Daily Wire Tip: Sterling Silver and Fresh Water Pearls

By on October 27, 2009
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Daily Wire Jewelry Making Tip


I want to use some fresh water pearls with sterling silver.  Will the aging of the silver damage the pearls?


No, silver tarnish will not harm fresh water pearls. Time will eventually cause the sterling silver to tarnish and the way it is cleaned needs to be a careful procedure to avoid damage to the pearls. Several gentle methods will work; use an ionic cleaner such as the Speed Brite, use a baking soda/aluminum foil/hot water bath, or a silver polishing cloth. Do not use toothpaste as it has abrasives that can leave fine scratches on the silver and destroy the nacre on the pearls. Or upgrade the sterling to Argentium to enjoy longer periods of time between cleanings.

Answer contributed by Dale `Cougar` Armstrong

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  1. avatar

    Sue Nugent

    October 27, 2009 at 2:12 pm

    I have just read an article that says–don’t carry your jewelry in plasic zip lock bags. What should I use?

  2. avatar


    October 27, 2009 at 5:24 pm

    What a good question. I’m a newbie and was just going to start a project with silver and pearls.

  3. avatar


    October 30, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    Personally I have used individual plasic bags to carry my pieces to and from shows and to store every piece for long periods of time with the exception of opals and pearls.

    • avatar

      Heather Gale

      February 9, 2016 at 7:25 am

      Me three dale

  4. avatar


    July 19, 2012 at 6:20 am

    I love my tumbler for cleaning the pearls and silver. BEFORE anyone yells, I substitute a similarly sized glass container for the tumbling barrel and fill it 1/3 – 1/2 full with converted rice (i.e. Uncle Ben’s. NO WATER! Tumble. The rice becomes dirty and the silver cleans up nice.

    • avatar


      July 19, 2012 at 8:58 am

      Great tip Celeste!

    • avatar


      July 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm

      This will help me so much. Thank you for sharing

  5. avatar

    Judy G

    July 19, 2012 at 7:22 am

    Will the liquid that goes in the speed brite cleaner, take the shine off of stones like Malacite, coral, and other porus stones like some of the other cleaners/solutions do? If so, how do we clean these types of stones/beads in necklaces where the silver beads don’t touch the metal screen in most cleaners? We are having to wrap a thin wire around the necklace to touch each silver bead so that that wire touches the wire screen. Then the shine is off the beads and no one wants to buy the necklace. Polishing cloths and using a tooth brush and cleaning each bead is too time intensive and doesn’t get into the cuts on the silver beads. When you have many necklaces to clean between each show, it seems to be an impossible task…Any ideas/HELP?

    • avatar

      Barbara Andersen

      July 19, 2012 at 3:27 pm

      I can verify that using your Speedbrite and cleaner on malachite will ruin it. I learned the hard way! Drusy is another stone that I have ruined in my ionic cleaner.

  6. avatar

    Sally Wooten

    July 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I might add DO NOT use that dip-once silver cleaner/tarnish remover with any pearls, especially dyed pearls, as it will also remove nacre and any dyes.

  7. avatar


    July 21, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    So what is the best way to clean jewelry with both silver and pearls?

  8. avatar

    Rose Barden

    August 1, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    So, this is for Celeste, or anyone that can help. Celeste said she used Uncle Ben Converted Rice, now what if I use this in just a regular jar with Silver and rice and start shaking, you think I would get the same results, being I do’t have a tumbler?

    Rose in Riverview

  9. avatar

    Carol Praissman

    August 23, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    THANK YOU! I’ve been avoiding using pearls with silver wire for exactly the same reason.

  10. avatar


    October 24, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Why don’t you put pearls or opals in plastic bags to store? Also, can you use the baking soda/aluminum foil bath for silver jewelry containing soft stones i.e. malachite, turquoise etc. without dulling the shine?

    • avatar


      August 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Could I get the details of the baking soda/aluminun foil bath? My hesitation has been using silver or silver plated beads in leather wrap bracelets with stones and pearls.

  11. avatar


    September 23, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Cloth. Silk words best for a lining. The pouches are simple to make, and will keep your jewelry safe. don\’t forget the non tarnish strip.

  12. avatar

    Joy Woelfer

    December 8, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I’d love to know if the aluminum bath works with the soft stones??

    I figured the only way around “silver” and soft stones was to use pewter which doesn’t ever change, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

    There is one other option for all the other sterling silver I have. There is a product called Everbrite, the liquid is recommended. You can dip your silver into it. Or paint it on. It is easily water washed off the brush and dried. It will last and last. The teacher at Beadfest who recommended it to our class said it lasted at least 6 years of hard use. You can find them on the internet.

    Frankly I am using it on many different metal finishes to keep them nice.

  13. avatar


    February 9, 2015 at 7:32 am

    Joy, thank you for your recommendation to use Everbrite – Protectaclear. Can you tell me where you purchased it?

  14. avatar

    Joy Woelfer

    June 6, 2016 at 2:24 pm

    Someone asked where to get the Everbrite….you can google it and get it sent to you. Hope this helps..