September 28, 2021 7 min read
Clean jewelry is a sign that each necklace, pair of earrings, or ring you own is special to you, but knowing how to clean your gold ring versus your silver necklace isn’t always obvious. The more a piece of jewelry is loved and worn, the quicker it loses its shine. Residue from daily beauty products or elements in the atmosphere make your gemstones cloudy, dirty, and lackluster. The good news is, dirty jewelry isn’t damaged. You can use common household items to make a DIY jewelry cleaner that’s just as effective as a professional cleaning. We’ll share six of the best ways to clean your jewelry so it can reclaim its sparkle.
Although it sounds all too easy, soap and water are the most versatile and effective jewelry cleaner combo. This method of jewelry cleaning works for all types of jewelry and metals--from diamond earrings to a gold necklace. The simpler the concoction, the safer your jewelry. No matter what piece of jewelry you’re cleaning, we recommend that you try soap and water before resorting to chemicals or more abrasive materials.
Dawn dish soap is safe and effective at cleaning jewelry. Just add a few drops to a warm basin of water and let your jewelry soak for 15-30 minutes. Then remove it from the basin and gently brush with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush to get grime out of the grooves. Finally, rinse and dry.
A jewelry cleaner is another simple and trusted method. You have many options when purchasing cleaner or making it yourself:
In addition to a jewelry cleaner, whether store-bought or homemade, a few other materials will help you in the cleaning process.
Solid silver jewelry is too soft to wear, so most is an alloy, or silver mixed with a small percentage of other metals for strength. This silver alloy is called sterling silver. The other materials mixed in are what cause the silver to tarnish. Most silver rings, earrings, and necklaces are made from sterling silver. You have several options for removing tarnishing in addition to silver polish.
You can clean silver jewelry with a Coke, seltzer water, or another carbonated drink. The bubbles from the carbonation adhere to unwanted particles and remove them. Let your jewelry soak in a bowl of carbonated liquid for about ten minutes. Then, remove the jewelry, brush it with the toothbrush, rinse it, and lay it out to dry.
Yes, cleaning silver jewelry with toothpaste is another option, but the toothpaste must be white not colored, a paste not gel, and without any whitening agents. First, put a dab of toothpaste on a cloth and wipe your jewelry. Rub your jewelry with the cloth, and then rinse and buff the items.
You can use baking soda on silver, but use it gently since it is abrasive. Line a container with aluminum foil and lay down the jewelry. Pour boiling water over the jewelry, then add a couple tablespoons of baking soda. Let it soak until you see tarnish vanishing.
It’s best not to use the same cleaning method for gold rings, earrings, and necklaces as you would for silver jewelry. Gold is soft and cannot tolerate abrasives or harsh chemicals, including toothpaste, baking soda, ammonia, or Windex. The lower the carat of gold, the more metals are mixed with it and the more it can withstand a little harsher cleaning.
The acidic hops in beer make a great grime-cleaner for gold jewelry. But be sure to use a light brew so the beer doesn’t stain. Simply dab a cloth in the beer and rub it onto the jewelry. Then, rinse and dry.
Cleaning gold jewelry doesn’t require much--boiling water alone will do the job. Place your jewelry into a bowl of boiling water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes. Then remove leftover grime by brushing it with a soft toothbrush.
Genuine white gold jewelry can be cleaned the same way as gold jewelry. Nickel is added to gold as a bleaching agent to make it white. However, most jewelry marketed as “white gold” is actually sterling silver plated in rhodium. Rhodium jewelry does not need cleaning--it needs replating by a jeweler once a year. Frequent cleaning will actually wear the rhodium-plating down. It’s important to know specifically what kind of metal your jewelry is made of before applying cleaning products.
Metal jewelry including copper and brass is not fine jewelry and can withstand more acidic cleaners, but very harsh chemicals can break down metals. So for metal jewelry it’s best to use natural cleaners.
You can either cut a lemon in half, salt one of the halves, and rub it on to your jewelry, or apply the lemon juice and salt directly onto the jewelry. Afterward, rub the jewelry with a soft cloth.
Rings with stones have an additional element to consider when choosing the best way to clean them. You must consider taking care of both the band and the gemstone. An ultrasonic cleaner works well for hard gems like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, but soft gems are too delicate for the ultrasonic cleaner. Because soft gems are porous and fragile, they also should not be cleaned with ammonia, abrasives, or boiling water. Cleaning with shampoo and a soft brush is best for softer gemstones.
If you want to restore the sparkle to your diamond ring, a little Windex and hydrogen peroxide will do the trick. Windex is safe to use on silver, gold, and platinum bands but is not safe for copper. Combine the Windex and hydrogen peroxide in a 50/50 mixture and soak the ring for about 10 minutes. Then, brush with a soft toothbrush, rinse, and dry. This method removes bacteria from hard gemstones, but it can damage soft gems. So if your ring is not a diamond, ruby, or sapphire, check the gem’s hardness before exposing it to these chemicals.
You can use ammonia for a deeper clean, but not regularly. Cleaning jewelry with ammonia frequently will damage the gold, silver, or other material of the setting. It’s fine to use on occasion but never okay to use with platinum or soft gemstones. If you decide your jewelry needs a deep clean, mix ½ tsp of ammonia with 1 cup of water and soak the jewelry for a minute or less. Don’t let your jewelry soak longer than a minute. Once you remove the items, be sure to rinse them well.
Every fine jewelry owner should clean their jewelry lightly once a week and clean it deeply twice a month. Depending on how often you wear your jewelry, we also recommend that you get it professionally cleaned once or twice a year. With a busy schedule, it may be difficult to remember routine cleanings. If that’s the situation you find yourself in, consider purchasing rhodium jewelry. It requires replating once a year (or less often if you don’t wear it daily), but you don’t need to clean rhodium to retain its shine. Rhodium is nickel and corrosion-free, so you don’t have to worry about it changing colors. Choose from our unique rhodium jewelry or read our rhodium FAQ to learn more.
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