CLEANING YOUR JEWELRY

You saw it, you loved it, you bought it, you wear it all the time, now how the heck do you take care of it?!

    Q: My ring doesn't look as pretty as it did in the store, how do I clean it?

       A: Complicated question.  Let's answer the first part.  Most jewelry stores have special lighting.  The bulbs are referred to as jeweler's twinkle lights.  Note I wrote "most." In our store we use standard outside floods.  Not as efficient, definitely hotter in the summer for us in the store, but it more closely mimics the lighting in your own home.  So, when trying on jewelry, you and the salesman should step outside with it! Ta Dah! 

    Q:  How do I clean my jewelry?

       A: Well, that depends on the type of jewelry.  Silver, gold, pewter, other metals, platinum, they all have their own quirks but there are some generalities.  Even gold has a variety of care and cleaning methods depending on the karat.  For example, you can re-polish 14k but don't touch 20k or higher.  Even 18k yellow gets a beautiful finish over time; if you have someone polish it, the resulting finish can make the gold appear to be a lower karat.

    Q:  OK, so how do I clean silver jewelry?Dragonfly Pendant

       A: Silver jewelry, without any gemstones, can be "dipped" but many of those solutions are nasty and carcinogenic (causes cancer). I'd recommend against dipping.  The best for your health and the planet is to use either lemon juice and baking soda or just baking soda.  Make a paste the consistency of mustard in a small bowl.  Then, while you sit and listen to music or watch a program, mindlessly rub the tarnish right off your jewelry.  If you'd like to add some polish, then buy some jeweler's rouge from your local hardware store and rub a little on a cloth, then rub your silver jewelry with it.  You can also buy a "Sunshine cloth" that is already impregnated with polishing compound.  Now, if there are gems, but NOT all gems, the best home solution is a cap full of non-detergent ammonia in a small bowl of warm water.  Let it soak while you shower, not longer, then rub the back of the stone with a toothpick to loosen the last of the grime and cookie dough, grease and hair products. Finish by brushing with a NEW soft bristle toothbrush. Why "no longer" ? Because the addition of heat to the chemical bath (water and ammonia and heat) can cause electrolysis and truly all of a sudden the jewelry is plated, usually a bizarre dark surface.  So, be careful!

    Q: What about using toothpaste and a toothbrush?

       A:  For most toothpastes, the answer is no, No, and again, NO! Toothpastes are abrasive and scratch the surface.

    Q:  Hmmm.  OK, so how about my gold jewelry?

       A:  Well, what do you want to accomplish?  If you want the scratches gone then realize that's going to take a tiny bit of metal off.  I recommend buffing before summer, before the holidays, or before a big event to have your jewelry look it's best but not to otherwise in order to help your jewelry last as long as possible. And, and this is important, DO NOT buff the side or back shanks.  These areas get a lot of wear and are out of sight, so why the heck buff them and reduce your jewelry's longevity? 

    Q:  So, how do I clean my gold jewelry?Ivy

       A: Not with baking soda. Let the ring soak in a small bowl of warm soapy water then brush with that same new soft bristle toothbrush.  Add a bit of shine by polishing with a little bit of jeweler's rouge rubbed on a soft cloth. For jewelry set with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and many other gems, you can add the half cap full of non detergent ammonia to the water and clean as with stone set silver jewelry.

    Q:  What gems can't you clean with ammonia?

       A:  To start with: emeralds. opals, pearls, peridot, and glue set "gems".  There are more exceptions, so the best thing to do is ASK the salesperson when you purchase the piece AND get it in writing on your receipt.  

    Q:  Any other helpful hints? 
    
       A:  Yes, I know it's not always easy to get back to the store to have the store clean your jewelry and sometimes you just want a quick clean before going out, so it's really helpful to know the basics on cleaning.  There are lots of "important" dos and don'ts but the one I would stress right now is this: ALWAYS close the trap on your drain before starting to clean your jewelry. Inspect you jewelry before cleaning so you know if there are any missing stones; after you clean it inspect the jewelry again.  Anything missing?  If so, it's in the sink!  Retrieve the stones and THEN let the water out!

April 16, 2013 0 tags (show)

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