Whether your ring is brand new or you’re picking it up from a repair job, I know you love that fresh-from-the-store sparkle, right? But even though a professional cleaning is often free, it can be hard to make room in a busy schedule to drop by a jewelry store. So here are some tips for cleaning your fine jewelry at home.
First, consider what your ring, earrings, or necklace is made of. If it’s gold or platinum with diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, there will be fewer potential mishaps to worry about. Other metals and stones, like sterling silver, emeralds, opals, and tanzanites to name a few, can be more delicate and easily damaged.
This is really the most important part of keeping your fine jewelry beautiful. Though most people forget this, you should bring any piece that you wear regularly for inspection by your jeweler every 6 months. This way most damage and wear can be repaired before it becomes too much of a problem. Store each piece so that it is not touching another to help prevent scratching.
Do not wear gold, especially white gold, into the pool or hot tub or when you have your hands in caustic chemicals like bleach. Chlorine and other elements can attack the bonds in gold alloys, making them brittle and leading to cracking and breaking. When you wash your hands or apply lotion, remove your rings or at least wash and dry them separately. Lotion and other products leave behind a film that dulls the metal and stones. Water trapped under rings can cause contact dermatitis, which results in redness and/or peeling of the skin. Establish a set place to put your rings every time you take them off if you are concerned about misplacing them.
Cleaning gold/platinum jewelry
You have several options here. The most inexpensive method is to just use a soft toothbrush and warm water and (optionally) a gentle hand soap to lightly clean away debris and built-up deposits. Believe it or not, Windex also works very well to clean jewelry! Follow with a rinse in warm or hot water and dry thoroughly with a lint-free cloth before wearing. You may wish to do the cleaning in a bowl or basin rather than directly in the sink in case the cleaning dislodges a loose stone you didn’t notice. Check your jewelry carefully before cleaning and, if you do have a loose stone, take directly to your trusted local jeweler for repair.
Alternatively, you could purchase a bottle of jewelry-cleaning solution or a home version of an ultrasonic cleaner. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Never put porous stones like emerald, opal, pearl, onyx, or turquoise in the solution. Do not put those stones or tanzanite or amber in the ultrasonic device. When in doubt, allow your jeweler to clean those items.
Cleaning sterling silver
Silver requires a different type of cleaning solution from gold and platinum because it can tarnish, unlike those metals. If your silver has no stones and is not heavily tarnished, a bottle of solution that specifically states that it is for silver should work just fine. There are also cleaning cloths available that are treated with polishing rouge and suitable for restoring shine to most fine jewelry. Windex is a safe cleaner for silver as well.
Pearls are very soft and require special care to keep their luster. The silk used to string pearls should never get wet, as that can weaken it. Instead, wipe the pearls gently with a slightly damp cloth after wear. Being worn is actually good for your pearls, although hairspray and perfume are not! Remember the old adage and make them the last thing you put on before stepping out the door and the first you remove when coming home.