Repair & Maintenance

How to clean jewelry

By Jean Sanders
Info Guru,

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two rings dropped in water
Few things sparkle like new gold, silver, platinum, and precious or semiprecious stones
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Regular cleaning can keep your baubles, bangles and beads looking fresh-from-the-jeweler brilliant all the time.

Did you know that after even a few days' wear your pieces of bright and shiny jewelry can dull from lotions, body oil and everyday dust and dirt? It's true and that's why jewelers recommend that you should clean all your pieces regularly. You will be amazed at the difference a good cleaning can make—even on your oldest pieces.

Before cleaning your jewelry, examine it carefully to make sure that all settings, clasps and prongs are secure. If you find a problem, take the item to a jeweler for repair. There are many ways to clean jewelry—from simple warm, soapy water to sophisticated electronic jewelry cleaners that may be purchased for less than $40 online and at jewelry stores. There are also many different cleaning solutions that are on the market today that do an excellent job. The decision is yours – homegrown or purchased. We're listing some simple ways to get that sparkle back in your favorite jewels.

How to clean gold:

Gold doesn't tarnish, but it can be dirtied or dulled by the oil in your skin, body lotion, makeup or other substances. There are lots of products out there that promise to clean gold, but you can do it easily with mild detergent and a soft cloth.

1: Mix a squeeze of mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. 2: Put the gold item into the soap mixture and let sit for a few minutes. 3: Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry. 4: Remove item from soapy water, rinse it and dry thoroughly with a soft polishing cloth.

Overall Tips&Warnings

  • It is wise to check not only clasps, mountings, and prongs but also earrings posts for damage before washing the jewelry.
  • Always be sure gold jewelry is completely dry before storing it.
  • Never use a harsh or abrasive cleaner, a stiff brush or a scouring pad on gold.

How to clean diamonds

If diamonds are your best friends, treat them accordingly. Regular cleaning will keep them sparkling. In Soapy Solution: 1: Take a small bowl and mix a small amount of mild dish detergent with warm water until sudsy. 2: Dip the item to be cleaned into the solution. 3: Dip a soft toothbrush into the cleaning solution, and gently brush the item. 4: Rinse in warm running water. 5: Pat dry with a soft, lint-free cloth

In Ammonia Solution 1: Take a small bowl and mix a solution of 6 parts water to 1 part ammonia. 2: Dip the item to be cleaned into the solution. 3: Dip a soft toothbrush into the cleaning solution, and gently brush the item. 4: Pay special attention to the backs of stones and their mountings, areas that tend to collect dirt and oils. 5: Rinse in warm running water. 6: Pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth.

Tips & Warnings
  • For especially soiled diamonds, mix a solution of half cold water and half ammonia in a small bowl. Let the item soak in the solution for 30 minutes, then gently brush the item with a soft toothbrush. Rinse in warm running water and allow the item to air dry on paper towels.
  • Be sure to use the ammonia and ammonia-water solution only in a well-ventilated area, and avoid inhaling the ammonia solution directly.

How to clean silver jewelry

1: Clean the silver with a nonabrasive silver polish. 2: Apply the polish with a soft cloth, gently working it into stains. 3: Wipe away excess polish and buff the jewelry with a soft, lint-free cloth until it's shiny. 4: Keep in mind that frequently wearing silver jewelry can keep it from becoming tarnished.

Overall Tips & Warnings about how to clean jewelry:
  • Keep your jewelry in a fabric-lined case, or wrap each piece individually in soft tissue paper.
  • Have a jeweler check yearly for loose prongs, worn mountings and general wear and tear.
  • Keep jewelry away from chlorine and harsh chemicals, which can erode the finish and polish of gems.
  • Never use boiling water to clean jewelry. Do not use jewelry cleaner on pearls and porous stones, such as emeralds, rubies, lapis lazuli, coral and turquoise. Wipe them clean with a soft, damp cloth or have them cleaned professionally. Consult a jeweler when in doubt about a particular stone.
  • Exposure to perfume, cosmetics or perspiration can stain gemstones.
  • Don't be too aggressive when brushing your diamond jewelry; although diamonds are hard, the material in which they're set may not be. Gold and silver could be scratched if brushed too hard.

Learning how to buy jewelry is just as important as knowing how to maintain and clean it. What's even more important is learning how to buy expensive jewelry and make sure you get the best quality for the best price, like diamonds. It is a very meticulous process but is outlined in, how to choose a diamond - four easy to follow guidelines.

Note: There are a few pieces of jewelry that should not be cleaned. Hair jewelry popular in the Victorian era should not be cleaned. Also jewelry with delicate materials or foil-backed stones cannot stand up to commercial cleaners. In other cases you may ruin the natural patina on antique jewelry that enhances the value of the piece. If you are not sure how to clean jewelry, especially if it's a treasureed piece, ask the advice of a jeweler.

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