A friend reached out to ask me if I could lengthen a strand of pearls she had inherited from her mom. I was delighted to oblige and asked her to send me a photo of the pearls.  When I saw them, I was crestfallen that the pearls were very yellowed. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to find similar pearls to use in lengthening this strand.  My friend shared that, admittedly, she has had her mother’s pearls since her mom’s passing, twenty-one years ago, and had never worn them.  If you’ve ever seen true natural yellow pearls, you know that they have a shiny, luminous quality and are quite expensive.  On the other hand, yellowed pearls are pearls that have aged from dehydration.  They have a kind of yellow that indicates the deterioration of their original beauty and luminosity and no longer have any monetary value.

According to The Jewelry Shopping Guide, a team of jewelry enthusiasts and experts who share industry experience and research online: “The preventative measure to keep pearls from yellowing is to wear them more. As pearls come into contact with air and moisture, they receive the hydration they require to keep them luminous and beautiful. Your body oils also act as a moisturizer for the pearls, keeping them from drying out. Wearing your pearls once or twice a month is sufficient to maintain the color of your pearls.”

If your pearls are not too yellowed, a whitening tip is to lay them in sunlight for a few days.  Pearls are porous, and as such, their most valuable asset, their nacre (pronounced “nack-er”), which is their luminescent outer coating, must be protected. Here are other ways to protect and preserve your pearls.