The best way to bring back luster to any piece of jewelry is to use a jewelry polishing cloth that can be easily purchased at most jewelry stores, online, and at many drugstores. A jewelry polishing cloth can last for years. For those more delicate pieces, have a professional jeweler steam clean or use an ultrasonic cleaner. Don’t attempt to clean the piece yourself, especially if set with a gemstone(s). Gems are easily damaged by ultrasonic cleaners, so you could end up with a worthless gemstone by trying to save a few bucks by doing things yourself. When in doubt, take your jewelry to a professional.
BUT not every piece of jewelry needs to be taken to a professional because there are safe cleaning methods you can do yourself at home, such as these:
Silver can be cleaned using one part ammonia and one part water. Take a small soft toothbrush or nail brush to gently remove any dirt or oil in conjunction with the ammonia and water solution. Next, allow the silver to air dry. After the jewelry has dried, you can then buff and polish silver jewelry with a lint-free cloth and store for the next use. While silver jewelry can be cleaned in the same way as gold, it is important to refrain from chlorine when cleaning and in between cleanings, as chlorine tarnishes silver products.
Slow Down the Tarnishing of Silver
Store your jewelry in a plastic zip top bag. Be sure to remove all air from the bag. Add a “pillow” of desiccant to the zip top bag. These pillows are found in your new shoes, purses and other leather items. They are usually, Silica sand or Silica beads that absorb moisture; making the air inside a sealed bag, etc. very dry, thus substantially slowing down the tarnish development when jewelry item isn’t being worn.
Gold and Gemstone Jewelry
For untarnished jewelry, mix a few drops of mild dish detergent with warm water, and scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush. If it’s tarnished, mix a few drops of ammonia into soapy water, submerge the jewelry and carefully brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse it with lukewarm water and allow it to dry. Avoiding chlorine is a key to keeping gold jewelry looking good.
If you have pieces crafted of gold or gemstones including diamonds, the best option to prevent scratching while concurrently cleaning the jewelry is to use isopropyl alcohol in 70-percent strength and water. Take one part alcohol and one part water and allow the pieces to soak for two to three hours. After soaking the jewelry, take a small and very soft toothbrush and use circular motions to clean away remaining dirt or particles. Rinse thoroughly with water and allow to air dry. After each piece has dried, you can then opt to polish the jewelry with a lint-free cloth and store for the next use.
Copper Jewelry Cleaning Tips
Copper is the easiest metal to clean! Here are a few copper cleaning tips (do not use with gemstones or pearl set jewelry), you can use any of these acid based household products:
- Vinegar – (White, Apple Cider, Wine, Balsamic) Place the item in a glass or plastic container (not metal). Pour enough vinegar until it completely covers the piece. Let stand four about 10-15 minutes. Rinse. Dry. Done!
- Lemon or Lime Juice – Follow the directions used above for vinegar…add a dash of salt.
- Worcestershire Sauce or Ketchup Apply it with a toothbrush or soft cloth, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid getting ketchup on gemstones that should not be used with chemical cleaners.
The best option when cleaning pearls is to only use a damp lint-free cloth to gently lift away any dirt or residue that the pearls may have accumulated. Next, take a small drop of mineral oil or olive oil to restore the shine. Finally, take a lint-free cloth and wipe away any remaining oil residue and store for the next use.
Another option is to wash them in 1 teaspoon of Woolite diluted in 1 quart of water. Immerse them for 10 to 15 seconds, wipe with a soft cotton cloth and lay flat to dry. Store them in a cotton bag—never plastic—separate from other jewelry. To ensure that they stay lustrous, think outside the jewelry box: wearing them regularly will keep them polished, thanks to your body’s natural oils. When you take them off, wipe them with a dry cotton cloth.
NEVER place pearls in any type of ammonia or vinegar solution, ultrasonic or steam cleaners, or use any type of abrasives like a toothbrush to clean them. Remove your pearls to apply makeup, hairspray or perfume as the acids can degrade and ruin your pearls. If you wear your pearls often, it’s a good idea to have them restrung every year or so. Are your pearls real? Usually if they have a knot tied in between each pearl, they are genuine.
The best way to clean a diamond is with warm soapy water and a soft-bristle brush or old toothbrush. Pat it dry with a soft cloth. You may have heard that using toothpaste gets your diamond to sparkle; it’s not a great idea. While toothpaste won’t harm the diamond, it is abrasive enough to harm the softer metals next to the diamond, like silver, so it is not recommended.
Clean your turquoise in warm, sudsy water and dry it immediately with a soft cloth. Don’t submerge the stone in water—it is very porous and liquids can easily seep in and cause discoloration. Avoid commercial jewelry cleansers, as they can also discolor the stone.
Although your costume jewelry may not contain any precious metals like gold or silver or any actual gemstones, many of these pieces are simulated stones and are usually composed of metal. Therefore, it is important to use as little water as possible when cleaning.
Instead, opt for a damp cloth with two drops of water and two drops of isopropyl alcohol in 70-percent strength, and polish the jewelry using a buffing motion. Next, take a small amount of water to rinse the jewelry. Allow the jewelry to air dry, and store for the next use thereafter. The next cleaning should only involve polishing with a lint-free cloth to remove any dirt or residue, as excessive use of water and other products may cause this jewelry to turn green.
General jewelry care tips
– NEVER allow jewelry to come in contact with oils, soaps, perfumes, or any harsh chemicals which can fade or even ruin the item.
– ALWAYS remove jewelry before sports, swimming, exercising, washing hands, showering, cleaning, doing laundry, or applying lotions or creams.
– NEVER store jewelry wet. Always dry with a soft cloth before storing.
– When cleaning, be gentle! Use a soft toothbrush and jewelry cleaner that specifically states that it is safe for costume jewelry. Make sure it does not contain acid, alcohol, or ammonia. Only use jewelry cleaner as directed. DO NOT over scrub.
– Store jewelry in a plastic ziploc bag or soft jewelry pouch away from other objects and jewelry items to avoid scratching.
– Store jewelry in a clean, dry, cool, not cold place away from heat and dust.
– Use a jewelry cloth for buffing.
– Regularly check for loose stones.