Your Ultimate Guide on How to Clean Fine Jewelry

By Dustin Lemick
January 7th, 2021

Over time jewelry can suffer from discoloration, dullness, and more. Being able to accurately clean your jewelry can extend its long-term use and illuminate its beauty. However, incorrectly cleaning jewelry can result in discoloration or permanent damage. This blog explains a multitude of ways to correctly clean your jewelry so that you can extend its long-term use and shine.

Have you cleaned your engagement ring in a while?

An engagement is an exciting and life-changing moment. While engagement rings can come in all shapes and sizes with a variety of stones, the diamond ring is always a classic favorite in today’s world. After wearing your ring for a while, you may notice discoloration, cloudiness, or a dull shine–these are signs that say it may be time to clean your diamond ring. There are several methods used on how to clean a diamond ring, and we’re going to cover how you can safely do so in this article.

How to Clean Your Diamond Ring

If your diamond ring is in need in cleaning, here are a few methods you can use to bring back its sparkle and shine.

  • Method 1: Use dish soap. Cleaning your diamond ring with dish soap is a common household cleaning method. Make sure to put one to two drops of dish soap in a small bowl filled with warm water. Then put your diamond ring in this bowl and swish it around. Use a soft bristled brush to gently remove any dirt and grime. Then rinse in cool water and dry with a soft cloth.
  • Method 2: Use jewelry cleaner. You can also purchase jewelry cleaner to clean your diamond ring. Make sure to check the label on the jewelry cleaner you purchase to be sure it can be used on diamonds. Each jewelry cleaner contains chemicals that if used on the wrong stone, could lead to discoloration or loss of durability.
  • Method 3: Use an ultrasonic cleaning machine. There is a professional way of cleaning diamond rings if you don’t want to do it yourself. It’s best to find a reputable, local jeweler to perform a professional ultrasonic cleaning for you. We recommend not doing this sort of cleaning of your own since improper use of an ultrasonic cleaning machine could lead to loose stones, missing stones, or even damage.

How often should you clean your diamond ring?

The cleaning method you choose will determine how often you need to clean your diamond ring.

If you decide to clean your ring with dish soap, then you should clean your diamond ring regularly. Lotions, sweat, cooking oils all build up quickly when you wear your ring on a daily basis. To avoid discoloration or build up, you’ll want to use the dish soap cleaning method at least every two weeks.

If you choose to go with a reliable jewelry cleaning solution, then you’ll need to clean your ring about once a month. This gives you a more thorough cleaning than dish soap. Make sure to pay attention to your ring’s setting, metal type, and stones before using any jewelry solution. Choosing the wrong solution can lead to ring damage so it’s best to do your research or ask a professional jeweler beforehand.

If you decide to go with a professional ultrasonic cleaning, then we recommended visiting your local jeweler (or dropping it off for cleaning) every 6 months. That way you can be sure a professional will check for any loose stones or discoloration, and they will be able to thoroughly clean it with tools such as ultrasonic equipment that you wouldn’t have at home.

How to Clean Your Gold Jewelry

Gold jewelry is obviously a popular choice for many people around the world. To avoid discoloration or dullness, here are several gold jewelry cleaning options including how to effectively clean your jewelry yourself, at home.

  • Method 1: Use dish soap. You can use dish soap from trustworthy brands like Dawn to clean your gold jewelry. Not all dish soaps can be used to clean gold jewelry so make sure to do your research on each brand beforehand. First, mix a small amount of dish detergent with lukewarm water (not hot water). Then add a few drops of ammonia to water and dish soap mix. Let the ring soak in the solution for at least 20 minutes. Use a soft brush like a toothbrush to carefully clean the gold jewelry in the cleaning solution. Since gold is a soft metal, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t scrub the gold too roughly since you can cause damage. After you’ve cleaned the gold, place it in lukewarm water and carefully rinse all of the dish soap off. You can then either air dry or towel-dry the gold with a cloth or paper towels.
  • Method 2: Jewelry Cleaner. You can purchase jewelry cleaner specifically made for gold to clean your gold jewelry. Make sure to select a jewelry cleaner that’s made specifically for gold jewelry. Rubbing alcohol is another approved cleaner because of its sanitizing and cleaning effects.
  • Method 3: Visit a professional. If you’re nervous about cleaning your gold jewelry at home, you can visit or drop off your piece with your local jeweler  who can clean your gold for you. Professional jewel cleaners are specialized in how to clean various stones and metals and will know the procedures to take when cleaning gold jewelry.

What to avoid when wearing gold jewelry

Gold jewelry can last for a long time if taken care of correctly. There are a few situations that should be avoided at all costs when wearing gold jewelry, including:

  1. Chlorine and gold jewelry do not go well together. Chlorine weakens the gold’s internal structure over time and can cause permanent damage such as breakage. If you plan on going swimming in a pool treated with chlorine chemicals, for example, remove your gold jewelry and store it in a safe place to prevent any lasting damage.
  2. Cleaning Materials such as typical household cleaners can cause damage to your gold’s finish, especially if there’s acid or abrasives in the cleaning solution. It’s very important to wear gloves while cleaning to ensure your gold is not affected.
  3. Bathing can lead to a buildup of film on your gold jewelry from the soaps, shampoos, and conditioners. To prevent this, simply remove your gold jewelry before bathing or showering.
  4. Makeup and lotions can lead to damage or buildup on your gold jewelry. Hair Sprays and perfume should always be put on before your jewelry.

How often should you clean your gold jewelry

If you wear your gold jewelry on a day-to-day basis, you’ll want to clean it at least once a month or when you start to notice signs of dullness. It’s also a good idea to schedule a professional gold jewelry cleaning with your local jeweler at least twice a year to keep it looking its best.

