It can seem intimidating, but we’re here to break down how you can clean your fine jewelry at home to keep your pieces bright and sparkling. This post, we’ll be reviewing the techniques for cleaning your: diamond, gemstone, pearl, gold, and silver.
Scroll down to see more, and keep an eye out on Instagram, @starling, where we’ll announce pop ups for free jewelry cleanings!
CLEANING DIAMOND JEWELRY
While diamonds are one of the strongest, hardest materials on earth, if they are not cared for, they are still susceptible to the damage of everyday wear. However, it is not usually the stone that’s in immediate danger – it’s often the diamond’s setting. But, even a diamond can lose some of its gorgeous shine if it’s not regularly cleaned. We recommend taking engagement rings to a jeweler (or us!) once a year for a professional cleaning and stone check.
Cleaning Solution: The best mixture of cleaning solution for diamonds is mild dish soap (we like Mrs.Meyer's or Seventh Generation) with water. The ratio of this solution should be a few drops of dish soap and 1-2 cups of very warm water.
After mixing the solution, simply let the piece of diamond jewelry soak in the solution for 20-30 minutes.
Once this time is complete, gently brush the jewelry with a new soft toothbrush (ie not one that has been in your mouth or had toothpaste on it before!) to dislodge any dirt. (Make sure to avoid brushing the diamond too vigorously to keep from dislodging the diamond from its setting. And don't forget to use the little bristles to get underneath the stone setting where lotion and dirt builds up.)
CLEANING GEMSTONE JEWELRY
Since gemstones like rubies, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarines and other stones originate from a wide variety of raw materials, there is no one tried and true method to properly clean each and every one of them. Yet, despite the wide range of raw materials, there are some basic rules that apply to the majority of gemstone jewelry items. The biggest rule for gemstone jewelry is to avoid hot water and chemicals like chlorine, bleach, ammonia and hair spray. Many colored stones are sensitive to high heats and/or can be unknowingly treated which will react with heat and chemicals. The below does not apply to more porous and sensitive stones, including pearls, ivory, amber and turquoise.
Cleaning Solution: Generally, the safest way to clean colored gemstones is simialar to diamonds. Add a few drops of mild dish soap in 1-2 cups of warm to cool water.
After mixing the solution, swoosh the piece in the solution a few times. Use your fingers to wash the piece or simply let it soak for a minute or two.
Then very very gently brush the jewelry with a new soft toothbrush to dislodge any dirt. Make sure to cover all parts of the piece.
Lastly, rinse off with warm water and dry with a soft lint-free cloth (we like Laundress Lint Free cloth) or let it air dry.
CLEANING ORGANIC AND SOFT GEMSTONES
Proper cleaning directions for organic and soft gemstones (i.e. Pearls, Ivory, Amber, Coral, Turquoise, Opal, and Lapis) are a bit different from other gemstone-based jewelry. Cleaning considerations involve the setting as much as the nature of the stone or material itself. Organic gemstones have microscopic fissures that trap dirt, oil, and cleaning products. And soft gemstones also generally have a very porous surface making them sensitive to contact with liquids as well. Avoid prolonged water, soap, chemicals, and sudden temperature changes.
Cleaning Solution: The safest way to clean these gemstones is with no cleaning solution at all. That said, for heavily soiled piece of jewelry, it is acceptable to use a bit of lukewarm water. For pearls and opals, you may also add a small amount of gentle soap to the water.
With a cleaning solution, in this case just lukewarm water, avoid soaking. Wet a soft cloth or makeup brush in the water and gently rub. Make sure to dry completely using a second dry cloth and air drying before storing or wearing. Proper storage of the items in fabric-lined cases further decreases the need for deep-cleaning.
POLISHING SOLID GOLD & SILVER
Whether your fine jewelry is made of solid gold or silver, cleaning procedures are the same for either type of the lustrous metals.
Cleaning Solution: To create your own cleaning solution at home, just mix lukewarm water with a few drops of mild dish soap and ammonia.
How To: Simply soak the jewelry in the mixture for a short time and gently rub the jewelry with a lint free polish cloth. This should immediately take the tarnish off of your jewelry. For plain gold items soiled with grease, a quick dip into a glass containing rubbing alcohol can undo the damage. If you choose to use a chemical polish, we like the Sunshine Polish Cloth, which is imbedded with cleaning agents for removing tarnish on gold, silver, brass and bronze. Simply rub the clean and dry jewelry with the cloth. Never use the same polish cloth for gold and silver.
By Tiffany Wong & Chelsey Bartrum