To enjoy the beauty of your jewelry forever, it’s important to take proper care of it. Part of that care is learning how to clean jewelry. Understanding the dos and don’ts can make the difference between having jewelry you’re proud to wear all the time and having jewelry that sits in your jewelry box untouched.
When it comes to cleaning your jewelry, different metals and gemstones require different care. Special caution needs to be taken with colored gemstones. A simple steam cleaning that works wonders for your diamond ring can have the opposite effect on your color-treated emerald or natural colored amber gemstone.
When using an at-home ultrasonic cleaner, it’s important to know which gemstones to not clean with it: organic gems (pearls, amber, coral), heat-treated gems, coated gemstones, and any gems with surface-reaching breaks that have been treated. There are also other untreated gems that may not respond well to heat (opals, turquoise, tanzanite, moonstone). The vibration of the machine has also been known to loosen or chip gemstones. Because there are so many ways things could go wrong, it’s best to consult a professional jeweler since they know how to navigate this minefield of dos and don’ts.
In between visits to a professional jeweler, there are a few things to know to best care for your jewelry. There are safe and unsafe ways to clean silver and gold jewelry, as well as how to clean a diamond ring and diamond earrings. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s advisable to have a professional jeweler clean your jewelry annually. At that time, a jeweler can also make sure no repairs are needed (loose prongs, etc). They can give you further tips on how to clean jewelry at home. Diamonds Forever has a free jewelry cleaning and inspection service that you can take advantage of to keep your jewelry in tip-top shape and sparkling bright.
How to Clean Silver Jewelry
Sterling silver jewelry can lose its luster over time if not properly cared for. Most sterling silver is 92.5-percent pure silver (marked 925). The other 7.5-percent of metals make your sterling silver jewelry more durable but also are the culprits in tarnishing. In simple terms, tarnishing is a layer of corrosion that forms as oxygen and water chemically reacts with metal. Pollution, tap water (chlorine), vinegar and citrus, perfume, and hair spray can speed up the process.
Knowing how to clean silver jewelry can quell this process. After each time you wear your sterling silver jewelry, run it under some warm water to remove pollution, dirt, and oils. Then dry it with a soft cloth, preferably a jewelers cloth made to polish silver (a microfiber cloth will do in a pinch). Never use paper towels or tissue as they can scratch. Always polish back-and-forth along the silver’s grain. Polishing in circles will only highlight any scratches. For especially tarnished silver jewelry, soak in a mixture of white vinegar (1/2 cup) and baking soda (2 tablespoons) for a couple hours. Then rinse and dry thoroughly.
For any gemstones set into sterling silver, it’s best to consult with a professional jeweler to ensure what’s good for the metal is also good for the gems. They can also give you some more tips on how to clean silver jewelry.
How to Clean Gold Jewelry
Gold jewelry keeps it luster longer than sterling silver jewelry, but still care must be taken. Pure gold doesn’t tarnish but it is prone to scratching. For durability, most gold in jewelry is mixed with other metals. And just as with sterling silver, these metals cause gold jewelry to tarnish.
The safest way to clean gold jewelry is with a professional cleaning solution made specifically to clean gold. A safe second option is to soak gold jewelry in warm water (closer to lukewarm) with a mild dish washing soap (like blue Dawn dish soap). Use a baby-size soft toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry, rinse with warm water, and blot with a soft cloth. It’s important to be gentle when cleaning gold as it is a soft metal.
Cleaning white gold jewelry can be a bit trickier since it is plated (to hide the yellowish-gold color). Polishing too often will cause this plating to wear off sooner.
As with sterling silver, it’s important to consult a professional jeweler about how best to care for any gemstones in your gold jewelry. They can also give you some more tips on how to clean gold jewelry. It can be a bit tricky to navigate this and it’s better to be safe than sorry.
How to Clean a Diamond Ring
Diamonds are one of the hardest natural substances on earth, but they are also a natural magnet for your skin’s oils. These oils then attract dirt which collects on the diamond’s surface. The facets (tiny mirrors) that make up a diamond work to reflect light in and out of the gem. When those mirrors become dirty, they lose their sparkle.
It’s important to clean diamonds often. Because of this, it’s advisable to know how to clean a diamond ring at home. The simplest way to degrease a diamond is to soak it for about 30 minutes in a solution of warm water and dish soap. Then gently brush it with a soft toothbrush and rinse with warm water. The brush helps get into hard-to-reach places where oil and dirt tend to collect. Be sure to use a gentle touch as you don’t want to loosen any prongs. Blot dry with a soft cloth.
It’s important to consult with a professional jeweler about how best to care for any other gemstones in your setting. They can also give you some more helpful tips on how to clean your diamond ring. When using an ultrasonic cleaner at home, take precautions as it can damage stones, depending on certain conditions. A professional jeweler can give you some help with this and offer other helpful tips on how to clean jewelry.
How to Clean Diamond Earrings
Diamond earrings are more prone to grime and dirt than almost any other piece of jewelry. The fact that they are right next to your face means special attention must be given. Just as with your diamond ring, your diamond earrings are a magnet for grease. This means because of where you wear them, they are getting oils not only from your skin but from your hair (and any hair products and cosmetics).
It’s best to have a professional jeweler clean them whenever they inspect your earrings to ensure there are no loose prongs. At that time you can get some tips for how to clean jewelry and specifically how to clean diamond earrings at home.
One method that is easy to do at home is similar to that of cleaning diamond rings. Dip a very soft toothbrush into the bubbly mixture of lukewarm water and mild dish soap and gently brush the diamonds. Rinse and blot dry with a jeweler’s cloth. If your earrings are especially dirty, you can soak them first.
If your diamond earrings have other gemstones in the setting, it’s best to talk to a professional jeweler about the safest cleaning method. If your earrings have any fine filigree that hasn’t been cleaned in a while, some professional advice or cleaning may be the best strategy.