Some articles insist that only a professional quality jewelry cleaner is safe to use on your fine jewelry, while others offer cheap and easy alternatives, such as ketchup or toothpaste, to clean, shine, and polish your favorite pieces. What's the scoop? How can you clean and care for your treasured pieces easily, affordably, and most of all, safely? Here is your surefire guide to cleaning everything from gold nugget jewelry to precious and semi-precious stones.
Cleaning and Caring for Gold Jewelry
Gold jewelry is generally durable and easy to keep clean. However, it's best to remove gold jewelry before bathing or cleaning, as soaps and chemicals can build up on the surface causing it to develop a dulling film. Additionally, chlorine, particularly when paired with heat, can permanently damage the alloys in 10k, 14k, and 18k gold, so never wear it in swimming pools, especially heated pools, hot tubs, and while cleaning with bleach.
To clean gold jewelry, either use a professional jewelry cleaner according to package directions, or put a few drops of a mild dish detergent in warm water and scrub the jewelry with a soft bristled brush. An old toothbrush is ideal, and helps get embedded dirt out of the natural creases and crevices in pieces like gold nugget jewelry.
Cleaning and Caring for Silver Jewelry
Silver is soft and easily damaged, so never wear silver jewelry while cleaning, working in the yard, or performing other strenuous tasks. Special cleaners are available for cleaning silver jewelry, or you can simply polish it regularly with a soft cloth or sponge. However, always be sure to use a clean, fresh cloth or sponge, free of any soap or cleaning residue.[i]
Cleaning and Caring for Wood Jewelry
Wood jewelry is generally durable, but isn't tolerant of soaking in water, because the wood fibers soak up moisture. Take off wooden jewelry before swimming, bathing, or cleaning, and clean it with a clean, slightly damp cloth. Unlike metals, wood jewelry that becomes damaged isn't always repairable, so take special care to protect your wooden ring.[ii]
Cleaning and Caring for Motion Rings
The primary cause of motion rings failing to operate properly is debris stuck in the bearing -- such as pet hair or lint. Clean motion rings with a professional jewelry cleaner. Mr. Clean works well because it doesn't leave residue on the stones. Allow the ring to dry completely, including the interior open bearing and the ring will return to spinning normally.
Cleaning and Caring for Pearl Jewelry
Pearl jewelry doesn't have to be saved for special occasions, because the oils from your skin actually help polish and protect the pearls. Just put on the pearls last to avoid contact with makeup and other substances that might contain acid, which is damaging to pearls. Wipe the pearls off with a clean, soft cloth after each wear, and store them in a cotton bag (never plastic!), separated from the other jewelry in your jewelry chest. To clean, use a specially formulated pearl polish, or combine one teaspoon of gentle laundry detergent (such as Woolite) with one quart of water. Soak the pearls for about 10 to 15 seconds, wipe with a clean, soft cloth, and lay flat to dry thoroughly.[iii]
Cleaning and Caring for Diamonds and Other Precious Stones
Diamonds are indeed the toughest minerals in the world, but the gold or silver settings that hold the diamonds are not. Avoid the recommendation to clean diamonds with toothpaste, because it will scratch the setting. Use a specially formulated professional jewelry cleaner, or warm soapy water, and a soft bristled brush or old toothbrush to scrub away dirt.
Cleaning and Caring for Turquoise Jewelry and Semi-Precious Stones
Most semi-precious stones are tolerant of water and can be cleaned like your diamonds. However, some stones, such as turquoise, are porous and absorb water, which can lead to permanent discoloration of the stone. Remove jewelry containing semi-precious stones before bathing, cleaning, etc. and clean only with a damp (not soaked) cloth. Dry quickly.
With the right care and cleaning, you can keep all your jewelry in great shape for many years to come.
Alaska Jewelry began as a small mom and pop shop in Alaska. With the rise of the Internet, Alaska Jewelry opened an online store, offering the same care and individual attention to their customers on the Web as they do to their friends and neighbors who visit their brick and mortar stores. In addition to the online Alaska Jewelry store, you can find the same great selection and service at their physical stores in Sitka and during the summer in Icy Strait Point.