Attention: We all need to be cleaning our bling more than we probably do. Jewelry is delicate and the daily assault of showering, cooking, (perhaps) gardening, and just spraying on perfume takes a toll on our precious metals.
As a general rule, “It’s good practice to put your jewelry on last—after cosmetics, hair products, body sprays and perfume,” notes Mark Mann, the Gemological Institute of America's senior director of global jewelry manufacturing arts. (Translation: He knows way more about jewels than you or I.) “You'll protect the integrity and appearance of all gemstones and metal alloys and keep your pieces looking beautiful in the long run.”
So, when grime builds up, follow these DIY cleaning tips:
You have diamonds? Lucky you! Photo: Thinkstock
DO: Return your gems to sparkly greatness by soaking them in warm (almost hot) water with a bit of good old dishwashing soap for at least 30 minutes. Stick to a basic detergent, one without moisturizers or anti-bacterial ingredients. If there’s a build-up of gunk, use a soft wooden toothpick to carefully lift heavy materials away from the back of diamond after soaking.) “Then gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, working the bristles in, around, and under the diamond,” advises Mann. Rinse under warm running water and repeat until all the gunk is gone.
DON’T: Use anything involving bleach, window cleaner or household degreasers. “Abrasive cleaning products will scratch precious metals,” says Mann. “Chlorine has the potential to attack base metals in gold alloys and weaken prongs.” To avoid dirtying diamond rings in the first place, remove before gardening or cooking.
That ring you bought in Santa Fe needs polishing from time to time. Credit: Thinkstock
DO: “Use a soft bristle brush and water to clean the turquoise, then another soft brush and water to clean the surface of the jewelry metal,” advises Mann. “After cleaning, immediately blot the piece dry to remove moisture. You can use a soft polishing cloth on the metal parts once the piece is dry, but avoid touching the turquoise.”
DON’T: Turquoise is a porous gemstone, so never soak it in water, swim or shower while wearing it; the gem may absorb the moisture, dulling its surface. Don’t use cleaning solutions on turquoise and if there’s accidental contact with chemicals, immediately blot the gems dry with a cloth. Because it’s a porous stone, you should avoid getting sunscreen, make-up, perfume and body lotion on turquoise.
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Warning: Don’t wear your pearls in the bubble bath. Photo: Thinkstock
DO: Even sweat can damage pearls, so wipe them with a soft cloth after each wear. Clean only occasionally with warm, mild soapy water and a very soft brush, says Mann. Rinse and blot on a towel and let dry. “Allow pearl strands to dry flat. Do not stretch or hang a damp strand of pearls,” he warms. “Make sure strands are completely dry before wearing.”
DON’T: Pearls are incredibly delicate — sunlight and high temps can diminish them. Never soak them in water or use an ultrasonic cleaner, chemicals or acids on pearls. Also, avoid swimming or bathing in your pearls (sorry, you’ll need another accessory for the bubble bath) because water can damage the silk threads on strands, says Mann. If you forget and accidentally jump into a pool while wearing your Great Aunt Emily’s earrings, immediately rinse them and then blot with a soft, dry cloth.
Silver does not respond well to soaking. Photo: Thinkstock
DO: Again, dish soap is your friend. Mix a few drops with warm water and then dip a soft cloth in and use that to softly rub the jewelry. Then, rinse in cool water and blot until dry. For really heavy-duty tarnish, try this baking soda recipe.
DON’T: Soak it. That actually makes tarnish worse.
A little cleaning and your gold will be good as gold (ha). Photo: Thinkstock
DO: Yep, you guessed it: Dish soap and warm water. Let gold jewelry soak for 15 minutes, then get your toothbrush out and follow these steps.
DON’T: Swim or shower in your gold — chlorine discolors gold and soap can leave a gross film on it.
This season’s $5 score will make it to next season if you take care of it! Photo: Thinkstock
DO: Just because your Forever 21 trove isn’t the real deal doesn’t mean it isn’t delicate. (In fact, it’s more delicate because it’s not built to last.) As a rule, try and keep these fakes away from water (the stones are held on by glue, after all, and water can loosen the bond). Instead, get in there with a toothbrush and gently remove any build-up. Rinse off (quickly!) and then blow dry each piece to prevent rusting. For bigger jobs, try a bit of baby shampoo.
DON’T: Use regular jewelry cleaner—it’s too strong for your H&M booty.
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