How to clean jewellery hassle-free
Striking colours, bold designs and luscious metals – jewellery is made to catch the eye. Whether it’s the centrepiece of your outfit or a subtle everyday essential, we love it when our jewellery pops. Jewellery is like wearable art, from the classic to the contemporary. However, like any art piece, it’s essential that it’s looked after and cared for. Precious metals, whilst durable, will tarnish over time. This means, to keep that box-fresh shine, it’s important to clean jewellery regularly.
Whilst there are many bespoke cleaning products on the market, if you’re wearing your jewellery on the go, a DIY solution might be more convenient. Check out these three quick and easy ways to clean your jewellery at home.
Cleaning jewellery: things you should know
Jewellery is where innovation and style meet. Since the early days of jewellery, goldsmiths have strived to create new styles with the latest materials. As much as we love the classics, long gone are the days of plain bands and traditional engagement rings: in the world of contemporary jewellery, the options are endless.
However, with innovation comes complexity. Precious metals, plating and gemstones can all react differently when being cleaned, sometimes with negative results. So to avoid the unthinkable, check the following before putting on those marigolds:
Check your base material
To get the best clean possible, check the base material of your jewellery. From classic yellow gold to cutting edge ceramic, a wide range of materials are used in contemporary jewellery. These materials can react very differently when being cleaned. Subtle yet powerful, these reactions can lead to your jewellery becoming damaged. So make sure you know the base material you’re working with before cleaning.
Plated or Solid?
As well as knowing the base material, you should also consider whether your pieces are crafted from a solid precious metal or plated. Scrubbing can cause gold, rhodium and coloured plating to be eroded, so if you’re cleaning plated jewellery it is important to be gentle when cleaning.
Gemstones have unique and complex chemical compounds. As a result, they can react negatively when exposed to water, toothpaste and other substances used for cleaning. Porous gemstones, such as opals, pearls and turquoise, are particularly susceptible to damage when exposed to water and can lose their striking appearance. So, when cleaning gemstones, it is important to follow the appropriate technique (this also applies to lab created gemstones).
Getting down to business
1. Soapy Water
This method is ideal for:
For a versatile, reliable cleaning hack, look no further than humble soapy water. Whether you’re after slick stainless steel, glowing gold or just tackling titanium, this classic will work for you. To learn how to use your suds right, read below.
You will need:
Two bowls of warm water
Mild washing up liquid
A non-abrasive, lint-free cloth
A microfibre cloth (optional)
A soft-bristle toothbrush (optional)
Cleaning precious metal and plated jewellery with soapy water
Fill two bowls with warm water, mixing one with a few drops of mild washing up liquid. The bowl with washing-up liquid is for cleaning and the second bowl is for rinsing.
Place your jewellery in the washing bowl and let it soak; this will remove any dirt that is stuck to the surface of the jewellery. For stainless steel and rhodium plated jewellery, allow soak for up to 10 minutes; for gold and silver jewellery, soak for 15 minutes. Titanium, tungsten and cobalt are highly durable metals and do not tarnish, so a quick wipe of with a soapy solution should sufficiently clean your jewellery. However, if you live life on the wild side and jewellery has heavy dirt, like other metal types, we recommend soaking for up to 15 minutes.
After soaking, gently rub your jewellery with your fingers or the non-abrasive, lint-free cloth. For hard-to-reach areas, use a soft-bristle toothbrush.
After removing the dirt, rinse your jewellery in the second bowl with plain, room temperature water. Once rinsed, gently pat the jewellery to dry it. A non-abrasive, lint-free cloth is perfect for this.
Once any noticeable moisture has dried, give your jewellery a further wipe with a microfibre cloth. This will remove any watermarks from your jewellery and leave it with a stunning shine. For plated jewellery, it is best to let it air dry overnight, as to avoid potentially damaging excessive scrubbing. So, if you’re cleaning your jewellery for a special occasion, we recommend washing it a few days in advance.
Cleaning gemstones with soapy water
The process for cleaning gemstones is very similar. However, instead of using still water, mix the washing up liquid in sparkling water. Sparkling water is more effective than standard tap water at removing debris, so it’s perfect for targeting impurities lodged in the small settings and facets of your gemstone.
Once dipped into the sparkling water solution, remove and brush the gemstones and settings with a soft toothbrush. To finish, rinse your jewellery in running water.
Whilst this method is appropriate for most gemstones, it cannot be used for opals, pearls and turquoise. Due to their porous nature, if these gemstones are submerged in water their appearance may drastically change.
To clean opals, pearls and turquoise, first place the gemstone on a soft cloth. Dip a small, clean makeup brush into a mixture of warm water and mild washing up liquid, gently working over the gemstone. Once this has been done, rinse the gemstone with a clean, well-wrung damp cloth.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda
This method is ideal for:
Whilst bicarbonate of soda (or baking soda) doesn’t scream ‘luxury’, this cleaning hack is highly effective at removing tarnishing. This method works by creating a chemical reaction between the bicarbonate of soda and the tarnish. As an added bonus, this reaction has a dramatic visual effect. Make your chemistry teacher proud and clean your jewellery with these steps:
You will need:
A glass bowl
1 tbsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp salt
With the reflective side facing upwards, line the inside of your glass bowl with aluminium foil. Add a tablespoon of salt and bicarbonate of soda to the bowl, then add hot water. There should be enough water to fully submerge your tarnished jewellery. Once the powders have dissolved your solution is ready for your jewellery.
Place your tarnished pieces in the mixture and leave it under water for a few minutes. Due to the chemical reaction between the bicarbonate of soda, tarnish and aluminium, flakes of black and yellow will begin to float away from your jewellery. This is sulphur, the substance which causes oxidation and tarnishing.
As the sulphur is attracted to aluminium, these flakes will float towards the sheet lining your bowl. Unlike the other cleaning techniques, your jewellery does not require scrubbing with this method. Subsequently, this hack is ideal for cleaning gold plated jewellery.
Once the tarnish has floated away, take your jewellery out of the solution and rub it gently with a microfibre or lint-free cloth. Finally, rinse your jewellery under warm running water and gently dry. Et voila!
For cleaning gemstones, mix the bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of water to create a paste. Then, gently wet your jewellery and work the piece into the sections of your gemstones which are difficult to reach. After the dirt has been rubbed away, rinse and buff dry your jewellery with a soft cloth. This technique also works as a quick alternative for cleaning precious metal jewellery.
This method is ideal for:
They don’t call them pearly whites for no reason. For the third and final home remedy for cleaning your jewellery, try using toothpaste. This method is quick and highly effective. We recommend using this method specifically for ceramic and heavily tarnished, solid sterling silver.
You will need:
A soft lint free cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush
Apply a small amount of plain white toothpaste to your jewellery piece and gently rub with your finger, a soft cloth or toothbrush.
Rinse your jewellery well with warm water and buff with a soft cloth to shine.
How to Keep Your Clean Jewellery Looking Fresh
Whilst these cleaning hacks are quick and effective, to keep your jewellery looking fresher for longer we recommend:
- Taking your jewellery off before showering or bathing
- Applying perfume and deodorant before putting on your jewellery
- You remove rings when cooking, washing and before exercise
- You store jewellery safely, away from moisture
For the latest in gemstone and precious metal jewellery trends, browse our top sellers.