How to Clean Fine Jewelry: Steps for Cleaning at Home

What should you know before cleansing your jewelry?  There are so many remedies to choose from.  Alcohol, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, or soap and water?  What’s the best solution?  The search for the right remedy can be tiresome.  Experts have provided the following tips to ensure the best cleaning and care for all your precious stones and fine metal jewelry.

Know Your Cleaning Methods:

  1. Using toothpaste as a cleaning method is basically an old wives’ tale. True, it will make your metals and gems shinier, but toothpaste can be harsh and there are much better cleaning solutions out there.  Never use toothpaste on your fine jewelry.
  2. You can use baking soda and water to remove tarnish from your sterling silver jewelry. Combine the baking soda with just enough water to make a paste and use that to remove tarnish. Polishing cloths may also be used for the same purpose.  The easiest method is to use a dip, which can be purchased at any jewelry counter for about $5.  It takes only a few seconds and your sterling pieces come out sparking with no rubbing required.
  3. Rather than using vinegar, Windex, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide, you’ll be better off taking some warm water and mixing Mr. Clean and a small amount of ammonia. This is a homemade recipe for professional jewelry cleaner and you’ll find it works as if your jewelry has been cleaned by a professional.

Steps For Cleaning Your Jewelry At Home:

Remember that the best solution is always to have a professional clean your jewelry. If you’ve got a treasured or particularly tarnished piece of jewelry, take it to a professional. However, if your jewelry isn’t too tarnished, you can experience success by cleaning at home using the following tips.

  1. For best results for ring cleaning, polish the ring first with a polishing cloth. Polishing cloths can be easily found and purchased inside any jewelry store. You’ll also find them at jewelry counters inside department stores and supermarts, such as Wal-Mart. Simply rub the ring with the polishing cloth. The cloth will cause a chemical reaction that polishes the ring and removes light scratches and tarnishing resulting in a brightly renewed, polished finish.  Don’t worry if the polishing cloth turns black; the blackness is a result of the chemical reaction, not dirt. You may continue to use your polishing cloth even after it turns completely black.
  2. Check to see if your stones are still securely set in all of your jewelry pieces. To do this, take each piece and try to gently wiggle each stone. You should do this before cleaning your jewelry to ensure you won’t lose any stones while cleaning your jewelry.
  3. Next, soak your jewelry in either a purchased jewelry cleaner or a homemade jewelry cleaner made with water, Mr. Clean, and ammonia. Mix equal parts of Mr. Clean and water in a small bowl. Add in a small amount of ammonia. This mixture is just as good as jewelry cleaner and is safe for delicate pearls, emeralds, and opals. Soak your jewelry for 15 minutes. For best results, forgo the small bowl and purchase an ultrasonic instead. You can find ultrasonics for sale online or in your local jewelry store.
  4. Use a soft toothbrush to clean your rings. Don’t scrub too hard. Be gentle to avoid knocking a stone loose. Clean your ring over a cloth in order to catch the stone if it should fall out.
  5. Rinse in cold water.
  6. Dry with a soft towel. You can also use compressed air or steam.

General Tips:

  1. Never clean your jewelry with chlorine or bleach. These chemicals are harmful and can cause your jewelry to crack. Avoid contact with these chemicals while wearing jewelry. Remember to always remove jewelry before swimming in a pool. Hair stylists should also remove their jewelry before doing color treatments.
  2. If you live in a humid climate, be prepared to do more polishing and cleaning. Jewelry tarnishes quicker in a humid climate.
  3. Remember that the best way to clean your jewelry is by going to a professional. Most stores will clean your jewelry for free (though polishing may cost extra). The jeweler will soak your jewelry in an ultrasonic, which uses small sonic vibrations to loosen dirt. Sometimes an ultrasonic may cause loose stones to fall out of its setting and the jeweler may charge a fee to reset the stones. Always remember that it’s much better to have your stones fall out in a contained setting like an ultrasonic, otherwise your precious stone can fall out while being worn and may potentially be lost forever.
  4. Opals will start to crack over time. Try soaking the opal jewelry in baby oil for a day or two. This can sometimes make the cracks disappear.
  5. Do not clean your jewelry in a sink, where your jewelry could fall down the drain.
  6. If you have jewelry with soot from a fire, try to polish and clean it yourself. If you still see soot under the stones, you will need to have the stones removed and cleaned by a professional.
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