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How to Clean Costume Jewelry?

September 19th, 2022

Costume jewelry is an accessory collection staple, offering an inexpensive way to add a little sparkle to an outfit. Costume jewelry uses gold or silver-plated base metals such as aluminum, copper, or brass, and glass or imitation gemstones to mimic the shine and quality of fine solid gold and sterling silver jewelry.

While these materials may offer the same luster as fine jewelry, they do not provide the same durability and longevity. Costume jewelry requires careful maintenance to ensure paint and plating don’t flake off or degrade.

However, because plating and glass wear down or break easily, they require more delicate cleaning and are unsuitable for professional maintenance using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Cleaning costume jewelry at home is straightforward. Follow these steps to restore your costume jewelry to its original shine.

How to Clean Tarnished Costume Jewelry

First, thoroughly check each piece to see if there is any damage. If you find places where there are scratches or paint flaking off, you will need to clean those areas with extra care and avoid touching them with the cleaning cloth. If you have loose gemstones, avoid getting them wet; water can seep under the gemstones and degrade the glue holding them in place.

Wet a soft, microfibre cleaning cloth with a combination of lukewarm water and mild, unscented dish soap. Gently clean the jewelry with the soft cloth and a gentle circular motion. 

If areas have built-up grime, use a toothbrush or q tip soaked with the same cleaning solution to gently pretreat and clean the area before using the main cleaning cloth.

Rinse the jewelry with room-temperature tap water.

Lay the pieces flat on an absorbent cloth to dry, and blot extra water away with a cloth or paper towel. Removing excess water quickly will prevent rust and paint damage. Do not use a polishing cloth.

Repeat the process until the jewelry is clean if dirt or grime remains.

Another useful method for cleaning tarnished costume jewelry employs the use of baking soda, aluminum foil, salt, and some chemistry.

Put a sheet of aluminum foil with the shiny side facing up on a plate or pan. Fold the foil around the edges to keep it secure. Lay your costume jewelry on the foil.

Mix one cup of warm water with one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of baking soda. Pour the mixture onto the foil, this will cause a chemical reaction that will bubble up and clean even the toughest dirt off your costume jewelry.

Rinse your jewelry afterwards with cool water.

Close up of a hand cleaning a ring using a toothbrush

Care Tips for Costume Jewelry

Proper care of your costume jewelry can keep them clean and damage-free for years. Though costume jewelry can be delicate, avoiding certain oils and products and taking certain preventive care steps can protect them. 

Some general care tips for all types of costume jewelry include:

  • Do not submerge the jewelry in water. The glue that holds the artificial gemstones in place is often water soluble and degrades rapidly if wet. 
  • Do not shower with the jewelry pieces as the non-precious metals could rust. 
  • Do not swim with costume jewelry as the chlorine in many pools and heat from hot tubs can cause the paint or plating to discolor. 
  • Remove the jewelry before cooking or cleaning. Oils and solvents used in cooking and cleaning can rapidly degrade costume jewelry.
  • If you need to apply perfume, lotion, or makeup, put it on and let it completely absorb or dry before putting on any costume jewelry. 
  • Do not wear costume jewelry for extended periods, as the natural oils in your skin can break down the gold or silver plated jewelry. Wearing the jewelry frequently also increases the buildup of grime and dirt on the piece’s exterior and increases the risk of accidental scratches.

  • Gently wipe all pieces clean with a dry microfiber cloth after wearing them.
  • Store your costume jewelry in a jewelry box. If you want to go a step further you can put the jewelry in a ziploc bag. Squeeze all the air out before sealing them to prevent oxidation and accidental scratches.

Close up of hands using a polishing cloth to clean a silver necklace

Insure Your Costume Jewelry with BriteCo™

Costume jewelry can be easily damaged, and regular care is critical to maintaining its luster. If you are planning to wear costume jewelry to your wedding, you may need added protection against damage or loss. The hectic schedule of the day can lead to dings and scratches, and makeup, perfume, and sweat can damage the finish. To ensure that your personal costume jewelry and any pieces you rent are protected, invest in wedding insurance from BriteCo.

BriteCo’s wedding insurance is an affordable way to have peace of mind on your special day. For as little as $125.95, you can have up to $2 million in general liability coverage; for $359.83, you can have postponement and cancelation coverage that includes deposits or payments on rented costume jewelry. 

Claims can be filed easily on BriteCo’s website, and you can receive a settlement or compensation quickly. Contact us today for a quote and ensure all your costume jewelry is protected.

Also Check:

How to Clean a Moissanite Engagement Ring?
How To Polish Jewelry | BriteCo Jewelry Insurance
How to Clean Pearl and Opal Jewelry?
How to Clean Ruby and Sapphire?
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Rachel Akmakjian

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.