Owning fine jewelry is one thing, but caring for it properly is another. It’s important to know how to clean your fine jewelry 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 jewelry pieces.
Different Pieces, Different Techniques
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 or silver piece with a gemstone, follow the cleaning instructions for the gemstones, not the metal, as gemstones are more delicate.
Soak the gold jewelry in warm water with a mild detergent solution for one to three minutes. Next, gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush or jewelry brush to remove dirt and grime. Carefully rinse the gold piece in warm water to remove the detergent, then dry with a soft jewelry or flannel cloth.
To clean tarnish off of silver, create an inexpensive silver dip solution by lining a small bowl with aluminum foil. Place the silver piece in the bowl and cover it completely with a small amount of baking soda. Pour hot water over the jewelry and wait for the bubbling to stop. After the solution has stopped bubbling, rinse and buff the piece dry with a soft cloth. Repeat the process several times for badly tarnished pieces.
To clean silver jewelry containing gemstones, soak the piece in a solution of mild detergent and warm water for one to three minutes. Then gently buff small sections of the jewelry without touching the gemstones. Rinse and dry. If the piece is heavily tarnished, it may require a special silver cleaning paste or professional cleaning.
As most gemstones are porous and delicate, create a solution of warm soapy water with a small amount of baby soap. For harder gemstones (diamonds and rubies), gently scrub away additional grime. Rinse completely and dry. For softer gemstones (opals and corals), wet a soft cloth and clean the gemstone rather than soaking it.
For diamonds not in a metal setting, gently clean the diamond with a solution of ammonia and water. For diamonds in metal settings, soak the piece in a solution of warm water and mild detergent for two to five minutes. Gently scrub the diamond with a soft toothbrush or jewelry brush. Then, rinse the diamond in warm water to remove remaining detergent. Buff the diamond dry with a soft cloth.
Before cleaning a pearl necklace, make sure the pearls are secure. Rub each pearl gently with a soft jewelry or cotton cloth, as pearls can scratch easily. For visibly dirty pearls, create a solution of warm water and mild baby soap. Dip a soft cloth in the solution and gently wipe pearls clean. Don’t submerge pearls in water.
Preparing Fine Jewelry to Be Cleaned
Here are some things to do before you start cleaning:
- 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 they may cause light scratching during the cleaning process.
- Do not use harsh, abrasive cleaners such as chlorine and ammonia, especially on opaque or soft gemstones. Porous stones will absorb the chemicals and damage the stones. 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.