Keeping your jewelry shiny and sparkling doesn’t have to be a difficult or costly exercise.
In fact, you can clean your jewelry at home and achieve professional looking results using readily available supplies such as mild dishwashing soap, toothpaste, a soft toothbrush or makeup brush, and vinegar.
Although for some delicate pieces, you will need to visit a professional jeweler for cleaning and inspection, there are many types of jewelry that can be cleaned effectively at home. To keep your jewelry sparkling, it is important to know the proper methods for cleaning each type of jewelry.
If you want to keep your jewelry looking dazzling, below are methods for proper handling and cleaning that you can do at home to achieve professional quality jewelry cleaning results.
If you store your silver jewelry, humidity and long storage will cause silver pieces to tarnish due to oxidation. If you want to remove this dark black hue easily, be sure to clean the piece as soon you notice the oxidization. However, an oxidized piece of silver can always be cleaned to a sparkling shine at any time, but with a little more effort. If the silver piece is difficult to clean due to embedded stones, or if it is a cherished antique piece, it is recommended to have it professionally cleaned by a jeweler.
Fortunately, there are a several methods to clean silver jewelry and restore its luster and shine.
- A quick and effective method of restoring the shine to silver is the use of a liquid silver jewelry cleaner. Many silver cleaners come with a tray to place your jewelry in. Gently swirl it around for about 10 seconds and remove. Rinse it with water and dry with a soft cloth or paper towel. You will be amazed every time your silver jewelry is restored in seconds to its original shine. Be forewarned, however, that the silver jewelry cleaner smells like rotten eggs.
- Another method of removing the tarnish on your silver jewelry is by buffing it with a silver polishing cloth. You can purchase a polishing cloth online or from a jeweler. A polishing cloth is a great option for silver that is embedded with pearls or other delicate stones that cannot be submerged in a liquid silver jewelry cleaner.
- Another method of polishing your silver jewelry at home is with toothpaste. Squeeze a small amount of toothpaste on a soft toothbrush, a cloth, or a paper town, and rub the tarnished areas gently. Allow the paste a few minutes to work on the tarnish before washing it off. Rinse thoroughly and wipe with a soft cloth to dry.
- Windex is also another product you can use to clean your tarnished silver. Just spray it on and wipe it off with a soft material. If the piece has some dirt lodged in the small crevices of the piece, you could brush the edges with a soft-bristled brush. Then, rinse with lukewarm water and wipe dry with a clean cloth. You may polish the piece with the polishing cloth to restore its luster.
You may notice that your copper jewelry and your skin may turn green after several hours of wearing copper jewelry. This discoloration is caused by oxidation and occurs when the copper reacts with air, sweat, and body oils. In fact, this is one way to confirm that copper jewelry is made from pure copper. To clean the green discoloration from your skin, wash your skin with soap and water.
Fortunately, it is easy to clean copper jewelry with an acidic solution, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or ketchup. Below are several methods on how to clean copper jewelry and restore the gorgeous brilliant shine of copper.
- Lemon Juice. Place the jewelry in a small bowl and squeeze enough lemon juice to cover the copper jewelry. Sprinkle salt on the piece and leave it for about 20 minutes for the dirt to breakdown. Use your fingers or a soft cloth to rub the salt into the piece. You may use a soft brush to reach the crevices and edges of the jewelry. Rinse with water and dry the piece with a soft cloth.
- Vinegar. Fill a plastic or glass bowl with white vinegar and cover the piece of copper jewelry. Do not use a metal bowl. Sprinkle table salt on the jewelry and let it sit for a few minutes. Rub in the salt with your fingers, a cloth, or a toothbrush. Let sit for 5-10 minutes and rinse with water and pat dry with a soft cloth.
- Ketchup. Spread ketchup on the copper jewelry with your fingers, a cloth, or a toothbrush. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Rinse with water and pat dry with a soft cloth.
Do NOT use a commercial copper cleaner to clean your copper jewelry. The chemical is too harsh for jewelry and damage your jewelry.
How to prevent copper jewelry from oxidizing?
There are several methods of treating copper jewelry to prevent it from turning green and turning your skin green.
- Coat the side of the copper jewelry that touches your skin with clear nail polish.
- Renaissance Wax is an ideal product to protect your copper jewelry from oxidization and will maintain the beautiful high polish of copper.
