A Guide to Safely Cleaning Your Jewelry
Cleaning is the most effective way to preserve and keep your valuable jewelry in excellent condition. Jewelry cleaning will not only restore your item to as near its original state as possible, but cleaning will also remove any dirt, food, and foreign objects and improve its overall appearance. Rings and necklaces that are worn close to the skin lose their luster. Wearing jewelry in the shower or while you are washing the dishes can attribute to dull-looking jewelry and can shorten the life of the jewels. Air born contaminants, moisture, and corrosion will tarnish the shine on jewelry. Learning how to clean jewelry is easy and simple. However, use caution. The type of cleaning product you use should be dependent on the type of jewelry you want to clean. While some cleaning methods will work wonders on one piece of jewelry, they may ruin a delicate old trinket. Different stones and metals require different cleaning techniques. Inspect your jewelry before you begin cleaning. Check the setting, the gemstones, locket, and jewels to make sure that they are securely in place. If you scrub a stone that is loose, it may separate from its setting and cause damage.
Be gentle with removing any dust from your jewelry with a soft cotton rag. Soak gold jewelry in a few drops of mild dish washing detergent and warm water solution for one to three minutes. Be careful using ammonia to clean gold. Although it is quite effective, ammonia should be used sparingly. One part ammonia to six parts water will be sufficient. If dirt has been built up around grooves and facets and is difficult to get out, use a soft toothbrush to clean. Rinse with a trickle of warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
Diamonds are the hardest of all minerals; yet, they require care to maintain their luster. The clarity of a diamond relies on the amount of light that enters the stone and reflects back to the human eye. The smallest amount of oil or grease on the surface can dull its reflection. As is the case with cleaning gold, dip the diamond jewelry in a warm solution of water and a few drops of mild detergent for two to five minutes. If necessary, clean the diamond carefully with a soft toothbrush. After rinsing the diamond, buff the stone with a dry soft cloth. Ammonia solutions are good at cleaning diamonds but caution should still be used, as some jewelers warn they can remove the color from most metals. If your diamond is set in precious metal, experts recommend you avoid or use extreme caution when cleaning with ammonia.
The best way to keep a pearl necklace or bracelet clean is to wear them frequently. The oils from your skin maintain their luster. You can still keep them in good condition if you don’t wear them often. Just wipe the pearls with a soft cloth dotted frugally with olive oil. Use a dry cloth to polish the pearls. Inspect your pearl jewelry – check to make sure that the pearls are secure on the string – before you begin cleaning. Use a warm solution of soapy water with a small amount of baby soap. Baby soap is soft and gentle. (A word of caution, never soak jewelry that has stones for any length of time since this can loosen the stones from the setting). Put the pearls in the solution for only a minute then rub them dry with a soft cotton cloth.
Although commercial silver paste products are good at removing the tarnish off silver, there is a more natural method. In a glass bowl, line the bottom with aluminum foil. Boil water and add two tablespoons of baking soda and one tablespoon of salt. Mix the solution then empty into the glass bowl. Place your silver jewelry in the bowl until the water has cooled off. This cleaning solution is so potent that you’ll find that you won’t have to go back to get inside the crevices and creases of your jewelry. Afterwards, rinse with water and polish with a soft rag.
First, you will want to assess the condition of your jewelry before you clean. Gemstones set in gold or silver should be fastened securely in their settings. If you find any stones that are loose or broken, take it to a jeweler to get repaired. The hardest of gemstones, like rubies, sapphires, and diamonds, have the potential to shatter if handled roughly. Emeralds are brittle and can easily fracture. Most gemstones should be cleaned using the same method as pearls with a solution of warm soapy water. Avoid soaking porous gemstones and instead use a wet cotton cloth or a jewelry cloth to clean the stone.
When to Seek Professional Cleaning Services
Ultrasonic cleaners work best for harder gemstones. They can crack softer gemstones. For more serious cleaning, seeking the expertise of a professional jeweler is recommended. Antique jewelry that is old and delicate needs to be handled by a professional. These experts will know what to look for if a piece of jewelry is flawed and needs repair. They have experience and are knowledgeable about chemicals to avoid and the different specialized cleaning methods that will make your jewelry look like new again.
- 12 Home Products for Cleaning Jewelry – Reader’s Digest provides tips to get old jewels and gems looking shiny and new again.
- Don’t spend to clean gems – Consumer Reports offers alternative methods to cleaning jewelry without spending money on store bought products.
- Speed Clean Your Jewelry – Good Housekeeping offers fast fixes to shine silver, brighten gold, and sparkle pearls.
- Tips on Cleaning Jewelry – CBS News offers sure-fire ways to make jewels sparkle and last a lifetime.
- Jewelry Cleaning Tips: Keep Your Jewelry Sparkling Without Expensive Cleaners – Yahoo provides tips for cleaning gold, silver, cameos, and pearls.
- Secrets to Keeping Your Diamond Sparkling -- Gemological Institute of America provides common sense tips for diamond care.
- Jewelry Cleaning – American Society of Appraisers has an outline of how to safely clean jewelry.
- How to Clean Jewelry at Home – Health Guidance for better health provides tips for taking care of your jewelry at home.
- Care of Pearls – This care advice from Berkeley pertains to types of pearls.