Cleaning vintage faux pearls

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 Cleaning vintage pearls made of glass or plastic.

Care needs to be taken when cleaning vintage faux pearl items or any fake or simulated pearl, that are defined as not real or freshwater pearls in accessories and jewellery. Cleaning real pearls is very different.

Make up, perfume and just general every day grime from use will gradually build up onto the faux pearls. First take a damp cloth soaked in a hand hot washing up liquid solution, wring till almost dry. Then wipe a pearl that is near the clasp or where it will be least seen – to see if the beads outer coating rubs off or not. If you have no damage , then continue to clean the rest of the piece and leave to dry thoroughly before storing or wearing.

cleaning faux pearlscleaning fake pearl earrings

However if you have some pearl damage occuring, then you can not continue cleaning. Some faux pearl beads will shed their pearl coating from poor storage or from being coated with chemical products, such as perfume and hairspray. This can happen also because of age, quality and sometimes if necklace and if faux pearl jewellery has been kept in a closed container. This seems to accelerate the peeling and give a general decaying process to the simulated pearl beads.

Don’t throw away such a piece however. Restoration may be possible if there is only a little peel to the pearl. Wipe gently with a damp cloth to clean and assess how extensive the peeling is. Stabilize and coat the simulated pearl beads that have lost their coating, by using a matching nail polish or enamel paint. More than one layer of varnish may be required and leave to dry well in between coatings.

If the whole of the pearls are shedding then just recycle the beads. Most will clean up to a pretty white opaque glass or plastic bead. Usually I soak the beads after removing them from their string or findings for a day or so in water or a part vinegar and water solution. Then with a cloth remove the flaking pearlized coating (if it hasn’t fallen off) and then leave the beads to dry thoroughly in a warm place on a towel. Once dry they can be used in other jewellery making projects.

We have many faux pearl jewellery available in our extensive jewellery & accessories collection. 
Updated October 2017. Copyright Jewels & Finery UK.