An important step towards protecting your jewellery investment is establishing cleaning and care habits. At minimum, your jewellery needs to be serviced by a jewellery professional twice a year and cleaned at home monthly.
On this page, we cover:
- jewellery storage tips,
- monthly at-home cleaning solutions and tools, and
- care for jewellery with soft gemstones.
Storing your Jewellery
When you’re not wearing your jewellery pieces, you should store them in a safe place. Properly storing your jewellery is an essential step when caring for your pieces. Here are three tips to protect your jewellery when it’s not being worn.
Tip 1: Always remove your jewellery before swimming, working out, showering, or washing your hands. All of those environments will expose your jewellery to chemicals that can damage and discolor metals and affect the finish and polish of gemstones. Keep a small dish near the bathroom and kitchen sinks to hold your jewellery when you're showering, bathing, or washing your hands. This will help prevent your pieces from accidentally falling into the drain or getting lost. When swimming or working out, use a portable jewelry storage solution that can easily be secured.
Tip 2: Store each piece of jewellery individually. Give each piece of jewelry its own compartment when storing in a jewellery box or temporary storage container. Be sure to line your jewellery storage containers or wrap your jewellery with anti-tarnish fabric. If you choose to use a resealable storage bag solution, make sure to push as much air out of the bag as possible before sealing it. Both storage options will help to prevent scratches, tarnish, deformed ear wires, and tangled chains.
Tip 3: Store patinated, or chemically-blackened, sterling silver jewellery in a plastic bag or in a completely separate jewellery box. Some of the chemicals used to patina jewellery will blacken other non-blackened sterling silver jewellery if they are stored together without a barrier.
At-Home Jewellery Cleaning
Your monthly-at-home jewellery cleanings need not be cost intensive nor overly time consuming. Read on to learn more on my recommended at-home cleaning solution and at-home cleaning tools.
This at-home cleaning solution uses two to three key ingredients.
In a small bowl, mix:
- Warm water
- 2-3 drops mild dishwashing soap (I recommend Dawn Pure Essentials)
- Optional: diluted ammonia (1 T. ammonia for every 5 parts water)
- DO NOT add diluted ammonia unless you are 110% CERTAIN that your jewelry contains ONLY gold and diamonds.
Use enough cleaning solution to fully submerge your jewellery. Soak submerged jewellery for 10-15 minutes. DO NOT submerge jewellery containing soft gemstones (jewellery care for soft gemstones is covered in the next section).
- Baby toothbrush or adult extra soft toothbrush
Use a toothbrush to gently scrub stubborn dirt deposits. Toothbrush scrubbing introduces the risk of dislodging already loosened stones, so be sure to do this in a semi-enclosed container, such as a large resealable bag. If you are near a sink, be sure the drain is closed or blocked.
- Lint-free cloth
Use a lint-free cloth to dry jewelry after cleaning. Paper towels are not recommended for drying cleaned jewellery, as they can scratch soft metals like sterling silver.
- Compressed air can
- If you're still finding residual dirt after soaking or using a toothbrush to scrub your jewellery, compressed air will effectively reach those tiny, hard-to-reach pockets. Compressed air cans have sufficient pressure to dislodge already loosened stones, so be sure to do this in a semi-enclosed container, such as a large resealable bag. If you are near a sink, close or block the drain.
Note About Personal Ultrasonic Cleaning Machines
Do you own a personal ultrasonic cleaning machine? These effective machines use ultrasound to agitate a fluid: typically water, commercial jewelry cleaning solution, or homemade jewelry cleaning solution (see recipe above). If you're fortunate enough to own one of these machines, you can use it to clean some of your jewellery pieces, as long as you pay attention to the do's and don'ts below:
DO follow the directions for your specific ultrasonic cleaner. If using a commercial jewellery cleaning solution, follow those instructions as well.
DO familiarize yourself with gemstones that can and cannot be placed in an ultrasonic machine. Emerald, onyx, lapis lazuli, and turquoise are examples of stones that shouldn't be cleaned with ultrasonic machines. See more specific information about jewelry care for soft gemstones below.
DON'T forgo your twice-annual jewellery inspections. You'll still want to bring your jewellery to a jeweller every six months.
DON'T put too many items into your ultrasonic machine at once. If you overcrowd the machine, your jewellery may rub together, resulting in scratches or loose stones.
Jewellery Care for Soft Gemstone
Gemstones on the soft or low end of the hardness scale require special care. Pearls, opals, ivory, coral, moonstone, and turquoise are a few examples of soft gemstones, but this is not an exhaustive list. If you're uncertain about the type of gemstone in the jewellery you want to clean, start an online chat with us or call us at 919.390.2408. Here are some tips for cleaning jewelry containing soft gemstones.
Tip 1: Use a soft cloth to gently rub the stone. Avoid using harsh tools such as a toothbrush, which could scratch the stone.
Tip 2: Do not submerge soft gemstones in any liquid. Instead, dampen a soft cloth with warm water and mild dishwashing soap to rub small sections of the gemstone. Then pat dry.
Tip 3: After cleaning, place your jewellery in a clean, dry location with sufficient air circulation overnight, or 12-24 hours. This will allow any moisture that was inadvertently absorbed by the soft gemstone to evaporate.
If you'd like your favorite jewellery pieces to last a lifetime and beyond, then cleaning and caring for your jewellery is definitely a habit worth forming.