Do Real Pearls Peel Over Time?-Detailed Jeweler’s Answer

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Pearls are a great jewelry choice, especially for formal settings. They tend to add a touch of class and elegance even to the simplest outfit. What’s unique about them is that they require very little processing to acquire the lustrous appeal we adore them for. They are, however, quite delicate gems and need to be handled with care, unless you want them damaged.

If not well maintained, Pearls can become weak, scratched up, brittle, and even crack. But what happens if your pearls peel? Is that natural? Is it a cause for alarm?

In this post, we will address these concerns by taking an in-depth look at whether or not pearls peal, and if they do what would the reason be and how to prevent it.

Want to read more pearls topics? I explained why your pearls turn yellow and why your pearls scratching easily!


My Pearls Are Peeling – Are They Real?

The simple answer to this question is that there is no clear answer to this question. Experts have differing opinions when it comes to whether or not real pearls peel. While some believe that it is possible, some are against the notion. It does, however, help to understand the structure and formation of pearls.

do real pearls peel

As you may know, pearls are formed from layers of nacre, an organic substance that is produced by a species of a mollusk like an oyster. This occurs when there is an irritant that’s introduced into the mollusk that causes the nacre to form layers around it as a way of fighting back. The result is the pearls that are cultivated and used to make the jewelry you enjoy wearing.

For experts who believe that real pearls do peal, they argue that pearls are made up of organic material that is subject to change over time. This is especially if you haven’t taken proper care of them. They suggest that if the nacre layer of the pearl is this, then there are chances that it may peel if they suffer any damage or scratches.

Other experts on the other hand argue that genuine pearls do not peel. They may dry out and become brittle with occasional cracks. The peeling could therefore be an indication that the set of pearls were fake and that the peeling is a result of the polish coming off after some time. There is no definite way of knowing, especially for a novice when it comes to pearls. We would advise that you take the set to a pearl expert and have them examine the set. They would be in a better position to tell you whether or not your set is genuine and the reason for the peeling.


Why Your Real Pears Are Peeling?

It may not be clear as to whether or not be clear as to whether or not real pearls peel. Based on the understanding of pearls, however, there are some possible suggestions as to why this may happen:

do real pearls peel

Aging of the pearl.

Real pearls tend to age over time especially when not taken care of. Pearls love moisture, so if you leave them in a dry place for a long time they tend to dry up and yellow. If a significant amount of time passes, you may start to notice cracks and even peeling on the pearl.

Scratches or damages on the pearl.

As we’ve mentioned pearls are very delicate gems. If not handled properly they tend to get damaged easily. For example, if you were to keep your peals next to hard gems like diamonds, they are likely going to get scratched. Hard surfaces or rough fabrics also tend to scratch the pearls. Chemicals found in cosmetics and other products are also harmful as they weaken the structure of the pearls and make them more brittle. Any of these reasons could lead to the pearls peeling.

Exposure to excess sweat.

While we do recommend you put in your pearls often, we would advise you to take them off when you’re about to engage in strenuous activities. While the small amounts of sweat coming into contact with the pearls may be good for it, excessive amounts could damage it. That’s because excessive sweat eats away at the nacre layer of the pearl and causes it to lose its shine. It may also increase the chances of the pearls peeling or cause other damages to it.


What Should You Do If You Notice Your Pearls Are Peeling?

do real pearls peel

When you notice that your pearls are peeling, the best solution is to have them examined by a professional jeweler. Chances are, however, that once your pearls start peeling there is very little you can do to reverse the problem. But that doesn’t mean that you should throw out your entire set of pearls. There are a few things you can do to work around the issue.

One way is to have your jeweler re-string the pearls and place the damaged peeling ones close to the clasp. That way they will be hidden with the hair and you don’t have to worry about your pearls looking old or dull. This solution, however, works best if there aren’t too many peeled pearls in the set.

Another alternative is to replace the damaged pearls. You can replace them with fresh more lustrous-looking pearls. Of course. the cost of this will depend on the size, quality, color, and shape of the pearls. The cost will also include the number of pearls being replaced. If this happens to be too costly then another alternative is to create a new smaller piece from the original pearl jewelry. For example, you could convert a pearl necklace into a bracelet using the remaining good pearls. You could also convert a bracelet into a cute pair of pearl earrings.

Still, on replacing the damaged pearls, you don’t have to use pearls. You can replace them using other gemstones. It would be preferable to use softer gems to avoid them rubbing against and damaging the good pearls left. What’s more, doing this will create a new, out of the box modern design that is likely to steal the show each time you wear them. So, although the peeling is irreversible, there is still a lot you can do with your pearls, therefore not all hope is lost.


How To Prevent Pearls from Peeling in the Future?

do real pearls peel

As the saying goes, prevention is always better than cure. This is especially true when it comes to pearls. Being that they are very delicate, most of the damage on them is irreversible especially if it occurred over a long period. There are, however, ways in which you can prevent your pearls from ever pealing again. The following are some of them:

1. Wear your pearls often.

Doing so exposes them to moisture and air and keeps them looking fresh and lustrous.

Your natural body oil also helps in keeping them moisturized, and as we mentioned, pearls love moisture. But as you wear them be cautious of bumping and your pearls coming into contact with rough fabric that could scratch it and lead to peeling.


2. Avoid wearing your pearls with other jewelry.

Given that they are ranked between 2.5-4.5 on the Mohs scale, most materials used in jewelry are likely harder than they are.

While stacking jewelry may be a popular trend, it is not one you want to try with your pearls. If you want to stack, then you can stack the pearls together.

Pearls have a less likely chance of scratching and peeling other pearls, as would materials like diamonds, sapphire, or metals like platinum.


3. Avoid exposure to cosmetics and other harsh chemicals.

Such chemical compounds tend to weaken the structure of the pearls and make them more prone to scratches and peeling.

So even as you wear your pearls, ensure you put them on last after your cosmetics and take them off first at the end of the day.

Also, avoid strenuous activities when wearing pearls since the contact with the excess sweat may be damaging to the pearls.

And after every wear ensures you clean the pearls before storing, by wiping them down with a warm dampened soft cloth.

do real pearls peel

4. Store your pearls properly.

Keep them separate from other jewelry and away from your cosmetics. Also, ensure where you’re storing them is lined with soft fabric.

It also helps to wrap the metallic ends of your pearls pieces with a soft fabric incased you are storing the pearls in a velvet or felt pouch. Additionally, ensure that the conditions around the pearl are not dry and the pearls are not exposed to direct sunlight or strong light source.

A tip could be to keep the pearls in a closed cabinet or safe with a small container of water alongside it, to maintain the level of humidity.

Also, it’s advisable to lay the pearls flat in the storage space as opposed to hanging them, to minimize stretching of the piece and rubbing of the pearls against each other.


5. Take your pearls for occasional checkups.

Having a jeweler look at your pearls at least once every year is important. In as much as you clean them frequently in between wears, it’s good to have them professionally cleaned.

They can also get restrung and knotted since they tend to loosen over time.

What’s more, an expert will be able to identify any issues with your pearls earlier on and resolve them before any serious permanent damage is done.



While it is not clear whether peeling pearls are real or fake, the biggest takeaway is that to avoid peeling in the first place, you need to take proper care of your pearls.

But if the peeling has already happened then there are alternatives to working around it even though the peeling isn’t reversible.

Still, we advise you to consult with an expert on pearls on the best way forward in such a scenario.

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