When we want to present a professional, polished image to the world, we take time to make sure our clothing is properly laundered and pressed. We keep our hair styled and up to date. And we take care to have our nails neatly trimmed or filed and possibly polished. But what about our jewelry? This can be the forgotten detail that keeps us from presenting the best image possible if we don’t take the time to care for it properly. But not all jewelry is considered equal, so it is important to know how best to clean your particular pieces.
Gold: Treasured throughout history for its beauty, gold has a luster that continues to be in demand in modern days. But as a soft metal, it is important to take special care when cleaning it. Use a simple solution of mild dish detergent and warm (not hot) water and use a soft toothbrush or jewelry brush to get into nooks and crannies. Ammonia may be used for a deep clean, but only on a rare occasion as it can be hard on the metal. Also, if your item has opals, pearls, turquoise or other delicate gems, do not use ammonia as it can harm the delicate stones.
Silver: Sterling silver is another soft metal and can be scratched easily, so using a jewelry polishing cloth on a regular basis is the best way to keep your silver bright and gleaming. Storing it in a cloth jewelry bag will also help keep tarnish at bay.
Gemstones: Gemstones vary greatly in hardness so it is important to know how to clean your particular piece. A soft stone, like pearl or opal should be cleaned with a very mild solution such as one teaspoon of Woolite mixed with one quart warm water. While harder stones, such as diamonds can be cleaned with toothpaste, doing so may damage the gold or silver setting, so again a mild solution of dish soap and warm water is recommended.
A few tips to remember:
1. Do not use hot water with gemstones as the heat may loosen the stone (which often has glue to keep the stone in place) and compromise the setting.
2. Proper storage is key to keeping your jewelry looking its best. Just as you would not toss your business suit on the floor of your closet, don’t just toss your jewelry into a dish or box without proper padding.
3. Periodically take your most valuable pieces to a professional. They have the best materials to clean your prized pieces and they can check the settings and make sure your jewelry is in tip top shape.