How to Clean a Necklace?

September 11th, 2022

How to Clean a Necklace?

Over time, all necklaces will get dirty. The moisture and oxygen in the air and the oils and acids in your skin react with the metals, gems, and pearls, causing them to discolor and tarnish. High humidity, sunlight, lotions, and perfumes can also lead to discoloration. 

These chemicals and substances react with the jewelry and form a layer of sulfur-based tarnish on the surface of the necklace. The speed of discoloration and how it will look over time depend on the necklace material like gold, platinum, silver, or copper.

Fortunately, it is possible to clean any necklace, no matter the material, to restore its original shine. 

The cleaning method depends on the metal and gemstones the necklace is made from. Some materials have bad reactions to certain cleaning methods. For example, pearls completely dissolve in vinegar, and water could destroy the glue holding gems in place. Once you know what material you need to clean, follow this list of cleaning methods to quickly and easily get rid of the tarnish and discoloration.

How to Clean Gold and Platinum

Gold and platinum do not tarnish, but they can accumulate dirt and grime. Cleaning gold and platinum is easy. Simply soak the pieces in warm soapy water for 30 minutes to loosen up the dirt on the metal and between the links in the chain. Then, rub clean with a soft microfiber cloth.

Over time, your gold and platinum necklace might develop a patina that dulls the shine. This is not due to dirt or tarnish but is the result of tiny scratches that have developed over the years. If you want this dull patina removed, take your necklace to a jeweler and have it professionally polished. 

How-to-clean-a-Necklace

How to Clean Silver

The silver in your necklace will react with the sulfur and oxygen in the atmosphere to form silver sulfide. This sulfur layer on the surface is called tarnish, giving the necklace a dull, blackened appearance. 

Line a heat-proof pot or bowl with aluminum foil to clean silver necklaces. Fill the bowl with boiling water. Add two teaspoons of kosher salt and ¼ cup of baking soda and mix well. You will see them begin to react and bubble in the water. Put your silver necklaces in the water and let them sit for five minutes.

Carefully remove the necklaces and lay them on an absorbent cloth or paper towel to dry. Use a polishing cloth when they are dry for extra shine.

How-to-clean-a-Necklace

How to Clean Gems

The gems on your necklaces are easier to clean than the metals. Just put a few drops of dish soap on the gemstone and rub the soap into the dirty areas. You can soak the necklace in warm water if there is a heavy grime build-up. 

Spread your necklace on a cloth or paper towel and gently scrub the gems with a soft bristle toothbrush. Rinse the necklace with warm water, and let it air dry. 

To clean a pearl necklace, dampen a cotton pad with a solution made from warm water and two to three drops of mild dish detergent. Rub each pearl with the cotton pad to remove grime. Use a second cotton pad soaked in fresh warm water to remove soap residue. Gently dry each pearl with a soft, lint-free microfiber cloth. 

If you are cleaning a costume necklace with gems, use as little water as possible, and do not soak the necklace. Excess water can get under the imitation gems and break down the glue that holds them in place. 

Insure Your Necklaces with BriteCo™

Many people clean heirloom necklaces before their wedding. Make sure these beloved pieces and all your jewelry is insured and protected on your special day with wedding insurance from BriteCo™

For as little as $125.95, you can have up to $2 million in general liability insurance to protect your guests, venue, and jewelry from mishaps and accidents. For as little as $359.83, you can have protection against postponement or cancellation.

Check out BriteCo’s easy-to-use website and sign up for a policy today. Have peace of mind on your special day, knowing your jewelry is covered by BriteCo.

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About the Author

Rachel Akmakjian is Director of Jeweler Relations for BriteCo. She has more than eight years’ experience in jewelry marketing, retail, diamond wholesale, and managing her own company that specializes in creating custom jewelry pieces. Rachel is currently a student at the Gemological Institute of America, on track to receive her Graduate Gemology certificate by the end of this year. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.
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