How to Clean Your Jewelry – An A to Z Guide

Jewelry Cleaning TipsRegular cleaning of your jewelry is essential to maintaining its original appearance without having to resort to drastic and expensive measures if left untouched over a long period of time. Most jewelry can be cleaned yourself using normal household products, but always seek out a professional cleaner for antique and valuable pieces.

General Cleaning Rules for Most Jewelry

As a rule of thumb, jewelry may be cleaned with warm water containing a small amount of mild detergent. To get into the nooks and crannies where dirt has built up, use a soft and well used toothbrush or equivalent. Add a touch of household ammonia to the solution and you will discover that the dirt lifts out with greater ease. (However, never use ammonia on pearls or coral; it will ruin them – see below.) Ensure the water you use is tepid and never hot; heat can expand settings causing the stones to come loose. When you have finished brushing, rinse off debris with warm water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

Certain jewels do, of course, require slightly different cleaning products and methods, so browse through the alphabetical list below to find the correct way to clean your own jewelry.

Specific Jewelry Tips

Acrylics
Use tepid water with a mild detergent but avoid immersing in the solution. It is far better to dampen using a soft cloth and then use another clean damp cloth to wipe dry.

Amber
Water will ruin amber, turning it cloudy. So, dip a soft cloth in warm, soapy water, wring it thoroughly and allow to almost dry out. Swiftly clean over the amber with the cloth and dry without delay. Almond oil is ideal for removing any greasy accumulations.

Amethysts
Use water and mild detergent.

Bead Necklaces
Think about re-stringing every couple of years to avoid build up of dirt and oil around the beads´ holes. Bicarbonate of soda (undiluted) brushed over the beads and wiped off will bring them back to their former glory.

Cairngorms
Use water and mild detergent.

Citrines
Use water and mild detergent.

Costume Jewelry
Warm water should suffice for most costume jewelry. Avoid hot water which may end up causing cracks. Leaving too long in the water may cause the cement fixing to loosen.

Diamonds
It is essential to clean diamonds as frequently as is feasible; the light reflection will be greatly reduced as dirt builds up on the facets and settings. To loosen up dirt build-up on the reverse of the setting, use a very soft and well-used toothbrush. Then make up a boiling solution of water, a few soapsuds and one or two drops of ammonia. Dip diamonds for two seconds into the boiling solution, remove and allow to dry naturally. Next dip them in white spirit and lay on kitchen roll to absorb white spirit and dry. (If there are any other types of stone in the same setting, do not use this cleaning method – it is for diamonds only.)

Emeralds
Only ever have cleaned by a jewelry cleaning professional.

Enamel
Never use any water or solvent; they may lift the layers. Dust with a very soft brush from time to time.

Garnets
Use water and mild detergent.

Glass
Avoid using hot water; the glass may crack. Tepid water with a little detergent or soap suds will suffice. Clean out nooks and crannies with a soft brush, such as a shaving brush. A silver cloth is ideal for polishing glass.

Gold
Rub with a chamois. Ensure it is entirely clean and free of any tiny particles that may scratch the gold. Pure gold should be rubbed regularly to maintain its appearance but don´t overdo it with gold plate as you may remove the thin plate over time.

Ivory
Ivory is porous, so excess exposure to water will make it swell and crack. Instead, clean it with methylated spirits, using a fine cloth or cotton bud. Protect it subsequently by applying a thin coating of almond oil. Keep ivory in light and it will reward you by staying white longer. Any old ivory should always be treated by a professional; you may destroy its patina if handled carelessly.

Jet or Black Amber
Treat Jet with assiduous care and very gently. You can dab it with bread rolled into a tight ball; this should give just enough moisture for cleaning purposes, lifting all unwanted marks.

Opals
Opals like an ambient temperature, so do not allow them to suffer from extremes of hot and cold. To clean, embed them in a tub of powdered magnesia, agitating the container slightly, and leave for approximately 12 hours before removing and flicking off the dust with a fine, very soft brush.

Pearls
Pearls develop as layers, primarily of calcium carbonate; therefore, acid will dissolve them. That is a fact never to forget if you own pearls. They should always be stored away from other jewelry and always in acid-free paper. Make sure you restring your pearls every few years. When cleaning pearls, use the softest of chamois and ensure it is entirely clean. Make every effort to rub in between the beads where an accumulation of dirt and your own oils will have occurred. Each time you remove your pearls to be restrung, wash them in tepid water with a splash of mild detergent. Never use any acids.

Plaster and Paste
Do not wash plaster and paste; they dissolve on contact with water. Use a solvent such as diluted ammonia or simply dust with a soft shaving brush.

Platinum
Treat as for gold (above).

Rubies
Use water and mild detergent.

Sapphires
Use water and mild detergent.

Silver
Silver, despite its lustrous appeal, is dreadful for tarnishing and requires regular cleaning. Search out a reputed proprietary jewelry silver polish. Ensure you thoroughly wipe off all the polish or the silver will tarnish all the more rapidly. Remember that acid tarnishes silver, so consider what you are doing when wearing a silver ring or bracelet.

Turquoise
Use water and mild detergent.

To sum up, most jewelry, with the right care and attention, may be effectively and safely cleaned using common household cleaning agents and utensils. However, always, without fail, take expert advise on the care of any valuable jewelry.


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1 Comment

  1. sguyot on 13.02.2008 at 06:56 (Reply)

    A very complete guide to jewelry cleaning. Nicely presented as well

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