Owning fine gold jewelry is one thing, but caring for it properly is another. It’s important to know how to clean your gold to avoid causing damage and to bring the radiant best out of each piece.
Here are some tips from Empire Jewelers’ experts on how to best clean and care for your favorite fine gold jewelry pieces.
Properties of Gold Jewelry
Pure gold is always 24 karat gold. If your piece is less than 24 karats, this indicates it’s mixed with other metals – called alloys – to increase its hardness and durability.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The more active your lifestyle, the less pure gold you’ll want in your jewelry. Gold is a soft metal and is prone to scratching, so if it is mixed with 10 or more parts of alloy it will increase its longevity.
Before you Begin
Here are some things to do and keep in mind before you start cleaning:
- The simplest method with the least ingredients is always the safest.
- Make sure the setting of your piece is secure and well fastened, so you don’t damage or lose a valuable gemstone during cleaning.
- Use a soft, lint-free jewelry cloth or light cotton cloth to remove dust or other contaminants from the piece, as a harsher cloth may cause light scratching during the cleaning process.
- Do not use harsh, abrasive cleaners such as chlorine; an ammonia solution may be used, only if the gold piece doesn’t have opaque or soft gemstones. Porous stones (opal, coral and turquoise) will absorb the chemicals and become damaged. Use a mild detergent instead.
- Avoid using tweezers, pins or other sharp objects to remove dirt and grime, as this may damage the stone or setting.
- Do not clean your jewelry over a sink, as stones could come loose and fall into the drain pipe.
- If you have an expensive and valuable piece, consider having a professional clean it to avoid damage.
What To Use
A jewelry cleaning solution specifically created for gold is a safe and effective way to keep your gold in tip-top shape. Double check to make sure it indicates gold as an intended use!
Without any commercial products, you can still maintain your shine at home following these steps:
- Mix a bit of Dawn dish detergent in warm — not hot — water.
- Add a few drops of ammonia.
- Carefully brush with a new, baby-size soft toothbrush.
- Place in lukewarm water to rinse.
- Air dry or carefully towel-dry with a paper towel or soft cloth.
Remember: gold is a soft metal. Be gentle during the brushing and drying processes.
Hazards to Avoid
Because of gold jewelry’s high chance of tarnishing, there are a couple specific substances to avoid. While pure gold does not tarnish, almost all gold jewelry is an alloy, as mentioned above. Depending on the percentage of other metals mixed with the gold, there is chance for tarnishing. The following are specific substances to avoid when cleaning. Better safe than sorry!
Certain types of soap – Steer clear of any soap with unknown ingredients. Basic blue Dawn dish soap is fine; remember to remove your gold jewelry before showering to avoid accumulating a film from other body washes.
Chlorine – Chlorine, especially at high temperatures like in a hot tub, can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry. Remember to remove gold rings when cleaning with chlorine bleach, too!
Gold Jewelry with Colored Gemstones
Keep in mind that different precious metals and gemstones require different cleaning techniques, so be sure to follow the cleaning instructions for the type of jewelry you want to clean. If you have a gold piece with a gemstone, follow the cleaning instructions for the gemstones, not the metal, as gemstones are more delicate.
Many natural gemstones are treated or enhanced after extraction, impacting how you should clean your jewelry.
Due to the characteristics of many colored gemstones, we advise asking your jeweler about the safest at-home cleaning method for any pieces with stones other than pure diamonds.
If you need a quick polish before you’ll have a chance to visit your jeweler, skip the ammonia and give your piece a quick dip in the soap and water mixture. This method is safe for almost all colored stone jewelry.
Visiting Your Jeweler
While the method described above is the best way to clean your gold jewelry at home, there’s no substitute for visiting your jeweler for a professional cleaning.
Your jeweler will know the proper procedures depending on the specific type of gemstone and metal, as well as check your item over for any damage. We recommend a semi-annual visit to your local jeweler.
Source: Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group