweat can cause them to lose their luster.
After wearing, don’t forget to wipe your pearls dry with a soft cloth before putting them away; this way, you will remove any residual sweat or chemicals left from your perfume or makeup.
Tips on Caring for Your Pearls
To keep your pearls in good shape, do not expose them to any acids, and keep them away from soap as it can make them less shiny.
Also, apply any perfume and makeup before putting your pearls on as these substances can be harmful to them.
Do not expose your pearls to tap water as it may contain chemicals that can affect their surface; for the same reason, you should not swim in pools when wearing your pearls.
Do not store pearls together with harder pieces of jewelry (such as other gemstones) as pearls are easy to scratch.