Your jewelry collection is something that definitely has value, whether material or sentimental, and there’s nothing worse than getting ready for an event, digging up a piece of jewelry that you haven’t worn in a while and finding out that it’s discolored, tarnished or dull. Everyone needs to know the proper ways of taking care of jewelry because taking them to a jeweler to be professionally cleaned is a great, efficient but ultimately, costly process. And there is something very calming and soothing about cleaning your own jewelry, so here’s a proper way to do it.
You never clean silver, you just polish it. Polishing will not only remove tarnish, but it will also prevent it from coming back. The best thing to use is a silver polish, but if you’re in a pinch and don’t have that, there’s an easy at-home remedy: combine baking soda with a little bit of water to create a smooth paste. No matter which product you use, you want to take a very fine cloth, soak it in a bit of the product and start polishing in up and down motions. Make sure you’re moving and turning over the cloth so that the tarnish you pick up isn’t deposited back on the item. For storage, you want to keep as much moisture away from the piece as possible. You can use an anti-tarnish bag, but any bag with some silica packets or a piece of chalk stored in a dry spot will work fine.
Almost no piece will be 100% gold because pure gold is very fragile and could break or bend out of shape. But this isn’t a bad thing. The only thing is that the alloys that are added can make the gold tarnish. The number one enemy of golden jewelry are harsh chemicals, so make sure you’re taking your jewelry off in the shower and while you’re cleaning to prevent it from getting in touch with any cleaning supplies. If your gold does get tarnished, you can buy a special gold cleaner, but you can also make do with just a little bit of regular, mild dish soap. Dissolve it in lukewarm water and brush the jewelry with an extra-soft brush, then let it air dry. Using a soft brush will allow you to get into any nooks of pendant earrings and similar detailed pieces. Make sure you’re being very gentle when scrubbing not to damage the piece. With things that are more like 75% gold, you can be a bit harsher.
Gemstones are tricky, and you’ll want to make sure that you check with your jeweler about the proper way to clean every individual kind of stone. As a rule of thumb, hard stones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires can be cleaned with a solution of ammonia, dish soap and water, just be very careful not to damage the metal with the ammonia. For softer stones like opals and pearls, skip the ammonia and just use soap and water. Sometimes there’s a mix of metal and stone that just can’t be cleaned with one product without damaging the other part, and in that case, you need to take it to a jeweler to have them separated, cleaned and put back together.
If you have pieces that are very valuable, you’ll be better off taking them to be professionally cleaned, because they are not something you want to accidentally scratch or damage. But for things that you wear daily and that see a lot of use, a quick rinse with the right ingredients once every two months is all you need to keep your accessories nice, shiny and ready to wear.