Jewelry is a valuable and treasured possession for many people. However, regular wear and exposure to the elements can cause jewelry to lose its shine, look dull, or even get damaged. It's essential to take care of your jewelry by cleaning and storing it properly to keep it looking its best. In this article, we'll discuss how to clean jewelry and provide tips on safe storage, with an emphasis on your favorite gold, gold-plated, and diamond pieces.
Why Is It Important to Clean Jewelry Regularly?
Over the course of everyday wear, we expose our jewelry to dirt, sweat, and oils from our skin that can cause damage and discoloration. Regular cleaning helps remove this buildup to prevent jewelry from looking dull and less vibrant over time. Additionally, cleaning can help prevent scratches and other damage that can occur from everyday wear. We recommend regularly cleaning your jewelry at home using the following steps, and taking your jewelry to the professionals for a deep cleaning twice a year.
How to Clean Jewelry in 5 Steps
Every piece of jewelry is different. Each item is made of different materials, and some vintage pieces can be more delicate than newer ones, so there’s not a one-size-fits-all cleaning solution. However, there are a few tried and true cleaning methods that we recommend, regardless of how old your pieces are and what they’re made of. Follow these steps to clean your jewelry at home:
#1: Wipe your jewelry with a dry, soft cloth at the end of each wear
When you take off your jewelry at the end of the day, giving it a gentle wipe with a soft cloth can prevent the buildup of residue from things that lead to tarnish, like soap, lotion, and bacteria. This is a really simple, preventative step that can keep your jewelry in great condition.
#2: Use dish soap and warm water
Give your jewelry a cozy little bubble bath! Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water and add a couple of drops of dish soap. This can usually rid your jewelry of any dirt or grime that’s stuck in the nooks and crannies or won’t come away with a gentle wipe. Be sure to dry your jewelry very thoroughly after its bath. Be extra careful if your jewelry is vermeil or metal-plated; these pieces are more delicate and can wear down more easily because the top layer is thinner than solid metals.
#3: Gently scrub with a toothbrush
If your pieces have crevices that are difficult to clean, try using a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in warm, soapy water to reach the dirt stuck in these areas. Be very careful not to scratch the metal or gemstones by scrubbing too hard.
#4: Do not use chemicals
Many types of chemicals can be harmful to your jewelry, so be judicious about using any pre-made cleaning solutions. Chemicals can eat away at metals and dull your gemstones, so it’s best to avoid them if you’re not sure how your jewelry will react. Definitely skip soaps or chemical cleaning products with fragile, vintage, or soft jewelry elements like pearls.
#5: Take your jewelry to a professional every six months
A professional jeweler has access to all kinds of equipment they can use to make your jewelry look as good as new. For example, a jeweler might give your jewelry a steam cleaning treatment followed by a thorough polishing to make it sparkle again. If you’re at all apprehensive about cleaning your jewelry at home, consulting a jeweler is a safe bet for expert-level cleaning.
Storing Your Jewelry
In addition to cleaning your jewelry regularly, it's also essential to store it properly to prevent damage and discoloration. Here are some tips on how to store your jewelry:
- Keep your jewelry in a dry place: Moisture can damage or discolor your jewelry, so store your precious pieces in a cool, dry place.
- Keep your jewelry away from sunlight: Sunlight can cause your jewelry to fade or change colors, so store it in a dark place or in a jewelry box away from windows.
- Store your jewelry separately: Avoid clumping your jewelry together when you store it, as this can cause scratches and damage. Keep each piece of jewelry in a separate compartment or pouch.
- Store your jewelry in a secure place: To prevent loss or theft, store your jewelry in a safe or lockbox when you're not wearing it.
When should you take off your jewelry to avoid damage?
Although you may want to wear it everywhere all the time, it's important to take off your jewelry when engaging in activities that can cause wear and tear. You should take off your jewelry while:
- Swimming: Chlorine in pools can damage jewelry, causing discoloration and weakening the metal. Water can erode metals, even without the presence of chlorine, so be sure to leave your jewelry at home before hitting the beach, too.
- Showering: Soap and shampoo can leave a film on your jewelry, making it appear dull or discolored over time. This can also lead to tarnish, which changes the appearance of metals and can warp their colors beyond repair.
- Exercising: The salt in sweat can cause damage and discoloration to jewelry, especially when it comes to delicate stones and metals. Not to mention certain exercises or sports can cause your jewelry to snag, dent the metal, or chip your gemstones.
- Sleeping: Sleeping with jewelry on can cause it to tangle or get caught in sheets, and then there’s the fact that most of us sweat in our sleep. Be careful and take off your jewelry before you hit the hay.