How to Clean and Care for Your Jewelry

Use dish cleaning soap and heat water for many metals, gems, and crystals

“Most jewellery, whether or not it’s a diamond or rose quartz, may be safely cleaned with dish cleaning soap and heat water,” mentioned McKenzie Santimer, museum supervisor and designer on the Gemological Institute of America.

Santimer recommends mixing one drop of Dawn dish cleaning soap with heat water in a bowl, then permitting your jewellery to take a seat within the combination for a number of minutes to chop via oils and dirt. For stable gold jewellery and onerous gem stones, comply with up with a delicate scrub utilizing a soft-bristle toothbrush. If you’re cleansing a stone in a pronged setting, be sure to wash the gem from all sides, working the versatile bristles into all of the nooks and crannies the place sunscreen, lotion, and different enemies of sparkle have a tendency to gather. Rinse, then dry with a microfiber fabric.

Treat plated and vermeil jewellery with further TLC

For gold plated and gold vermeil jewellery, swap out the toothbrush for a nonabrasive cellulose sponge (or skip the scrubbing altogether). Too a lot abrasion may cause plating to erode, revealing discoloration to the bottom metallic. “With gold plated jewellery, no matter base metallic is beneath could actually not like water,” mentioned Leigh Plessner, chief artistic officer for the Brooklyn-based jewellery model Catbird. In vermeil, the bottom metallic is sterling silver, so although it isn’t too delicate to water, it’s essential to be careful for scratching the comfortable metallic.

A nonabrasive cellulose sponge doesn’t scratch or erode plated and vermeil jewellery. Photo: Connie Park

If you’re questioning the way to inform the distinction between plated, vermeil, and stable gold, worth is your first clue: Solid gold is far pricier than vermeil, which is costlier than gold-plated jewellery. Solid gold can also be stamped with its karat—reminiscent of 14 kt or 18 kt—whereas vermeil is stamped 925 for sterling silver.

Tackle tarnish in your silver and brass

If your silver or brass jewellery is closely tarnished, dish cleaning soap and water is probably not sufficient to revive its shine. Luckily, “even when your silver is completely black, it’s fairly straightforward to un-blacken it,” mentioned Rony Vardi, Catbird’s founder. You can polish sterling silver and brass jewellery utilizing specifically formulated sharpening cloths to softly buff away tarnish. These multiuse cloths are extremely rated, although we haven’t tried them.

What about ketchup and toothpaste?

If the collective knowledge of the web is to be believed, you have already got efficient tarnish-busters in your pantry and medication cupboard. Ketchup is an oft-cited treatment: It’s nonabrasive, and its delicate acidity reacts with oxidized surfaces to dissolve tarnish. While some consultants warn in opposition to this method, we have been curious sufficient to attempt it anyway —on a few of our less-precious items. We have been amazed by how successfully it took the tarnish out of a brass necklace. To use this methodology, submerge your jewellery in a small bowl of ketchup, then let it sit for quarter-hour to an hour. Wash the ketchup off in a combination of heat water and dish cleaning soap, then rinse and buff dry with a microfiber fabric.

We additionally tried toothpaste and located it equally efficient. But beware: It works as a result of it’s abrasive, so that you danger scratching your silver when you’re not cautious. Nevertheless, it’s a straightforward, readily accessible methodology that will get fast outcomes—“all people does it,” acknowledged Vardi—so that you would possibly as effectively do it proper. Choose a low-abrasion, solid-color toothpaste with no further whitening or tartar-control brokers. Rinse your jewellery in water, then unfold a skinny layer of toothpaste over its floor, gently rubbing it in with a cellulose sponge or microfiber fabric. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, then totally rinse away the toothpaste and polish with a clear fabric.

Buff pearls with a comfortable, damp fabric—and keep away from chemical substances

Take care when cleansing your pearls; these temperamental beauties are porous and susceptible to peeling and chipping. “They ought to solely be cleaned with a microfiber fabric and somewhat little bit of water,” Santimer informed us. Never use chemical cleaners—chlorine, ammonia, hydrogen peroxide, and acetic acid (the acid in vinegar … and ketchup) are notably damaging—and don’t submerge your pearls in water, as this may deteriorate the silk thread on which they’re strung.

