How to clean Jewelry

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Over time the natural oils from your skin, air born contaminants, moisture and corrosion will tarnish the shine and luster of your jewelry. There are a few simple cleaning tips which can drastically improve the condition of your favorite pieces. Different metals and stones require different cleaning techniques so please ensure you are following the relevant instructions. If your gold or silver jewelry contains softer porous gemstones you should follow the cleaning instructions for the gemstones and not the metal, these gemstones are quite sensitive and can be damaged easily.

A must before you start cleaning
How to clean Gold Jewelry
How to clean Silver Jewelry
How to clean Diamonds
How to clean Opals
How to clean Gemstones
Things to avoid when cleaning
When jewelry should be professionally cleaned

A must before you start cleaning

Check the setting of your jewelry to ensure it is secure and well fastened. If you begin scrubbing a loose stone you may damage or even lose a piece. Remove any dust from both the jewelry and cleaning clothes. The dust may cause light scratching during the cleaning process. If you don’t own a jewelry cloth, use a cotton or flannel cloth and shake it well to remove loose dust.

How to clean Gold Jewelry

Soak your gold jewelry in a mild detergent and warm water solution for 1-3 minutes. You should avoid chlorine and ammonia as both can discolor the metal. Remove and gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush or jewelry brush to remove any remaining grime. Now carefully rinse the gold jewelry in warm water to remove the detergent solution. Next thoroughly dry the gold jewelry with your cloth, any remaining moisture will dull the shine of the gold.

How to clean Silver Jewelry

There are two ways to easily remove the buildup of tarnish from your silver jewelry. If you live in a humid climate your silver jewelry will tarnish quickly and you’ll need to clean it quite regularly. We are going to create an inexpensive silver dip solution. The silver dip works by creating a chemical reaction which removes tarnish. It is a great technique for cleaning silver chains which are difficult to clean by hand. You must not under any circumstances place any type of gemstones in the solution, it may permanently damage the stone. Firstly find a bowl or large cup and line the sides with aluminum foil. Next place your jewelry inside the lined cup or bowl. Cover the jewelry with a small amount of baking soda, just enough so you can barely see the jewelry. Next pour hot water over the jewelry and wait for the bubbling to stop. After the solution has stopped bubbling rinse and buff the silver jewelry dry with your cloth. You may need to repeat the process up to 5-6 times for badly tarnished pieces. Please also be careful to keep yourself away from any fumes and ensure the room is well ventilated before starting. To clean silver jewelry which contains gemstones create a solution of mild detergent and warm water. Now gently buff small sections of the jewelry taking care not to touch the gemstone. Rinse and dry to complete the process. If the jewelry is heavily tarnished or still requires cleaning you may require a specialized silver cleaning paste or professional cleaning. Keep in mind that the harsher the cleaner the more likely your jewelry will be damaged.

How to clean Diamonds

Over time diamonds begin to look cloudy and lose the natural sparkle and shine that makes them so attractive. The good news is that a quick clean on all but the dirtiest diamonds will restore the original shine and luster. Ammonia solutions are effective at cleaning diamonds but will eventually remove the color from most metals so unless your diamonds are not set in any metals we suggest you avoid cleaning in an Ammonia solution. Dip the diamonds jewelry in a warm solution of water and mild detergent for approximately 2-5 minutes. Next gently scrub the diamond with a soft toothbrush or jewelry brush if you have one. After scrubbing rinse the diamond in warm water to remove any remaining detergent. Buff the diamond dry with your cloth.

How to clean Opals

Opals are relatively soft, porous and usually quite thin (and fragile). The following cleaning tips are only useful for removing small amounts of grime. If your opal has lost its original shine and luster you should definitely visit an opal specialist and have your opals professional cleaned. To remove light amounts of grim with a mild warm soap water solution gently scrub your opal with a soft brush. Rinse the opal and buff dry with your cloth.

How to clean Pearls

If you’re cleaning a pearl necklace please ensure the pearls are secure before cleaning. Create a warm solution of soapy water, use small amount of baby soap. Baby soap is gentle and more importantly PH neutral, abrasive soaps will easily damage your pearls. Place the peals in the solution for a minute or so and then rub the pearl dry with your cloth. When cleaning pearls you really need to avoid any form of abrasion. Use only soft cotton or jewelry cloth and gentle soaps.

