Cleaning pearls after house fire

I have faced many “cleaning” situations over the last 20 years, but
today i received 5 strands of pearls from an unfortunate customer
who lost her home due to fire. Any suggestions on cleaning? I have
pondered peroxide. Anyone had any luck removing the residue and odor
due to fire? I was successful after hurricane katrina in removing
surface dirt and sediment by polishing. The customer’s were just
happy to be able to have “something, anything” that they were able
to salvage after such a devastating storm. Your advice is truly

Cyndi breau

Any suggestions on cleaning? I have pondered peroxide. Anyone had
any luck removing the residue and odor due to fire? 

Peroxide will likely bleach the pearls, so I’d advise against it.
First try soaking them in lukewarm water with a gentle soap
solution, such as Woolite. A lot of the odor will be trapped in the
silk, so consider having them restrung. If the soapy water doesn’t
help, unstring the pearls and soak them in Attack solvent for a
couple of hours. Attack solvent is often used to dissolve epoxy
glues, but won’t harm the pearls.

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL

How about contacting museums like the Smithsonian and talking to
someone in their restoration department or perhaps the Natural
History Museum? Maybe the GIA might also be a good source of info
for what you are doing.

Finally sunny and warm in CT!

Just a thought milk is used to absorb burnt odors perhaps soaking
the pearls in milk will loosen the outer coating of smoke?

Silver & Cameo Heritage Jewelry

An old household trick o get rid of smells is: salt water (add a
good ammount). Leave it overnight in the salt water. Salt absorbs
smells from almost annything.

I hope it helps. Good luck


Hello Cyndi,

Having them restrung is probably a good route to go. When we have
costume jewelry that has lingering offensive odors or heavy perfume,
we seal them in a Ziploc bag with an open box of baking soda.

There’s a special type of baking soda box that we love for this use.
It has a type of flow-though “technology” in which panels on each
side of the box come off. (There’s a fabric sheet-like material that
holds the baking soda in). That way, there’s no worries about spills
if the box/bag tip.

Then, when the box is “dead” it can be used to neutralize your

Hope this helps some,
Tracy’s Treasures

There is one and only one way to fix pearls, and that is to peel
them. I didn’t see the original of this, but “pearls fire” is
enough. If you want pearl beads, you can simply polish them, but they
won’t be pearls. Pearls have an (almost) indefinable quality called
lustre (ok - luster) that is not he same as “Polish” or “Shine”, and
once it is gone it’s irretrievable. However, one can peel pearls -
best left to the pros, taking off the outer layer and exposing the
next. I’m afraid that burnt pearls are burnt pearls…

i had accidentally put a silver choker i had crocheted, into some
silver liquid dip cleaner, not remembering the potato pearls that
were woven into the piece. when i remembered, i was looking at
beautiful crocheted silver, with pieces of chalk looking “things” in
it. very much not what i wanted. i removed it and rinsed the stuff
off, then tossed it into the magic kitchen drawer that hides
everything else that is just stuff.

we rescued a small puppy and as i was looking for something else i
came across the chalk choker, declared the pup royalty and wrapped it
on his neck, well it looped twice…and was still very loose. our
ridgeback apparently felt it was not a manly thing for me to have
done to the pup, and with her assistance, worked the piece off the
pup, brutus, (we had such high hopes for this one) the silver was
missing. when i found it, i had to look twice cause the chalk was
back to being pearls. frshwater pearls, just like before.

build up to close: either brutus is a magic dog and everyone can
send their chalk used to be pearls to me, who will wire crochet them
and brutus can do his thing for the 4 days he wore the necklace, then
wow, we get pearls! and brutus gets extra cookies for treat, and i
after fondling the pearls will send um back…(i know jon is still
laughing i had he guts to write that)

or something in the oil of the dog’s coat helped bring those suckers
back. brutus is a border terrier mix, most likely a doxi, has body of
border, but short little legs, front bowed to what looks like they
form a circle. he is now 7 and going strong.

wild poppy designs…