Never submerge or scrub your pearls. A moist microfiber fabric can take away filth and oils. Photo: Connie Park

An ounce of warning can also be smart when dealing with pearls due to their sensitivity to chemical substances in perfumes and cosmetics. All of our consultants cited the maxim, “final on, first off”: Pearls needs to be the final merchandise you placed on earlier than going out and the primary you are taking off earlier than preparing for mattress at night time.

Avoid direct daylight

“Just just like the solar damages our pores and skin, it could possibly injury your gems,” mentioned Santimer. Certain stones, like amethyst, are notably delicate to mild and lose their colour with extended UV publicity, and different stones which can be handled or dyed additionally fade within the daylight. Heat can have an effect on your gems too. “The solar will prepare dinner an opal. It’s known as crazing—the entire thing can begin to shatter,” Santimer defined.

Mind the moisture

Some supplies have distinct preferences in the case of humidity. If sterling silver is saved in a moist setting, it can tarnish extra shortly. To banish moisture, Vardi recommends sealing silver jewellery in a plastic bag with charcoal or silica packets if you’re not sporting it. Pearls and opals, however, want moisture. “You’d by no means go away them in a security deposit field, as a result of they’d dry out and crack,” Santimer informed us.

Store items individually

To keep away from scratches and dings, Santimer recommends storing jewellery individually in clear plastic luggage. This is very necessary for jewellery produced from softer supplies like sterling silver, opal, and lapis, in addition to—you guessed it—pearls. “You don’t wish to retailer pearls hanging with different necklaces, the place they will swing forwards and backwards and hit one another. Instead, coil them up in a snake coil and lay them flat,” mentioned Santimer.

Store silver jewellery with a packet of silica gel to stave off tarnish and seal the chain in plastic baggies with the clasp outdoors to stop knots and tangles. Photo: Connie Park

Keep chains from tangling

“One of the issues we hear about probably the most is chain tangling,” Vardi informed us. To preserve your necklaces neat, take a tip from the professionals: “We use these tiny jewellery zip luggage, or you’ll be able to simply use an everyday sandwich bag. Put the chain in order that the highest is clasped and protruding of the ziplock. That method, the highest of your chain can’t get tangled with the remainder of it, which is how knots often type,” mentioned Vardi.

Restring pearls each few years

Every so usually, strung pearls should be professionally restrung. “It can take years for them to stretch out, however you’ll begin to discover that the size will enhance, and also you’ll see that a number of the knots could also be fraying,” mentioned Santimer.

Check prongs yearly

Prongs put on over time, and in the event that they get too free, you danger a runaway stone. Santimer recommends scheduling an annual checkup on your engagement ring or different assertion stones with a good jeweler.

Deep-clean your gems

If you need your rocks to actually dazzle, take them in for knowledgeable ultrasonic cleansing (your annual prong-check is an effective alternative to do that). An ultrasonic cleaner vibrates gems right down to their molecular construction to attain that further brilliance.

If it’s damaged…

Don’t take issues into your personal palms. “You ought to deliver it to knowledgeable,” suggested Plessner. “If you’re bending the metallic your self and making an attempt to repair it by hand,” added Vardi, “you’re simply making a weak level, and that can make it worse.”

“Jewelry is made to be worn and lived with. It brings lots of pleasure,” mentioned Vardi (and your jewels would are inclined to agree). Pearls want frequent pores and skin contact to look their greatest: “The humidity and warmth out of your pores and skin preserve them good and heat, and physique oils make them lustrous,” mentioned Santimer. Silver, too, prefers common put on. “If you permit silver in a drawer, it tarnishes, whereas when you put on it, it tarnishes loads much less,” Vardi informed us. As for stable gold, “it doesn’t actually tarnish, and you may put on it on a regular basis. And one of many nice benefits of stable gold is that it may be repaired and reworked advert nauseam,” mentioned Plessner. Though you need to in all probability doff your necklaces and rings in sure conditions—like earlier than stepping right into a chlorinated pool or sizzling tub—how and if you select to put on your jewellery largely comes right down to choice. “I personally like my jewellery to look lived in,” mentioned Vardi. “For me, it’s OK to have that patina of life.” Plessner added, “There’s a Joan Didion quote that we at all times paraphrase: ‘Use the nice silver each day, as a result of each day is all there may be.’”

This article was edited by Catherine Kast and Jennifer Hunter.

  1. McKenzie Santimer, museum supervisor and designer, Gemological Institute of America, video interview, July 22, 2022

  2. Leigh Plessner, chief artistic officer, and Rony Vardi, founder, Catbird, video interview, July 19, 2022

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