When shopping for jewelry, one has to consider the upkeep. Many reputable jewelers recommend that fine jewelry be thoroughly cleaned three times a year. No one wants their treasured diamond necklace to lose its luster or their rose gold bracelet to tarnish. Whether it’s an estate piece, a stunning engagement ring, or even a watch, DIY jewelry cleaning is possible and easy to do right from the comfort of your own home.
Before diving into the ways in which DIY jewelry cleaning is achieved, here’s a list of a few basic household items you might need:
- Micro-fiber cloths
- Mild dish soap
- Cotton swabs
- Baking soda
- Silver polish
- Gold polish
Different metals and jewels require different approaches. A general rule of thumb for all jewelry, however, is the fewer ingredients, the better and safer. Gold is a soft metal, more prone to scratches, so using anything other than gold polish isn’t recommended. Pure gold won’t tarnish, but most gold jewelry is infused with alloy and that does tarnish. Platinum doesn’t tarnish at all but still needs a good cleaning every now and then. Baking soda, while a slightly abrasive cleaning solution, can actually remedy heavier tarnishes on silver. The formula is 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Be sure to rinse with cold water and buff dry once you notice the tarnish is gone.
Even costume jewelry needs cleaning. A simple mild soap and wet cloth or cotton swab will wipe away grime and build up. Keep in mind, costume jewelry isn’t set like fine jewelry, so it’s important not to soak it as that could lead to the loosening of any gems. Make sure to lay the piece upside down to dry as this will keep any moisture from getting inside.
When it comes to precious and semi-precious stones (e.g., emerald, sapphire, amethyst), avoid too hot water. Excessive heat can cause these to crack. Pearls and amber are two of the most sensitive gemstones due to their organic nature. Avoid hot water and oils when it comes to these and be gentle when drying. These organic gemstones should be stored in a cloth jewelry box.
Diamonds are the hardest gemstone on Earth and while you don’t have to worry about scratches, they do require maintenance. Some jewelers will use what is known as an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner to restore a diamond’s brilliance, but DIY jewelry cleaning also includes diamonds. If you don’t want to take it to a jewelry store, let it soak for twenty minutes or so in a mild soap and water before scrubbing it with a soft brush. A baby’s toothbrush is ideal. Or you can simply spray some Windex on a micro-fiber cloth and wipe clean.
The following are a few tips and things to consider to keep your jewelry in tip-top shape:
- Remove any rings while washing your hands, applying lotions, or cleaning the house.
- Chlorine and salt water will both cause damage, so don’t wear your jewelry while swimming.
- Don’t allow silver to sit for too long in the jewelry box.
- The friction caused by wearing it will maintain the shine.
- Invest in anti-tarnish bags for storage and micro-fiber cloths for cleaning.
- Have valuable jewelry checked regularly by an esteemed jeweler to ensure the stones are in good shape and that the settings are secure.
- Store jewelry in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
Jewelry is not only of material worth but, perhaps most importantly, sentimental value. The proper care and storage, over time, can ensure the aesthetic appeal and longevity of these special pieces. Whether you’re a do-it-yourselfer or a leave it to a professional, one thing is for certain – all types of jewelry need proper cleaning. The next time you’re shopping for jewelry, you will know exactly how to take care of that significant accessory.