How to clean jewelr

date: 11/9/2011

Jewelry cleaning requires a basic familiarity with the properties of materials such as silver, gold and precious stones. Accordingly, you can choose the right and safest way for cleaning jewelry and ensure its integrity.

The most popular precious metals are silver and gold. These metals belong to the noble metals family and are known for their non-rusting quality. Noble metals, unlike the iron metals are relatively soft and, therefore, can be processed in to an endless variety of shapes and forms. For example, one gram of gold can be flattened in to a kilometer long thread!

Before you start

It is important to be aware of some key features of silver, gold and various stones before starting the cleaning process:

  1. Sometimes, a piece of jewelry might break, get scratched or bended if used without the proper level of carefulness. This applies especially to delicate jewelry or one that is set with gems. Gold in particular, can get scratched more easily as the carat level goes up.
  2. The effects of certain substances and solutions on silver, gold and precious stones might sometimes change the color of the metal or damage the stones. The most common substances are: perfume (can affect specific stones), chlorine and sulfur (found in quite a lot of cosmetic products). In addition, sunlight or high humidity can also affect jewelry, especially if made from silver – a metal much more sensitive than gold (it’s color could be changed from white to completely black and vice versa).
  3. Typically, you cannot damage and / or ruin gold and silver by the various substances generally found in most homes. Therefore, even if a dramatic change of color occurred, it is always possible to go back to original color of the jewel.
  4. However, specific stones such as pearls, turquoise, coral, amber and archaeological (Roman)  glass are more sensitive, so, different substances can, at times, cause them irreversible damage.

Preventive care

The cleaning method must match the type of jewelry and how fine it is.

  1. It is important to properly and neatly store the jewelry that is not in use (after all, it costs quite a lot). Keep each piece in its own little box (you can save the packing boxes in which it was purchased). This way, the jewelry is protected from dirt, oxidation and scratches.
  2. Chains (especially fine ones) - always close the lock before storing; otherwise, the chain gets "mysteriously" entangled. If that happens to one or several chains, you can try to undo the knots by using a pair of tweezers or fine pins.
  3. It is best to take the jewelry off before going to sleep because an incautious move may harm it.
  4. Never clean jewelry over a sink- it might slide straight down the drain and disappear.
  5. Do not attempt removing “stubborn” dirt with sharp tools such as a knife, needle, etc. You can easily scratch the metal or knock a stone out.

How to clean jewelry  

Relatively smooth jewelry or/and without stones can be polished by a simple flannel cloth or a flannel cloth containing a special solution for cleaning gold and silver.

When cleaning fine jewelry (such as filigree designs) or jewelry set with stones, it is recommended to "ease in to it":

  • Step one: Gently clean the jewelry using a soft toothbrush and some liquid soap (provided that the stones are set, not glued) and rinse with water. This usually helps to remove remnants of hand cream, various impurities and oxidation.
  • Step two: There are special solutions for silver and gold - Simply submerge the piece in the solution for 3 seconds (or according to manufacturer's instructions), remove, rinse with water and dry. It is very important not to use these solutions when cleaning jewelry set with certain stones such as: pearls, amber, coral etc. as they tend to absorb the solution and it might damage them.
    For gold-plated silver jewelry with no stones use silver cleaning solution.
  • Step three: Fill a small pitcher with water; put a teaspoon of washing powder and heat on the stove. When it comes to a boil put in the jewelry (only if the stones are set, not glued and these are not the sensitive stones mentioned above). Let the water boil for a minute or two, carefully remove the jewelry, wipe gently with a cloth or towel. You can even use a hair dryer to thoroughly dry the jewelry to prevent oxidation (on silver jewelry).
  • Step four: Another "dry cleaning” method of removing the oxidation from any kind of jewelry and matte finish jewelry in particular is to go through it with a simple eraser. Do not use this method on jewelry with stones set by small prongs (claws) or very fine jewelry.

Do not attempt to clean jewelry while wearing it!

At any stage, please contact a professional if you are unsure of the best way of cleaning your jewelry or if there is a concern that the cleaning process might harm it. We have professional tools for renewing and cleaning jewelry safely.


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