How to Clean Your Jewelry

Are your favorite jewelry pieces lacking a bit of their original luster?  We’re here with tips on getting your go to jewels back to their original gleaming state.  The jewelry we wear everyday is in near constant contact with our skin and the environment around us, which means that our natural oils, general dirt, and anything we’re putting on our body (soaps, lotions, etc.) will stick to the surface of your jewelry, stealing some of that high shine and making it look a bit more dull. Regularly cleaning your jewels is the best way to keep them looking new longer, but the way you clean a piece depends on the material, and cleaning it the wrong way can be harmful to the metals and stones.  Read on for how to clean plated, solid gold, and silver and brass jewelry.

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Cleaning Plated Jewelry

Plated jewelry, including both brass based and vermeil, has a layer of gold on top of a base metal.  When cleaning plated jewelry, extra care needs to be taken so that the layer of gold is not completely stripped from the surface of the piece.  When cleaning plated jewelry: 

Do: 

  • Use a damp microfiber towel or cotton ball to wipe down the surface of your jewelry daily after each wear.  This method is extra gentle, and by doing it regularly you’ll avoid build up of dirts and oils that require a more intense cleaning method.
  • Use a mixture of warm water and a tiny bit of dish soap (a couple drops per cup of water), dip the pieces in the solution, and then dry with the microfiber cloth or cotton.

Don’t 

  • Use a polishing cloth or anything abrasive.  This will remove the plating more quickly from the piece.
  • Use cleansers with harsh chemicals.  This can eat away at the plating as well.
  • Put multiple pieces together in a bowl.  The pieces can scratch one anothers’ surfaces.
  • Soak pieces in the cleaning solution for a long time, especially pieces that have gems.  Depending on the gem and how it’s set into the piece, this can damage the stone or loosen the setting if glue is used to hold it in place.
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Cleaning Solid Gold Jewelry

Solid gold jewelry can withstand a bit more scrub than plated jewelry since you don’t have to worry about removing a layer of plated and exposing a base metal.  However, gold is a soft metal, so extra care should still be taken so that the surface of your jewels don’t scratch.  When cleaning solid gold jewelry: 

Do: 

  • Use the same method and solution for cleaning plated jewelry, but for a deeper clean on dirtier jewels, use a soft bristled toothbrush in gentle circular motions to remove extra build up.
  • Soak your piece in your water and dish soap solution for 15-30 minutes *if* your piece does not have semi precious stones.  Certain stones (like opal and pearl) should never be submerged in water, but harder stones like diamond and sapphire will be fine.

Don’t:

  • Use any abrasive materials.  Solid gold is meant to last, but it’s soft and scratches easily..
  • Try to get large build ups of dirt, especially around gem settings, clean on your own.  For deep cleaning of solid gold jewelry, take your piece to a local jeweler.
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Cleaning Silver & Brass Jewelry

Brass and silver jewelry can appear dirty more quickly and requires more frequent cleaning to keep it nice and bright, but it’s also the easiest to clean.  When cleaning brass and silver jewelry

Do: 

  • Use a brass and silver polishing cloth.  This is the fastest way to remove tarnishing from the surface of your piece (plus it’s immediate and super satisfying)
  • Use the same soap and water mixture listed above if you don’t have a polishing cloth handy. 
  • Use an alternative cleaning solution for extra dull pieces.  Brass and silver can withstand a bit more than plated and solid gold jewelry, so for a more intense tarnish, cut a lemon in half, dip it in salt, and gently rub the lemon on the surface of your jewelry.  Rinse with warm water and dry with a microfiber cloth.

Don’t 

  • Dig into the piece with your nails or other sharp surfaces while cleaning.  Brass and silver can withstand more than other materials, but they can still scratch.

Some Other Pro Tips for Cleaning Your Jewelry 

  • When cleaning your jewelry, plug your sink so that your piece has no risk of falling down the drain (a moment of silence for the studs we’ve lost to the sewer)
  • Be extra mindful of pieces with semi precious gemstones.  To be 100% safe, avoid soaking any gem in water.
  • Take jewelry off when washing your hands, showering, cleaning, swimming, applying skincare, etc.  Limiting your piece’s contact with water, chemicals, and any substance that causes build up will keep it looking cleaner longer.
  • When in doubt, take your piece to a professional to be cleaned.

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