Tips & tricks on how to properly clean your jewelry
When it comes to caring for your jewelry, there are some things you can do on your own, and there’s other things best left to the professionals. Fortunately, cleaning and taking care of jewelry not only helps keep your pieces looking fresh and sparkly, but also keeps them out of the repair shop and in working order longer.
Many of our customers understand the need for keeping their jewelry clean, but aren’t sure of the best way to go about it. Are specific jewelry cleaners the best? What about household cleaners? Should certain pieces of jewelry be taken to the professionals?
With the wide range in variety of available types and styles of jewelry, from pearl earrings, to engagement rings, to antique heirloom pieces, it’s crucial to understand how to best care for your pieces.
Jewelry cleaning 101: your guide to jewelry cleaning
When cleaning and caring for your jewelry at home, always remember that each metal and gemstone is unique. What works for sterling silver won’t work on pearls, and what works on pearls won’t work on costume pieces.
When cleaning your jewelry, make sure you are using a cleaning solution that is best suited for your jewelry type. There are special solutions for silver, gold, costume pieces, pearl jewelry, and colored stone cleaning.
When it comes to stones, you need to be sure you’re using the correct solution for the right type of stone. That’s because many stones don’t react well to certain jewelry cleaning solutions. So double check that you are using the correct solution; directions are written right on the bottle. For example, you will need to use a delicate jewelry solution for softer stones like opals or emeralds, and jewelry with these stones should not soak in the cleaning solution. Always read the package and make sure you’re cleaning your pieces correctly.
Can I use household cleaners on my jewelry?
When you come into Braunschweiger Jewelers, you will often see us using window cleaner to help customers with a ring that is stuck. This product is often safe for jewelry, but don’t use it regularly to clean your pieces.
Many household cleaners contain chemicals that are abrasive to precious metals and gems. Although that bottle of eco-friendly cleaner under your sink works well on the windows, it may have the opposite effect on your jewelry. This damage may or may not be fixable depending on the damage, but don’t find out the hard way.
We had a customer who cuts hair and often used bleach for hair treatments. Her ring wore through because of the constant contact to products that contained bleach. Parts of her ring disintegrated!
The bottom line: Some household cleaners are safe for your jewelry but not ideal. You wouldn’t use toilet bowl cleaner to clean your counters, so don’t use household cleaners to clean your jewelry.
Polishing cloths and jewelry cleaning
Not all jewelry needs to be cleaned with a fancy solution. In fact, sometimes a simple polishing cloth might be preferable or even required.
Certain types of jewelry should only be cleaned with a polishing cloth. This goes especially for silver jewelry that is oxidized such as items from such designers as John Hardy or David Yurman.
When in doubt, ask a jeweler. Don’t make a mistake and damage a piece because you were unsure. For example, higher-quality sterling silver designers often use a rhodium plating over their silver to prevent tarnishing. You cannot polish these silver pieces like you would jewelry without that coating. Polishing rhodium-plated silver would make it looked scratched, and it would be difficult or impossible to remove those scratches.
After cleaning jewelry
After cleaning your jewelry, be sure to rinse your piece with water and dry it with a non-lint cloth. This will help prevent any skin irritation in case any cleaning solution remains on the jewelery.
Once your item is clean, then what? Is there anything that can be done to prevent items from getting so dirty again so quickly?
Fortunately the answer is yes. Keeping your jewelry clean is easier than you’d think. Here are some simple tips that will help keep your piece cleaner than ever:
Put clean jewelry on last
You might feel naked without your engagement ring, but trust us, put your jewelry on at the very end of getting ready.
If you’re showering, applying makeup or lotion, or using any hair-care products, hold off on putting your jewelry on right away. The less soap, makeup, cream, or any other foreign material on your items, the better. By putting jewelry on last, you’ll help prevent any unwanted substance from getting stuck in prongs, under or behind stones, or in any clasps or locks.
Clean jewelry shouldn’t get sweaty
Don’t wear your jewelry to the gym or while playing sports. Your sweat can react with lotions or perfumes on your body and dull certain metals—especially silver.
The biggest reason is because you don’t want your piece to break. We have customers visit us asking “Why did my jewelry break,” only to learn they’ve been playing tennis while wearing their “lucky bracelet” for several years.
Don’t risk it. I know we all like to look our best whenever we can, but let your jewelry take a breather while you’re exercising.
Summer jewelry care
Who doesn’t love spending a day at the pool, lake, or beach in the summer? Or maybe you travel for the winter and enjoy leisurely activities year-round. Regardless, be careful with your jewelry in and around water.
- Clean jewelry and sunscreen don’t mix. Take your jewelry off before applying sunscreen or lotions. Sunscreen coats gemstones, leaving them dull and discolored. As lotion dries, it gets caught under prongs and stones, collects dirt, and can even force stones out.
- Rinse your jewelry! If you don’t remove your jewelry or clean it right away, some stones can become permanently discolored. Sunscreen saves your skin, but destroys jewelry. Try to rinse off with water and bring to your local jewelers for a cleaning if you get caught in a situation where you can’t remove your jewelry.
- Remember to remove your jewelry before entering pools or hot tubs. Pools, hot tubs, and jewelry don’t mix. The various types of chemicals found in either a hot tub or pool water can chemically react with the alloys in precious metals. This reaction can cause your jewelry to dull, discolor and eat away at the metal, wearing away prongs.
- Salt water can damage your jewelry as well! Small pieces of jewelry, especially rings, can slip off undetected. If this happens, you are likely never going to find that item. If you misplace your jewelry while at the beach, you’d better have a metal detector on hand to recover it.
- This goes for watches too! Saltwater on watches if not rinsed off will build up under moveable bezels and freeze them permanently so they won’t turn
Another reason to take your jewelry off before you hit the water is that the sand or dirt in the water will stick to your jewelry and scratch the metal and stones. There’s a reason they call sandpaper, sandpaper: Sand and dirt are abrasive, can cause considerable damage, and will make your item appear dirty, as well.
Get jewelry professionally cleaned regularly.
We recommend that you bring your jewelry, especially your rings, to the jeweler of your choice at least twice a year for a cleaning and professional inspection. Here at Braunschweiger Jewelers, we provide this as a complimentary service to prevent unwanted damage and ensure your jewelry is looking its best.
To learn more about jewelry cleaning and inspections, come visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about advice on cleaning jewelry, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or simply fill out our contact form. We’ll answer your questions quickly