After you’ve gotten the perfect piece of jewelry, you’ll want to keep up with regular cleaning to maintain your precious metals’ and gems’ luster, shine, and brilliance. Here are a few ways to keep your pieces looking their best without spending a lot of money or using harsh chemicals.
For most pieces of jewelry, the best method is actually the most simple. Just soak your jewelry for about 10 minutes in warm water mixed with a bit of mild dish soap. Brush away the dirt and grime with a soft-bristled toothbrush in all the little crevices and then rinse thoroughly in clean, warm water (rinse well to prevent soap scum from dulling the finish). Buff dry with a soft cloth (like a microfiber cloth or an old T-shirt) or let air dry. Just remember that silver and gold can scratch fairly easily, so don’t rub them with any abrasive products, like toothpaste, baking soda, or rough scrub brushes.
To de-tarnish your silver, stick with a professional silver polish specifically made for sterling silver. Cleaning “tricks” that involve baking soda, tin foil, ketchup, or other chemicals can actually cause scratches or pits to develop in the metal. You might not notice them right away, but over time, your jewelry will become damaged. Regular cleaning, however, should prevent your jewelry from getting tarnished in the first place.
Each gemstone is different, and thus they each have different properties and must be cared for in a different way. Ask your jeweler about any specific stones you have before cleaning, but a mixture of dish soap and water should be safe for most stones. Harder stones such as diamonds and sapphires are okay to let soak in water (they will not absorb any water), but other gems are not so impervious. When it doubt, skip the soak and clean them with a damp cloth or toothbrush.
Pearls and opals are both soft stones and require more gentle methods. Stay away from toothpaste, ammonia, baking soda, vinegar, or anything too acidic or abrasive, as they can scratch or damage your pearls. Warm water with a bit of dish soap will get the job done, but do not let your pearls or opals soak in water. (This can damage your stone as well as cause the string in a pearl necklace to stretch and weaken.) Instead, rub each stone individually with a cloth that has been dipped in the dish soap mixture and let air dry.
When cleaning amber jewelry, don’t treat your amber too roughly or use anything abrasive, as amber is a soft stone and can crack, chip, or scratch. In fact, keeping your amber clean begins by storing it where other pieces won’t be able to scratch them and putting on your amber jewelry after you have applied hairspray and perfume.
When it comes time to clean your amber pieces, simply wiping your gems with a soft, damp cloth should remove any residue. If you feel that you need a bit more “shine,” simply rub a dime-sized amount of olive oil in your hands and then rub the amber stones to impart some of the shine back into the gems. Rub the excess oil off with a soft microfiber or cotton cloth and enjoy your rejuvenated jewelry!
Keep your jewelry pieces cleaner, longer, by removing them before you swim, bathe, apply lotion, etc. Chlorine can discolor your jewelry, while soap scum and lotion residue can leave a grimy film. (This is why you have to rinse well when cleaning!) A few good habits and a regular cleaning schedule will make sure your favorite pieces stay beautiful for a lifetime.