Let’s face it: everybody’s jewelry needs a good clean occasionally. If you take a look at your own collection you’ll probably notice your precious jewelry getting tarnished or just plain grimy – and maybe also scuffed and scratched. So how do you quickly clean your jewelry?
All jewelry needs some care and attention to be kept at its sparkling best. If you’re not sure where to start, we’re here to help with our top 10 top tips to quickly clean your jewelry to help you learn about how to quickly and easily clean and care for your gold, silver, and gemstone jewelry.
If you have more time and to better understand the issues and risks when it comes to clean jewelry, you really should dive into our comprehensive jewelry cleaning & care guide, which will give you all the info you need. Also if you’re not sure of any of the terms we use in this article, take a look at our extensive jewelry glossary with 100+ definitions of key jewelry terms.
It can be easy to miss that your jewelry needs a clean, either because you wear it all the time and don’t notice the changes or because it’s put away somewhere and you don’t look at it too often. You might be a bit alarmed when you realize just how grimy and dull some of your favorite pieces are.
The good news is that cleaning for most jewelry pieces is pretty easy. Read on to find out how.
This is the simplest cleaning step to do, but pretty much all jewelry should benefit from it. You might find it’s all you need to do for many pieces, particularly for solid gold jewelry or fashion jewelry.
Wash your jewelry with warm water and a gentle colorless and fragrance-free liquid soap. Castile soap, soap for woolens, or even a gentle hand soap with no moisturizer, antiseptic or harsh chemicals should work well.
Use a cloth or soft-bristled brush to help get the grime out of crevices. Be sure not to leave soft gems such as opals or pearls soaking in water for too long as it may affect them.
Once it’s clean make sure you rinse it and dry it quickly and well.
If grime and dust aren’t removed easily from intricate pieces, then look into getting a cheap ultrasonic cleaner and follow the instructions. It will do a great job of dislodging dirt and debris, even from otherwise impossible-to-reach places.
Note that an ultrasonic won’t remove tarnish, but it will work a treat with complex pieces (exceptions below) which have lots of crevices where dirt can accumulate and stick.
If your silver jewelry has blackened or patinated areas as part of the design or features soft gemstones like opals, lapis lazuli, turquoise, or pearls then avoid ultrasonic cleaning to be on the safe side.
This process can damage some finishes and soft gemstones, so use it with caution.
Sterling silver in particular will tarnish over time, but other precious metals can as well, including lower carats of gold. This is a normal process with metal and the tarnish is easy enough to clean off precious metals.
If your precious metal jewelry is tarnished, use a precious metal jewelry cleaning cloth to remove it, such as the professional quality polishing cloths we have available in our online store.
Once you’re happy, give the piece a rinse and carefully dry it to remove any chemical residue.
You can also use a silver dip very quickly and easily removing tarnish from sterling silver. It particularly works well with silver chains which can be difficult to clean with a polishing cloth alone.
You should be able to find a silver dip or similar at your local supermarket, larger pharmacy, or hardware shop. Otherwise, try a local jewelry shop.
Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and always rinse well and dry when you’re done.
As with an ultrasonic cleaner, if your silver jewelry has blackened areas as part of the design or soft gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise or pearls then avoid silver dip to be on the safe side as it may damage some finishes and gemstones.
Never use ‘old wives’ jewelry cleaning methods involving toothpaste or baking soda paste which is rubbed onto the metal. These methods will remove tiny amounts of metal every time you do it and over time it will damage and deplete your precious jewelry.
In particular, jewelry that is gold vermeil, gold-filled, or plated should never be cleaned in this way or it will be damaged. Learn more about different types of gold jewelry to better understand why this will be the case.
Also take care when using a polishing cloth, brush, or anything else which is rubbed against the metal, particularly if your jewelry has a more delicate finish, such as gold plating, blackening, or a patina.
Too much enthusiasm with jewelry cleaning may not be a good thing!
If your necklace has silk thread (like our very popular forget-me-nots silk necklace) it can also be washed in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse.
Lay the piece flat or hang it up to dry the silk should straight. Otherwise use an iron on the silk setting to straighten it out.
Now your jewelry is nice and clean, have a think about how best to store it to avoid needing to clean it again too soon.
Avoid storing precious metal jewelry in a humid place – especially the bathroom – as it will speed up tarnishing. If you live in a humid location, then extra care should be taken and more frequent cleaning undertaken.
Ideally, precious metal jewelry should be stored away from free-flowing air. This will also slow down tarnish, plus it will help keep dust at bay. Keep it in a pouch, small jewelry box, or similar if you can.
If you like having your jewelry on display, then be aware that it’s likely to need a clean more often, so keep an eye on it.
Another key point is that metal rubbing against metal, harder gemstones or other hard surfaces will cause it to get scratched. To avoid scratching, do your best to keep your precious metal jewelry stored individually and so that beads or chains don’t rub against pendants.
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