How to clean Gemstones

The majority of gemstones are best cleaned using the same method as Pearls. You may also use a soft tooth brush on hard gemstones to gently scrub away additional grime. You should avoid soaking porous (softer opaque) gemstones instead just wet another cotton or jewelry cloth and clean the gemstone. It’s important to dry the gemstone completely to remove any remaining chemicals from the cleaning process. Ultrasonic cleaners will work well for harder gemstones but may cause cracking on softer gemstones, for this reason we suggest taking your jewelry to a professional for heavier cleaning.

Things to avoid when cleaning

  • Many metals and softer gemstones can be easily damaged by abrasive chemicals in certain cleaners. This is why it is always best to start your cleaning with relatively gentle methods before tackling any remaining grime and tarnish.
  • Do not clean your jewelry over a sink or you may find yourself frantically sourcing a plumber.
  • Rough cloths may scratch metals and softer stones, use soft lint free cloths only.
  • Do not under any circumstances use harsh chemicals on gemstones which are porous. Porous stones will absorb the chemicals and damage your stones. Porous gemstones are opaque gemstones like Pearls, Turquoise and Opals.
  • Cleaning expensive vintage jewelry is probably a job best left to the professionals.
  • Do not use pins, tweezers or other sharp objects to remove small particles of grime, you will only scratch the metal setting of your jewelry.

When jewelry should be professionally cleaned

Antique or delicate jewelry should nearly always be cleaned by a professional jeweler. Certain metals will naturally change color over time and so your antique jewelry may not be as dirty as you think. Silvers in particular tend to become slightly darker over time, this is not always tarnish which requires cleaning. Professional jewelry cleaning is often complimentary and if not is very inexpensive. A professional jeweler will also inspect and repair any loose settings which may cause problems down the track. Professional jewelers also have access and knowledge of a wide range of dedicated and specialized cleaning methods and chemicals which are much more effective than the methods described above.

Jewelry Care

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Try to protect any jewelry from scratches, sharp blows, harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures and sunlight. With the proper care, the jewelry you purchase today can become a part a treasured family heirloom.

Following are some tips on how to keep your jewelry in good condition:

  • Store jewelry separately so it doesn’t scratch other jewelry. Wrap each piece in fine fabric, or use a jewelry box with individual storage compartments. A diamond can scratch gold or pearls.
  • When doing household tasks such as gardening and cleaning, be certain to remove rings.
  • Put your jewelry on after washing and applying any makeup, cosmetics or hair spray.
  • Take off your jewelry before cleaning or participating in athletic activities, especially while swimming in a swimming pool. The chlorine can cause damage to various gemstones and gold. Gemstones may become loose in their settings (and possibly fall out).
  • Avoid storing your jewelry next to a heating vent, window sill or on a car dashboard. Sunlight can cause many colored gemstones to fade.
  • Always store bead necklaces (such as lapis, pearls, etc) flat as silk stretches over time. Also, this avoid kinks and knotting various chains together.
  • Always be gentle with your jewelry. Never tug on gem settings or toss your pieces carelessly in a pile-you may loosen your gem settings, and your pieces may wind up nicked and scratched.
  • Simple home cleaning methods can be just as effective as consumer cleaning products. Use a chamois cloth or pure white cotton to clean and polish gold pieces, and if your gold tarnishes, wash it with a bit of gentle soap mixed with lukewarm water and a small amount of ammonia

Hardness is based on a gem-trade standard called the Mohs scale. The higher the Mohs scale number, the harder the stone is. The highest Mohs scale rating is 10 (diamonds). Anything with a Mohs scale rating of less than 7 is easily scratched (such as coral, lapis lazuli, opal, pearl, and turquoise). Gold, silver, and platinum are only Mohs 2-1/2 to 4. Always carefully store any fine jewelry.

Periodically check the prongs that hold the diamonds or colored gemstones in place. Be certain that stones mounted in rings are not loose or rattle. The prongs of a ring can and do wear down. If the prongs wear down too much or break, you’ve lost the stone. Prongs are easily “re-tipped” by most jewelers to keep the stone secure.