If you're anything like the A+T team, you hate to admit it...but you have some fine jewelry at home that needs a little extra love. Tarnish, a bit of dog hair here and there, or perhaps just something in need of a spruce-up. Never fear! Cleaning your jewelry is easier than you'd think.
There are many at-home, non-toxic alternatives to buying a jar of jewelry cleaner. Check out our how to's below, and of course, don't hesitate to reach out to us if you have any questions!
A few things to remember before you get started:
Know what you're cleaning. Look for marks on your jewelry that indicate if it's sterling or gold, and give some extra care to things that are plated or have intentional texture.
Gems differ in hardness. If you have pieces such as pearls, opals, or antique jewelry it's best to take them to a professional. Also, some stones respond to sudden heat or cold by changing color or clouding, so become friends with google if you know what kind of gem it is, or you can always stop by the shop and we can help you figure it out!
1. Platinum and Diamonds - Baking Soda, Salt, Warm Water, Soft Tooth Brush
Line a bowl with a piece of foil and fill with warm water, salt, and dish soap. Dip your soft-bristled toothbrush into water and then into the baking soda creating a paste. Scrub pieces lightly. Ultrasoft bristles or a soft, lint-free cloth will let you stay on the safe side---that super old band t-shirt of your ex's will work fine. This method can be used on harder stones and metals, like diamonds and platinum, but should be avoided for softer metals like silver and gold, as well as for pearls, turquoise, or opals
2. Silver Jewelry in Hot Water
Baking soda again makes an appearance here, as soaking silver in a mixture of the powder and hot water is a great way to get rid of tarnish. Remember to line your bowl with foil, though, as the water will get clouded with the tarnish thanks to the ion exchange. No scrubbing needed-- just grab a soft, lint-free cloth to wipe away any remaining tarnish.
3. Gold Jewelry
Gold at its purest is called 24k gold. If your jewelry is less than 24 karats, this means it's mixed with other metals (alloys). Contrary to what you might think, that's not necessarily bad-- it simply means it's harder and more durable. Gold by itself is very soft and prone to scratching, so mixing it with 10 or more parts alloy increases its longevity.
You'll want to keep this in mind when cleaning your gold, and make sure you check for a mark indicating its makeup. A jewelry cleaning solution specifically created for gold is a safe and effective way to keep your pieces in good shape, but you can make your own recipe for an at-home shine:
Using gloves, mix a gentle dish detergent (we recommend Dawn) in warm (not hot!) water. Add a few drops of ammonia, and carefully brush with a new, baby-size soft toothbrush. Place in lukewarm water to rinse, then air dry or carefully towel-dry with paper towel or regular cloth.
Dos and don'ts with gold:
Chlorine is not your friend- especially at high temperatures like in a hot tub.
Chlorine – Chlorine, especially at high temperatures like in a hot tub, can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry. Remember to remove it when cleaning with chlorine bleach, too!
*While pure gold does not tarnish, almost all gold jewelry is an alloy, as mentioned above. Depending on the percentage of other metals mixed with the gold, there is chance for tarnish. Better safe than sorry!
Gold Jewelry with Colored Gemstones
Due to the characteristics of many colored gemstones, we advise asking your jeweler about the safest at-home cleaning method for any pieces with stones other than pure diamonds.
Many natural gemstones are treated or enhanced after extraction, impacting how you should clean your jewelry.
If you need a quick polish before you’ll have a chance to visit your jeweler, skip the ammonia and give your piece a quick dip in the soap and water mixture. This method is safe for almost all colored stone jewelry.
Avoid harmful chemicals like chlorine and other bleaching agents as they can damage some gemstones and metal alloys. Also, don’t use abrasives (no matter what other internet places may say!) like those found in some metal polishes or toothpaste, as they can erode the metal and scratch some gemstones.