Though gold does not tarnish like sterling silver, it can still collect dirt after regular use, which will dullen its surface and deter its prevalent glow.
To clean your gold jewelry at home, it is important to use a mild soap and a soft cloth or brush, as gold can easily scratch.
You will need a solution of dishwashing liquid and warm water, a soft bristled brush, a small bowl, and a soft dry cloth. In the small bowl, place the gold piece then cover it with the warm water and soap solution. Allow the piece to soak for at least 15 minutes. Then, use your brush and scrub the piece gently, concentrating on all visible dirt. Rinse under warm water and wipe dry with the soft cloth.
Diamonds the hardest stones in existence today. Unfortunately, even with their high resistance to scratches and breakage, they can easily get marred by lotions, natural body oils, and cosmetic products on the wearer’s skin. In fact, a simple touch can deprive a diamond jewel its brilliance.
To restore its sparkle, loosen any dirt and grime on the diamond by soaking it for 15 to 20 minutes in a solution of water and mild soap. Use a soft clean brush to scrub, concentrating on the edges and corners that are difficult to reach.
It is important to be gentle on any settings in your diamond jewelry. Tension settings or prongs used in antique diamond jewelry can get damaged during heavy scrubbing. Once through, you can rinse with clean water. Make sure to wipe with a lint-free material before storing.
You can use toothpaste to clean your diamond, however, it should be used on the diamond only and not on the surrounding metal, as this will dullen the metal. Place a small amount of toothpaste on a soft brush, like a soft toothbrush. Gently brush the surface of the diamond and push the bristles down the sides of the diamond.
These methods will restore the brilliant sparkle of your diamond jewelry.
Pearls are delicate and call for careful handling when cleaning. Unfortunately, they collect grime, dust, and other dirt. The beautiful luster of pearls will dullen from dirt caused by lotions, hair products, soaps, and grime caused by daily life.
Do NOT use jewelry cleaners for silver or gold to clean your pearls. Pearls are highly porous and dipping then in these liquids will permanently damage your pearls.
You can restore the luster and iridescence of the pearls by cleaning the pearls with a solution of mild soap and water. Wet a soft material with this solution and buff the pearls gently and dry them with a soft dry cloth.
Pearls should be stored in their own storage compartment and not with other stones or metals, as pearls can be easily scratched.
An important feature of costume jewelry is that it is designed with different materials. This makes it necessary to consider the kind of materials used on your piece before choosing a suitable washing technique. In a costume jewelry design, there could be a semi-precious stone, glass, or crystal. Choose a cleaning agent that is mild enough not to harm even the most sensitive of the materials used on the piece. A safe choice is a mild detergent with warm water.
Apply the liquid solution to a soft brush or cloth and gently rub the piece. Concentrate on the crevices, links, and corners of the piece as most dirt hides here. It is not wise to soak the piece in the jewelry cleaner. Soaking can weaken any adhesives used in the jewelry. Use fresh water to rinse and wipe dry with a clean cloth before storing.
It is challenging to clean your silver or gold jewelry with pearls, especially, when intricate nooks and crannies are involved.
Do NOT use a liquid silver or gold jewelry cleaner to clean your piece with pearls. You may find a silver cleaning solution that suggests it is safe for pearls, however, this is not true. A silver jewelry cleaner will ruin your pearls by removing the outer shiny layer of the pearl.
Your options are to bring the jewelry to a jeweler for professional cleaning, or use a polishing cloth for the silver and a soap and water solution for the pearls. To clean your silver and gold jewelry embedded with pearls, it is important to clean each part separately.
Begin by buffing the silver parts with the silver polishing cloth. Concentrate on dirt that you can clean. For edges and crevices that are difficult to reach, you can place the point of a toothpick in the polishing cloth and twist and turn it to polish this part of the piece.
To clean the pearls, you will need warm water, a small bowl, mild soap, a makeup brush. Make a solution of warm water and mild soap. Next, spread the jewelry on a soft cloth. Wet a soft brush or cloth with this solution and rub it gently against each pearl. Wipe the piece with a soft cloth and leave it open for several minutes to dry.
You can clean your gold-plated jewelry with the same method as cleaning gold jewelry (see How to clean gold jewelry). Gold-plated jewelry is costume jewelry, and is not as durable as a solid gold piece of jewelry. It is made from a base metal and coated with a very thin layer of gold, which can wear off.