How to Clean Your Pearl Jewelry

Pearl jewelry is highly regarded as one of the most beautiful jewels and is often passed down through family lines. However, pearls are very delicate and can be easily damaged if not cleaned properly. For instance, diamonds can handle an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner because of their toughness; but pearls are too delicate and would be damaged during the process. Learning how to properly clean your pearl jewelry is absolutely necessary to preserve its quality and long-term use.

  • Method 1: At-home gentle cleaning. Because pearls are so fragile, you’ll need gentle cleaning after each use. Rigorously cleaning your pearls can lead to damaging the pearl’s appearance and luster. First, you’ll want to inspect the pearls to make sure they’re still in good condition. During the inspection phase, you should make sure the silk threads that hold pearls are not stretched and that the clasp still works. If you’re working with pearl earrings, check the pearl’s attachment to the post just to make sure it’s secure.To clean the pearls, use a soft cloth and dampen it with a solution composed of lukewarm water and a few drops of dish soap. Make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. After dampening your cloth, you should gently wipe your pearls. Don’t soak them in the solution like other gems or metals because of their fragility. Next,use another cloth and dampen it with fresh water to wash off any leftover soap from the previous solution. Then let your pearls air dry by placing them on a soft cloth or towel. This will help preserve the silk threads that hold the pearls.
  • Method 2: See a professional. If you’re worried about damaging your pearls when cleaning them yourself, by all means visit your local professional jeweler. Professionals have the experience and tools to ensure that your pearls are cleaned gently to avoid causing any damage. They’ll also be able to spot other conditions such as dullness, lacklusterness, chipping, etc., and they’ll be able to fix those issues for you.

Why are pearls so fragile?

Pearls are fragile because of the soft “nacre coating” that covers the jewel’s exterior. Nacre is also known as the mother-of-pearl, and it’s a crystalline substance that creates the iridescent visual effect on pearls–a secret to their attraction and beauty. Nacre is an organic substance secreted by mollusks in the formation of pearls. The thickness of the nacre determines how durable and strong the pearls are. If the nacre coat can be easily chipped, it usually means that a pearl was removed from its shell too early and only had time to develop a thin, fragile coating.

How often should you clean pearl jewelry?

Due to their fragility, you should do a gentle cleaning of your pearl jewelry after each wearing. Use a soft cloth to wipe them in order to remove any substances like lotions or body oils that could contribute to dulling the pearl’s appearance.

To give frequently worn pearls a more thorough cleaning, take them to a professional at least once a year. Your local jeweler should be able to take an in-depth look at your pearls and do a deep cleaning to restore the pearl’s iridescence and prevent lasting damage.

Tips on How to Maintain Your Pearl’s Beauty Over the Long-term

To keep your pearl jewelry shiny and full of life, the following tips will help ensure years of enjoyment:

  •  Make sure to put on your pearl jewelry last when dressing. Hair sprays, lotions, perfumes, and makeup can expose your pearls to damaging chemicals that can lead to dullness or even permanent damage depending on the chemical.
  • Since pearls are organic, their color can yellow overtime. To avoid this, you should store your pearls in non-abrasive fabric or in a jewelry box lined with fabric. Make sure to move the pearls away from heat sources, and you can even place a damp cloth in with the pearls to keep them hydrated.

Homemade Do-It-Yourself At-Home Jewelry Cleaners

If you would prefer not to purchase a commercial jewelry cleaner, there are options for cleaning your jewelry at home. The type of cleaner to make for yourself will depend on the type of jewelry you want to clean.

  • For gold jewelry, you can clean it with a solution composed of lukewarm water with a few drops of dish soap. Soak your gold jewelry for 5-20 minutes depending on its size to soften any dirt or grime that may have gotten underneath. Use a dampened soft toothbrush to clean off any dirt that may be on the gold. Then dry the piece with a soft cloth.
  • For silver jewelry, you can follow the dish soap method by mixing Dawn soap with warm water. Dampen a soft cloth in the solution and use it to clean the silver to remove any excess tarnish or dirt. Then rinse it with cool water, and buff dry it with a soft, dry cloth. You can also try using baking soda if you’re working with heavier tarnish. Mix 3 parts baking soda to one part water, wet the silver, and apply the baking soda solution to a soft, lint-free cloth. Start to clean the crevices and make sure to rinse the silver very well and buff dry it after cleaning. Toothpaste is another at-home cleaning solution for silver. Toothpaste is great at removing tarnish. All you need to do is put a small dab of white toothpaste on your tarnished silver and gently clean it with your finger or a soft cloth. Rinse the silver with warm water and buff dry it with a soft cloth.
  • For gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires set in gold, you can clean these pieces much like gold jewelry but with slight variations. You can mix dish soap in with seltzer water to create your cleaning solution. The carbonation allows a more thorough cleaning to remove stuck soil or dirt trapped in the jewelry that’s having a difficult time coming out. Then, use a soft toothbrush to brush your stones, and dip in clear water to rinse them off. Buff dry your jewelry afterwards.

How We Can Help

While learning how to clean your fine jewelry is important, you’ll need to ensure you have insurance coverage just in case something happens to it during the process. We at BriteCo provide jewelry insurance to those who want to protect their purchases and make sure their jewelry is covered for damage or loss. To learn more visit www.brite.co.

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About the Author

Dustin Lemick is the Founder and CEO of BriteCo and a third-generation jeweler with over thirteen years of retail jewelry experience. He holds a Graduate Gemologist degree from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and has in-depth knowledge and expertise in appraisal systems, diamond and gemstone markets, retail pricing models, insurance replacement models, and jewelry quotation pricing systems.
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