How to Whiten Yellowed Pearls

Michelle Powell-SmithMarch 8, 2010


Pearls develop a patina with age, and vintage pearls have a look all their own. Pearls naturally yellow with age and exposure to perspiration and the environment. Choose to love your naturally aged and yellowed pearls, or try some simple treatments to whiten them. Note that pearls are delicate and require special care while cleaning to avoid damage.

Step 1

Use a soft damp cloth to wipe away any dust, perspiration or cosmetic residue from your pearls.

Step 2

Transfer pearl cleaning solution into a clean container. Use fresh solution every time you clean or whiten pearls to avoid transferring old dirt onto your delicate jewelry.

Step 3

Place your pearls, whether loose or strung, into the toe of a pair of pantyhose and knot. Allow them to soak according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Step 4

Remove the pearls from the cleaning solution and place into a container of fresh water and a small amount of baby shampoo. Remove and rinse well.

Step 5

Wipe dry with a soft cloth. Buff with a bit of olive oil to add additional sheen to your whitened pearls.


  • Pearl cleaning solution
  • Clean container
  • Clean pantyhose
  • Soft cloth or chamois
  • Baby shampoo
  • Olive oil


You can find pearl cleaning solution at any jeweler that deals in pearls and many discount or drugstores. A jeweler specializing in pearls may be able to use hydrochloric acid for more effective whitening; however, this will damage the pearls and reduce their lifespan. Never use ultrasonic cleaners or jewelry cleaners sold for gold or silver on your pearls.

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