Change of color in pearls?

Hi everybody,

I bought several strands of pearls at a gem show about six months
ago. Using the pearls for necklaces in Christmas gifts, I’ve noticed a
change in colour in the pearls. Several pearls seem to be going
blotchy in colour. Is this a storage problem on my part? I’ve been
keeping the pearls in small plastic bags. Could it be a dye problem?

Any info. would be greatly appreciated.


Catrina Warner

sounds like they have been dyed, sometimes peach and natural lavender
also fade.



Regarding your question on pearls changing color, as far as I am
aware, natural color pearls should not show any “blotchiness” in color
change. The only color changes I’m aware of in natural color pearls
stem from absorption of chemicals or degradation of surface quality.

What color are these pearls?


catrina - pearls & plastic are anathema (fancy term for a “NO NO”) one
of the best storage material i’ve found for pearls is just soft
flannel square. my mother used to just open a large square of soft
flannel, leave the pearls unhooked, lay them across the center of the
square corner to corner, fold it over the pearls into a triangle,
loosely knot the ends & put into the whole mess into the case. it
kept them from rubbing against each other in a bag - now if she had
just been as good with children … ive

how are they anathema? what happens when pearls are stored in
plastic boxes?

jean adkins

I’m puzzled by this as well. The Tahitian pearl dealers I know keep
their stock in various plastic bags, and I’ve seen more than one
jewelry roll marketed for the public with plastic dividers.


I’m not an expert on the subject of pearls, but I know that there are
chemicals in the plastics that gradually “outgas”, this is especially
noticeable in a closte atmosphere. For instance, you have probably
noticed in your car, that over time your windshield collects a sort of
hazy coating that has to be washed off from time to time. This is
from the plastics in the interior of your car. (Unless you are a
smoker, in which there is also, of course, a lot of cigarette smoke

I can quite imagine that pearls could get such a coating, from the
outgassing of the plastic container.



Interesting. I’d assumed that this was due to pollutants in the air,
and the interaction of dust caking onto surfaces that are subjected to
cycles of mist and drying (rather like my bathroom’s chrome surfaces).

    I can quite imagine that pearls could get such a coating, from
the outgassing of the plastic container. 

Catrina Warner mentioned that it had only been six months since she’d
bought the pearls. I find it hard to believe it would happen in six
months, unless her pearls are being subjected to more temperature
change than I would consider normal. I know of a strand of Tahitian
pearls that has been sealed in a plastic bag for 2 years (with regular
exposure to room air and sunlight, and the occasional washing), and it
hasn’t become blotchy.

Catrina, could you followup for us and let us know some more about
your pearls? Are they freshwater? Akoya? Dyed?


They probably don’t have them in stock long enough for any changes to
become evident – ??

The pearls I am referencing are in an unusual situation, and are
actually sample stock for a jewelry line, and have been kept in
plastic for an extended time.