How to Clean Jewelry the Right Way

Jewelry is a treasured item; many pieces can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. Over time dirt, skin oils, cleaning, and beauty products can build up on your jewelry, dulling its shine. If you don’t wear your jewelry often or expose your collection to humid environments, your pieces can also develop a greenish-black tarnish. 

Cleaning your jewelry collection regularly is critical for maintaining its appearance and value. While you should always take your collection to a professional jeweler for a once-yearly clean, you also need to perform some regular maintenance and cleaning at home. Learn some simple cleaning methods you can follow at home to keep your jewelry clean and sparkling. 

Cleaning Gold Jewelry

Pure gold is a soft metal that scratches easily, making it challenging to clean and maintain. However, to improve its durability, many jewelry pieces are made from 14-karat gold alloyed with nickel, platinum, or copper. Lower-purity pieces tarnish quickly when exposed to air and chemicals. If not cleaned properly, the other metals in the gold can react with these substances and cause discoloration.

The best way to clean gold jewelry is to fill a small bowl with warm water, add a few drops of mild dish soap, and soak your gold jewelry in the bowl for a few minutes. Then, gently scrub the jewelry with a soft microfiber cloth or a baby toothbrush to remove any dirt or built-up soap residue. Finally, rinse the jewelry under fresh running water and dry it with a different soft cloth.

Cleaning Silver Jewelry 

Silver jewelry is susceptible to tarnishing. Silver reacts with sulfur compounds in the air and develops a patina. As a result, silver jewelry may require more frequent cleaning to maintain its original luster. 

To keep your silver jewelry looking its best, it’s important to wipe it down after each wear using a soft, lint-free cloth to buff the surface of your silver jewelry. 

For a deeper clean, fill a bowl with mild soap and water. Dampen the cloth and wipe down the jewelry, using a Q-tip for hard-to-reach settings. Rinse clean and dry immediately with a clean, lint-free cloth.

If your silver jewelry is particularly tarnished, you may need to use a silver cleaner or polish. Silver polish and cleaners contain mildly abrasive particles to remove tarnish. They often also contain anti-tarnish agents to prevent silver jewelry from tarnishing in the future. 

Cleaning Gemstone Jewelry

A layer of skin oil and dirt can build up on gemstones, making them look dull. However, some gemstones, like turquoise or apatite, are also soft and susceptible to scratching, so you need to handle gemstone jewelry carefully. Metal settings and prongs used to hold gemstones can also be challenging to clean. 

To clean your gemstone jewelry, you will need mild soap, a soft bristle toothbrush, a bowl of warm water, and a clean cloth. Next, soak your gemstone jewelry in warm soapy water for about five minutes. Then use the soft toothbrush to scrub the gemstones lightly. 

Do not soak emerald or amber gemstone jewelry; these gems are porous and can absorb water, damaging the stone. Instead, dampen the cloth and gently wipe the piece. 

Avoid scrubbing too hard because this can damage the gemstones. Finally, rinse your gemstone jewelry in clean water and dry it with a clean cloth. 

Cleaning Pearls and Opals

Pearls and opals are two of the most beautiful and popular types of jewelry. They are sensitive to humidity, so keeping them away from moisture is crucial.  

The problem with cleaning opals is that some are doublets or triplets. This means that a piece of material is placed under the opal to bring out more intensity in the colors. When cleaning an opal, you need to be careful not to damage this backing material, and you cannot soak opals in water or solvents; otherwise, you may loosen the adhesive. 

The nacre layers of a pearl are very easily damaged by everyday chemicals and ordinary cleaning solutions like bleach or ammonia. The silk thread used to attach the pearls to a necklace or bracelet can also stretch and weaken when exposed to water. 

Avoid harsh chemicals or soaps when cleaning pearl and opal jewelry; never use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Instead, use a mild detergent or soap and warm water solution, and dampen a cloth to wipe down the pieces. Dry the jewelry completely using a lint-free cloth after cleaning.

Keep Your Jewelry Collection Sparkling 

Whether you wear your jewelry every day or only on special occasions, it is essential to clean it regularly to keep it looking its best. Even the most well-made piece will lose its luster if not properly cared for. 

It’s also vital to insure your jewelry against loss, theft, or damage. Look for an insurance company that offers affordable premiums based on the jewelry’s appraisal value. Many jewelry insurers provide complimentary cleaning and maintenance services for high-value jewelry pieces. 

No matter how you choose to clean your jewelry, handle it with care and store it safely when you’re not wearing it. With a little love and attention, your jewelry will last for many years.

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