Quality jewelry is built to last forever – but without proper care metal and stone can tarnish, fade or even scratch. Protect your investment with appropriate cleaning and maintenance.
Follow these tips for jewelry that shines like the day you bought it!
Cleaning gold jewelry
Over time gold can develop a cloudy finish from lotions, body oil, makeup and dirt. Ignore the hype on the box of “gold cleaner.” Gold doesn’t tarnish so all you need is mild dish detergent and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Simply soak your gold jewelry in warm soapy water for five minutes, lightly scrub, rinse and dry with a soft polishing cloth.
Cleaning silver jewelry
Silver is a very soft metal and needs to be treated with care. Never buff sterling silver with anything but 100% cotton, flannel or a special silver cleaning cloth. Synthetic fabrics contain coarse particles that could graze the surface of your silver jewelry.
While oxidation removal products will eliminate tarnish, silver dips tend to cause darkening over time. A better solution is to take preventative measures to limit air exposure. Store sterling silver jewelry in a closed box or plastic bag.
Cleaning gold-plated jewelry
When washing vermeil rings (gold-plated over sterling silver) take care to ensure your soapy water is lukewarm and that the detergent is not antibacterial. Hot water can crack some stones and antibacterial soap leaves a film that can damage the vermeil. Dry immediately to prevent mineral residue.
All gold-plated jewelry should be stored in a velvet-lined box to prevent dents and scratches. Keeping the gold layer protected from dirt & dust will also increase its longevity as the more often you clean and polish your jewelry the sooner the plating will wear through. Be aware that most jewelers can replate your gold to refurbish old pieces.
Caring for gemstones
Despite its reputation for toughness, a diamond can crack when struck with adequate force. Softer gemstones are even more prone to damage. Remove rings before strenuous work or exercise and never pull a piece of jewelry by the stone as this can loosen the gem.
Proper gemstone storage is important as hard stones will scratch softer gems and metal. Store each piece separately and avoid throwing your jewelry into a pile.
Never wash valuable jewelry over the sink. Instead, use a bowl of warm, soapy water and dry with a cloth that is unlikely to catch on the tines of the setting. Consult your jeweler before utilizing an ultrasonic cleaner.
Caring for organic gems
Pearls, opal, amber and coral are natural materials with porous surfaces. Use a soft, moist cloth to wipe them clean and do your best to avoid contact with makeup, hairspray and other soaps and chemicals. Avoid ultrasonic cleaning and ammonia.
Rock-based jewelry such as lapis lazuli, malachite and turquoise should never be washed with soap. Simply rub clean with light pressure and a damp rag.
Pearls are extremely soft and prone to nicks and scratches. Never store pearls adjacent to other jewelry. Instead, purchase a fabric-lined box or soft fabric bag. Pearls are sensitive to body oils, perfume and any product that contains harsh chemicals. Be sure to wipe down pearls after every wearing.