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Cleaning Jewelry: How (and How Often) To Do It

Written by Anna Currell
September 2, 2022

Does your jewelry or watch need to be cleaned? If you’re asking, the answer is probably yes! Most people wait until their jewelry is discolored or unwearable before they ever think of cleaning it, and then it’s likely to be too late. If your favorite pieces are looking a little dingy, don’t fret, and don’t put off a professional cleaning; it’s easy to restore your jewelry with a jeweler’s help. There are also plenty of things you can do to keep your pieces in tip top shape between cleanings. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning jewelry:

Signs Your Jewelry Needs to Be Cleaned

If the appearance of your jewelry or watch is changing slightly, the piece might be calling out for attention. Pay attention to these signs to know when it’s time for a cleaning:

professional-jewelry-cleaning-dirty-ring

A before and after example of a ring in need of a cleaning!

  1. The metal is tarnished. Tarnishing is a chemical reaction that changes the appearance of metal. You can spot it by checking for these clues:
    1. Color: Compare your piece to jewelry made of the same metal. Is the color different? If that brand new gold necklace is looking bright and yellow, while the engagement ring that you wear every day is a darker, browner shade, that could mean your ring is tarnished. On costume jewelry, you might even notice that the metal has started turning green.
    2. Shine: Look at the shine and reflection of the metal. Does the metal seem dull and flat? Lackluster jewelry that doesn’t sparkle or glisten the way it used to is probably starting to tarnish.
    3. Rust: Notice the overall appearance of your jewelry. If a piece you bought brand new isn’t looking as impeccable as it once did, if it’s starting to look like a vintage or antique piece, or if it’s starting to rust, it’s likely tarnished.
  2. The gem is cloudy or discolored. When gemstones are cloudy, dull, or discolored, it often means that there’s a layer of film built up on the surface. Grease, dirt, bacteria, cosmetics, and even natural oils from your body can contribute to this film, but luckily it doesn’t mean your jewelry is permanently damaged. This residue can easily be removed with a deep cleaning that will reveal the stone’s natural brilliance again.
    gold-ring-scratched-jewelry

    There are some visible scratches on this gold ring. Time for a cleaning!

  3. There are visible scratches. Both metals and gems can become scratched with everyday wear. Scratching can happen from exposure to common substances like sand or through strenuous activities like weightlifting and high-impact sports. Some gems and metals are more easily damaged than others — for example, gold is more durable than silver, and diamonds are more scratch-resistant than opal. Good news, though: scratches can often be buffed out or repaired!

The bottom line is that you can tell with nothing more than your eyes and a little attention if your jewelry or watch is in need of a good cleaning — and so can other people! The sooner you get your jewelry cleaned, the better. 

Can I Clean My Jewelry at Home?

Yes, you can clean your jewelry at home! Like anything, there are good ways and worse ways to do so. Here are some helpful tips:

What You Should Do:

The best way to keep your jewelry safe is to wipe it down with a jewelry polishing cloth after each wear, or every few days if you’re wearing the piece daily. That will remove any residue the jewelry accumulates during the day and will prevent it from developing that layer of film that dulls its appearance. There are also jewelry cleaning and polishing kits that are safe to use at home, or you can even use dish soap in a pinch — just be careful and gentle!

What You Should NOT Do:homemade-jewelry-cleaner

Don’t create an at-home cleaning solution. Despite what the internet says, products like toothpaste, chemicals, vinegar, baking soda, bleach can hurt your jewelry, and they often do more harm than good. By attempting a DIY remedy for any of these more difficult issues, you’re more likely to damage the ring. Any abrasion (caused by cleaning your jewelry with a toothbrush, for example,) can scratch the piece’s surface and could even loosen a gem setting. To keep your jewelry at its safest, don’t use any cleaning product you’re unsure about.

So How Often Should Get My Jewelry Cleaned?

You should get your jewelry professionally cleaned every six months, and use your jewelry polishing cloth in between cleanings for preventative care. You can do a deeper cleaning at home with a kit for monthly maintenance, but there's no substitute for an expert’s in-depth cleaning process; a professional jeweler will polish your jewelry, submerge it in a safe ultrasonic cleaning solution, and perform a steam cleaning to bring back your jewelry’s original glow. Your jeweler can even provide services like gold plating if your metal jewelry is starting to wear down.

Be Proactive to Get Ahead of The Grime

Don’t wait until your jewelry loses its sparkle to think about cleaning. There are some simple and hugely beneficial ways to prevent dirt accumulation or damage.

Avoid Wearing Jewelry During Certain Activities

There are many activities that will increase the chances of tarnishing your jewelry. It’s best to avoid activities like showering, washing the dishes, swimming, cooking, and playing certain sports with your jewelry on. Make a habit of taking off your jewelry and storing it safely while you’re doing any of these activities.

Send Your Jewelry to the Spa

Quick Jewelry Repairs’ Spa Services include steam cleaning, stone tightening, and polishing for your rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, pendants, and more. Giving your jewelry the full spa treatment will prevent residue buildup, remove any scratches from daily exposure to the elements, and keep your jewelry looking as new as the day you first wore it. 

No matter what kind of jewelry you wear, there are plenty of ways to take care of your most beloved items. Whether your ring needs polishing, your necklace needs a deep cleaning, or your watch band needs refinishing, Quick Jewelry Repairs is here to help!

jewelry cleaning before and after

Before and After a Deep Ring Cleaning

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