Jewelry Cleaning

by April Reinhardt
(last updated February 20, 2009)

The first time my new mother-in-law saw my diamond engagement ring, she took me aside after we'd finished washing dinner dishes and showed me how to clean my ring to keep it sparkling as new. I paid close attention to what she said because she is an antiques dealer, with a specialty in fine jewelry. Having survived The Great Depression, my frugal mother-in-law advised me not to spend money on expensive jewelry cleaners and, instead, simply use what I already have at home to clean all of my jewelry. She also advised me how to care for my other jewelry, pointing out that I need to remove gem-containing rings when washing dishes or using harsh chemicals. That exchange occurred nearly ten years ago, and my rings and jewelry still look brand new because I still follow her wise advice.

You probably already have everything you need to clean all of your jewelry. That list includes:

  • Ammonia, rubbing alcohol, or vodka
  • A soft toothbrush or eyebrow brush
  • Paper towels or a soft cloth
  • A glass bowl or glass baking dish
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Aluminum foil
  • Tap water

Follow these cleaning instructions for jewelry set precious metals such as gold and silver, and for real gems, fine synthetic diamonds such as cubic zircons and Diamonique, set in precious metals. Do not follow these instructions for rhinestones or costume jewelry. To clean gold and gems, follow these steps:

  1. Pour one-half cup of ammonia, rubbing alcohol, or vodka and one-half cup of warm water into a glass dish.
  2. Add your jewelry to the dish, and allow it to stand in the solution for at least thirty minutes.
  3. After thirty minutes, remove the jewelry from the dish one at a time a place onto a paper towel.
  4. Dip a soft toothbrush or eyebrow brush into the bowl of cleaning solution, and gently scrub the jewelry. Make sure that you scrub around the prongs and setting, as well as the bottom of the gem where residue builds up.
  5. Gently dry and polish the jewelry with a soft cloth.

You don't need silver cleaners or paste to clean silver jewelry. To clean precious silver, follow these steps:

  1. Use a small piece of aluminum foil, shiny side up, to line a glass dish.
  2. Place your silver jewelry onto the foil.
  3. Sprinkle one tablespoon of salt and two tablespoons of baking soda over the jewelry.
  4. Pour very hot water – not boiling water – over the silver and allow it to stand for thirty minutes.
  5. After thirty minutes, remove the silver and wipe clean with a soft cloth.

Take care when using ammonia, as the fumes can be overpowering. Store your diamonds away from softer gems such as pearls, since diamonds can scratch other gems. Have your settings and pronged jewelry checked periodically by a jeweler to make sure they are tight. Never wear jewelry when using harsh household cleaners. Remove gold jewelry when lifting heavy items, as gold will bend.

Author Bio

April Reinhardt

An admin­istrator for a mutual fund man­age­ment firm, April deals with the writ­ten word daily. She loves to write and plans to author a memoir in the near future. April attend­ed More­head State Uni­ver­sity to pursue a BA degree in Ele­men­tary Edu­ca­tion. ...

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