Just like our skin and clothing, jewelry is affected by light, heat, and chemicals. Daily wear also exposes our treasures to dirt and buildup. Fortunately, most fine jewelry responds slowly to these environmental factors. However, regular care and cleaning at home are still important. Jewelry needs our attention to keep it looking its best. Like washing your favorite sweater though, some pieces require special attention. For example, think of pearls and opals like cashmere – they need specific care. Consult your jeweler if you’re unsure how to clean specific pieces of jewelry and they can offer guidance. This article by the International Gem Society is also a great resource for cleaning specific gemstones.
For most gold, silver, and gemstone jewelry, all you need for at-home cleaning is:
- a soft toothbrush
- a small dish of warm water
- Dawn dish soap
- a soft cloth
- optional: a jeweler’s loupe and a jewelry polishing cloth
Before you begin cleaning, use a jeweler’s loupe or magnifying glass to check for loose stones, worn prongs, and broken clasps to ensure you don’t lose any pieces in the cleaning process.
At The Jewelbox, we only use blue Dawn dish soap as it’s gentle, yet highly effective. Add some Dawn to a small dish with warm water. The dirtier your jewelry, the more blue your water should be to start. Let your jewelry soak for 1-3 minutes. It’s good practice to work on one piece at a time to avoid a reaction between different metals. Using a soft toothbrush, gently remove grit and grime from crevices and around prongs. Rinse in a bowl of fresh water or under the faucet over a mesh stainer (just in case). Dry with a soft cloth and shine with a polishing cloth if you have one. They make polishing cloths for gold and silver, so be sure to use the correct one for your piece.
After cleaning, use the loupe or magnifying glass to check for chips, cracks in stones, and any other repairs that might be required. Regular maintenance will avoid heartache and keep your fine jewelry looking amazing for generations. Think of it like our own annual health checkups – jewelry needs regular check ups for deep cleaning and repairs. Tip: Schedule one the same time you schedule your own yearly checkup.
Jewelry should be stored away from humidity as it can make metal tarnish faster. Chemicals in perfumes and creams can also increase tarnishing, so put your jewelry on last. It’s the cherry on top!