Gold-pated jewelry should not come into contact with harsh chemicals or jewelry cleaners, as these can wear out the gold-plating.
Always keep your gold-plated jewelry away from body lotions, hair sprays, and other cosmetics, as they make the pieces appear dull. Do not scrub heavily or bring it in contact with abrasive materials, which may wear off or scratch the gold coating.
Before deciding on the best way to clean your gems, look at the instructions given in a gemstone care guide. This is because each stone is unique and may call for customized cleaning routines using chemicals specially designed for that gem. Nevertheless, a gentle rub with a soft brush immersed in a solution of water and mild detergent is very effective at cleaning precious stones. Wipe it dry with a soft cloth before returning it to its respective storage.
Examples of precious stones on the market today are diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. Each one reacts differently with general cleaning agents. Beware of the level of sensitivity of a gem before subjecting it to any cleaning technique.
Some of the gems considered as semi-precious stones include black onyx, aquamarine, opal, garnet, moonstone, and tourmaline, among others. Just because they are called semi-precious, this doesn’t mean they are of less value. They should be taken care of properly to maintain their shine.
Before you can apply any cleaning agent, make sure you identify the kind of semi precious gem used in your piece. This is because the different gems react differently to water, chemicals, and solutions used for cleaning. Here is a look at how to clean select precious stones;
Aquamarine: if looking for meticulous results in cleaning aquamarine pieces, it could be helpful to bring it to a jeweler for cleaning. However, you can still clean at home and get acceptable results if you use a suitable cleaner. Look for a delicate jewelry cleaner and immerse your piece in it then wait for about 5 minutes. Use a soft-bristled brush to lightly scrub any dirt build-up along the edges. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.
Opal: Opals are among the elusive gems worn in the world today. To keep your piece looking brilliant, wash it with warm water, and mild soap. It is okay to scrub it gently with a soft brush. Of importance is to make sure you control the water temperature, since sudden changes can result in cracks on the surface of the stone.
Moonstone: This is among the fragile stones that can crack or scratch if brought into contact with coarse materials. When washing, only scrub lightly with a soft-bristled brush. You can soak your moonstone jewelry in warm soapy water for about 5 minutes so that the dirt can loosen before scrubbing. Keep away from harsh jewelry cleaners, as these may dullen the surface of your moonstone. Similarly, cleaners with bleaching agents do discolor moonstones.
Tourmaline: This gem has worn the title “king of color” due to its occurrence in numerous hues. It is a hard crystal, thus it is resistant to scratches and breakage, unless subjected to hard blows. These features have made tourmaline a popular gem in most jewelry designs.
If you notice your tourmaline jewelry has become dull, you can restore its vibrant beauty by washing it with most jewelry cleaners. Another alternative is to scrub it gently but firmly with a soft cloth or brush dipped in warm soapy water. Be keen not to subject it to sudden temperature changes as it can break. Dry your tourmaline thoroughly before storing.
Garnet: Garnets are relatively hard and durable. However, they can chip or crack if subjected to hard blows. To keep your garnets shining, wash regularly by rubbing with a soft cloth dampened with a mild jewelry cleaner.
Citrine: citrine is affordable and comes in a variety of colors. This makes it among the popular stones used in jewelry all over the world. You can sustain the beautiful color of citrine for long if you take proper care of it.
It is safe to clean citrine with most jewelry cleaners. In case you do not have any cleaner at home, soak it in a solution of soap and water for at least 15 minutes. Then, scrub gently with a makeup brush. Make sure to rinse thoroughly, then wipe dry with a clean cloth before storing. Do not expose your citrine jewelry to heat or sunlight for long as this can cause it to fade.
Pewter will stay shiny if you keep it away from heat and harsh chemicals. This is why you need to remove your pewter jewelry when engaging in intense physical activities such as exercise, house cleaning, dish washing, and others. Pewter is also a soft metal that can easily bend.
If the pewter jewelry tarnishes, soak it in a warm solution of water and dish soap for about 15 minutes. Use a sponge or soft brush to rub it gently so that the dirt can break off. Rinse under clean water and wipe with a soft cloth to dry.
Platinum doesn’t tarnish, fade, or change color like many metals used in fine jewelry. However, its patina can dullen due to exposure to environmental components. This causes the platinum jewelry to lose its shine.
