Do Real Pearls Turn Yellow?-Reasons Explained in 2024!

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Pearl jewelry and have always been a classic timeless piece, that never seems to go out of style. Among all the gemstones that exist today, they are the most unique of them all. Not only do they occur in the sea, as opposed to under the earth like the rest, but their luster also is not dependent on any cutting or polishing.

Although coveted for their beauty, most of you often wonder, is it true that pearls turn yellow with time? If so, what does that mean, and is it reversible?

In this post, we cover all of these concerns as well as the worth of yellowed pearls.

We also write some pearls topics here, such as Do Real Pearls Scratch easily? Do Real Pearls Peel Over Time? Please click the links to read!


Do Real Pearls Turn Yellow?

Pearls are often seen as white lustrous circular gems, even though they come in different colors including black and pink. So, when you see your white pearl turning yellow, it’s only natural to get worried. Is it normal for pearls to turn yellow? Or does that mean that your set of pearls are not authentic?

The answer is yes, it is normal for real pearls to turn yellow, especially if not properly taken care of. This is an inevitable part of aging. So, you can relax, your pearls are real. In any case, fake pearls are made of plastic or ceramic, so they would never turn yellow. If anything, the pearls turning yellow is a sign that they are real organic pearls that are prone to change. But keep in mind that there is a difference between yellowed pearls and yellow pearls.

do real pearls turn yellow

We’ve already mentioned that white is not the only color that pearls appear in. Aside from pink and black pearls, you can also find yellow or golden pearls, otherwise known as yellow pearls. It goes without saying, yellow pearls occur naturally in that color while yellowed pearls turn yellow gradually over time. What’s more, yellow pearls are a little more resistant to the yellowing process when compared to other pearls. Yellow pearls are however rare, having been cultivated in a specialized way compared to white pearls. As such, yellow pearls are pricier compared to white ones.


Why Your Real Pearls Turn Yellow?

Now that we know the yellowing of pearls is normal, you should understand why they turn yellow. That way, you’ll be in a better position to prevent the yellowing of the pearls. But first, as you may know, pearls are formed from layers of nacre, an organic material produced by various species of mollusks. Most of us are familiar with oysters as the only mollusk, but there is a wider variety including, clams, mussels, and gastropods.

do real pearls turn yellow

As time passes, the layers of nacre are subject to change as a result of natural processes that change their composition. This process of change is normal for any pearl regardless of the quality. But the main reason, pearls turn yellow is because of how they are stored. With most jewelry, you are advised to store them in cool dry places with low humidity and no exposure to air. Proper storage of pearls is quite the opposite.

Pearls naturally occur in water bodies, so they need moisture to maintain their luster. Keeping them in a dry place with no moisture or air circulation for a long period will cause the pearl to dry up and become brittle. Over time the dryness begins yellowing the pearl and if enough time passes this change could be irreversible and the pearl may even shatter easily when dropped. That is the impact of yellowing on pearls. It reduces their value as a result.


Are Yellowed Pearls Worth Anything?

To answer the question of what value yellowed pearls, have, you must keep in mind that they are different from yellow pearls. As we had already distinguished, yellow pearls occur naturally through specialized cultivation. Yellowed pearls on the other hand are a result of aging white pearls that have dried out.

do real pearls turn yellow

While yellow pearls are highly valuable and considerably pricier than white pearls, yellowed pearls aren’t worth anything. With yellow pearls, they are rare, fresh, and still have that lustrous look. Yellowed pearls on the other hand are dull, brittle, and dry. They aren’t as appealing nor is are they good quality.

Think of yellowed pearls like tarnished silver or rusted iron. In other words, yellowed pearls are damaged goods. So, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to resell yellowed pearls. You do however need to be keen enough and examine the quality of yellow pearls as some conmen may try to pass off yellowed aged pearls as authentic rare yellow pearls.


Can Yellowed Pearls Be Whitened?

Luckily, yellowing pearls can be whitened but keep in mind that after a certain time that might not be possible.

do real pearls turn yellow

So how do you know what the yellowing effect in the pearl is irreversible? When your pearls have been yellowing over a long period, and you start to notice the pearls flaking or chipping. At this point, reversing the damage is impossible. If it’s not too late, there are three steps you can follow that people have tried when it comes to whitening yellowed pearls.

Keep in mind, however, that pearls are extremely fragile gems, therefore you need to take extra precautions when trying out these steps.

It is advisable to consult with a professional jeweler beforehand. With that in mind, the following are those three steps you can try:


Step 1: Clean the Pearls.

This process involves first, wiping down the pearls with warm water and a soft cloth. Next, make a mixture of lukewarm water and mild dish soap. Soak the soft cloth in the soapy water and gently rub the pearl. Avoid soaking or submerging the pearls in the water as this will weaken the silk thread used to string the pearls together. Cleaning the pearls removes any dirt or oils on the surface of the pearl. After rubbing the pearls, rinse them thoroughly with clean cold water and dry them well with a clean piece of cotton.

Step 2: Use Acetone or Nail Polish Remover to Remove the Stains on the Pearls.

Acetone is great for removing stubborn stains and whitening old pearls. Avoid using them on fake pearls, however, as this may wipe away the pearly painting done on them. To whiten the pearls, take a clean dry soft cloth and dampen it with acetone or nail polish remover. Use the damp cloth to wipe the pearls gently before moving on to the final step.

Step 3: Sunlight Treatment.

After you’ve wiped down every inch of the pearls with acetone, leave them out in direct sunlight to dry. This is what is called sunlight treatment. Exposure to direct sunlight for several hours or even an entire day is said to give the pearls their white pearly color back. Repeat this each day until you start noticing a change in the color of your pearls. If you aren’t seeing a change or aren’t sure about these steps, you can take the pearls to a professional jeweler.


Tips For Restoring Your Yellowed Pearl.

do real pearls turn yellow

As with anything, but especially with pearls, prevention is better than cure. The best way to prevent yellowing or restoring your pearls is in how you maintain and care for them. The following are some tips that will ensure your pearls don’t start yellowing:

1. Wear your pearls often.

This is a great way of preventing your pearls from yellowing. By wearing them often you are constantly exposing them to air and moisture and preventing them from drying up. Wearing your pearls at least once or twice a month should be enough to maintain their luster and color.

2. Clean after every wear.

In as much as it’s great to put on the jewelry as often as possible, exposure to too much body oils and sweat could be damaging to the pearls. Use a damp soft cloth to wipe down the pearls and remove the build-up of oils and other contaminants. Then ensure they are fully dry before storing them away.

3. Proper storage.

When storing the pearls ensure that they are away from contaminating chemicals like oils and perfumes or hairsprays. They should also be laid flat and not hanged to avoid stretching the necklace or bracelet. The storage should be a dedicated space lined with soft fabric and separated from other jewelry pieces.

4. Last on and first off.

To avoid getting oil or make-up and perfume on your pearls, they should be the last thing you put on when getting ready. At the end of the day, they should be the first thing you take off before taking off your make-up.



There you have it, now you know why peals tend to yellow over time, and ways to prevent that from happening. If they do become yellowed, you can try the three steps we mentioned.

Of course, it is always advisable to consult an expert beforehand so you don’t risk damaging your pearls. But ensure you act quickly before it’s too late and the yellowing is irreversible.

Read more useful tips here or here!

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