To restore its sheen, soak in a gentle warm solution of soap and water. After 15 minutes, rub your piece gently with a soft brush. Rinse under warm water and wipe with a soft cloth to dry.
It is useful to note that platinum can take on a natural soft patina due to age. This will look different from the original shiny polish. If you would like the new look, bring your piece to a jeweler for polishing so the soft patina can shine better.
Just like with sterling silver, silver-plated jewelry does tarnish with time. Keep in mind that this type of jewelry has a thin layer of silver covering a non-precious metal. In this case, cleaning should be gentle so that one does not expose the base metal.
The silver oxidizes, or turns black, due to its reaction with atmospheric elements, chemicals in common products, and cosmetics.
To clean your silver-plated jewelry at home, mix a few drops of gentle dishwashing liquid with warm water in a small bowl. Wet a soft cloth with the soapy solution and rub it gently against the jewelry. Keep the piece soaked in the solution as you scrub. Pay attention to the edges and grooves, as most dirt collects here. Rubbing it thoroughly for about 10 minutes should remove most tarnish. Rinse the piece with clean warm water and wipe with a lint-free cloth.
Always store silver-plated items away from moisture. You can enclose it in a re-sealable plastic bag separate from other pieces if you do not have a box specially designed for this piece. This will prevent oxidization resulting from moisture, as well as scratches and other damages caused by contact with abrasive materials.
Roman glass is very delicate and can get damaged very easily. If it comes to contact with chemicals, sweat, or water, it will permanently lose its iridescent prismatic tones. For this reason, Roman glass cannot be cleaned.
To keep your Roman glass jewelry looking beautiful, you will need to keep the gold or silver in the piece clean and shiny. Use a dry cloth or silver polishing cloth and make sure the Roman glass does not come into contact with water or chemicals. Regular cleaning is necessary so that the silver doesn’t oxidize heavily, which would require a harsher cleaning that may damage the Roman glass.
Swarovski crystals may not cost as much as real gemstones, but they are among the top-of-the-shelf jewelry items in the market today. They are delicate and one should take proper care of them, if they are to last for a long time. Hair lotions, sprays, and natural body oils will dullen the Swarovski crystals.
For simple cleaning, use mild dishwashing detergent and water. You can rub it gently with a soft-bristled brush to get rid of the dirt. Use clean water to rinse, then wipe dry with a soft cloth.
For deeper cleaning, look for Swarovski cleaning kits. These come with a specially designed jewelry cleaning cloth, handling gloves, crystal brush, a cleaner, and washing instructions. Follow the given washing guidelines to restore the sparkle in your lovely crystals.
Stainless steel is popular in jewelry for its elegant appearance and durability. Stainless steel doesn’t corrode, however, it is possible for it to collect dirt from chemicals, lotions, and other environmental factors.
To restore its sheen, mix a few drops of mild soap and warm water in a small bowl. Wet a soft or non-abrasive cloth with the solution and use it to wipe the piece. Make sure to follow the grain of the polish on the steel piece. If the jewelry piece has any grooves that are hard to reach with the cloth, use a soft toothbrush to scrub such areas.
Dip another cloth in clean warm water and use it to wipe the traces of soap off the stainless steel piece. Use a soft towel or paper towels to wipe your jewelry dry before returning to its storage box. If possible, polish stainless steel jewelry after cleaning to restore its patina. You can use a jewelry polish or polishing cloth.
It is common for cubic zirconia to be mistaken for diamonds. This is because they are so close to diamonds in terms of their hardness and brilliance. Since it is not a real gem, its price is low and this makes it a good choice for costume jewelry. Natural body oils, lotions, hair sprays and other cosmetics used by the wearer often come into contact with cubic zirconia and can easily dull its surface.
With a solution of soap and warm water, you can restore your cubic zirconia jewelry to its original shine. Scrub gently with a soft brush, taking care of the stone and any settings used on the piece. Rinse thoroughly with clean warm water and pat the stone dry with a clean soft cloth. Wash your cubic zirconia pieces regularly to keep them brilliant for long.
Sea glass has a beautiful frost that many people look for to identify if it is a genuine piece. This appearance can get marred by natural body oils or lotions deposited on the sea glass during handling. To restore the frostiness, one can use a lint free soft material dipped in rubbing alcohol to wipe off the grease. If you want to get rid of the frosty appearance and magnify the color of your sea glass, rub some little amount of mineral or baby oil on the surface.