How often have you forgotten to take your wedding band off while doing the dishes or taking a dip in the pool? Or maybe you forgot to put your earrings in your jewelry box before showering. You may experience a moment of panic when you realize that you’ve potentially damaged such an important possession.
Or, maybe your favorite gemstone bracelet is looking a little worse for wear from decades of love, but you’re unsure how to get it to shine like new. Here at Mark Henry Jewelry, we’ve got you covered.
To keep your jewelry looking like it did at your point of purchase, you have to put effort into keeping it safe. Tarnish and oxidation can decrease the value of a piece of jewelry.
Sometimes that means choosing more durable gems for parts of the body that bump around more often — think: a ring needs to withstand more day-to-day jostling than a necklace.
But cleaning your jewelry is a whole other ballgame, separate entirely from maintaining its safety. During the pandemic, jewelry lovers had to get a bit creative in their DIY methods of bringing that shine back to pieces. These at-home ideas are well-tested. We’ll compare their accuracy to professional means throughout this article.
With spring cleaning just around the corner, bust out those soft cloths and mild solutions. It’s time to get your dazzle back!
What To Except
Hey, life happens. Just because you understand how big of an investment your jewelry pieces are, that doesn’t mean they won’t be prone to knicks or spills. Especially during housekeeping and everyday tasks, our hands get dirty, endangering rings and bracelets.
It is essential to keep your jewelry clean to maintain its value and appearance. It’s not just that — metals (and the crevices of gem inlays) are the perfect places to grow bacteria. When you wash your hands well, you might not realize you’re skipping out on the cracks of a permanent fixture to your finger.
If you allow bacteria to build up, you’re asking for skin issues and harm to the metal itself.
If you don’t have one already, buy a tray or box specifically for your rings. Other jewelry pieces should have their own spot to be hung up or laid down. Silver and gold jewelry should be stored in felt.
Plan out a jewelry storage idea that is beautiful to you. This can serve as a reminder to take off your pieces when you’re in the water, using cleaning products, or doing anything “dirty” (painting, gardening, cooking).
Traditional hand soap, when thoroughly rinsed, should be okay to wear rings and bracelets while using. However, hand lotion leaves a distinctive oily coat and should never be applied over a gem or even costume jewelry.
Consider the Material
Not all metals, or gems, are created equal. We know this, but sometimes people can forget when it comes to cleaning processes. Make sure to consider the makeup of your product and follow the rules pertaining to the exact gems and metals involved.
What might work for a more durable mineral like a diamond could have disastrous abrasive effects on a softer stone like moonstone.
Some of the cleaning methods for gold and silver jewelry — meaning those pieces plated in gold and silver, but also for simple gold or silver chains and bands — overlap. These materials should also be kept separate from others and inside felt-lined boxes.
Both solid gold and silver can be cleaned at home using warm water. If you’re on a budget, this is the way to go. Simply put your pieces (not touching) in a bowl and rinse with hot water, leaving them alone until the water is cooled and the debris has separated itself from the metal.
Warning: don’t try this for plated jewelry or pieces with gemstones (rubies, sapphires, etc.).
White vinegar is another great option as well, and your pieces can be soaked in the solution to remove debris. Once again, do not use this on plated or gemstones with a low hardness on the Mohs Scale.
Baking soda is a better alternative to the acidity of vinegar and is excellent for silver and gold. Only let your pieces soak in water with a spoonful of it, and do not brush after a thorough rinse.
How To Clean Silver Jewelry
This metal can be cleaned easily with a DIY mixture of baking soda, salt, and water. Using a pan that has aluminum foil coating the bottom, put your pieces on the sheet. Then, add in the baking soda and salt (a tablespoon of each per cup of water). Top it all off with the water and watch as the debris magically removes itself!
Next, dry your pieces with a clean, soft cloth. If you don’t have a polishing cloth, a microfiber cloth is your best bet. Any professional jeweler will tell you that this lint-free cloth is far preferable to the abrasive paper towel.
How To Clean Diamonds
As many people know, diamonds are exceptionally hard. They rank as a 10 on the Mohs Scale of hardness, making them exceptional options for engagement rings which are worn every day. However, that does not make them the exception to a good cleaning.
One of the biggest misconceptions with diamonds, especially with engagement rings, is that they need to be cleaned excessively. Sure, they are a special symbol of your love, and they can use a nice sparkle.
Cleaning them once a week is the sweet spot. If you overdo it, you may find yourself wearing away at the shine rather than bringing it out.
Remember that the solutions we offered for solid gold and silver jewelry do not transfer to diamonds. Baking soda and vinegar can seriously damage your gemstones and should never be used with these pieces.
The absolute best, easiest, and safest way to clean a diamond (or any gemstone) is with warm water and dish soap rinse. This works if you’re trying to get rid of any grime or stains on the outer part of your stone. We prefer dish liquid, but if you’re in a pinch, mild shampoo and body wash work just as well.
All you have to do is put a few drops of dish soap into a bowl with two to three cups of water. Leave your jewelry in the bowl for 20 to 40 minutes, take them out for a non-abrasive brush (a soft-bristled toothbrush does the trick). To finish, rinse and then dry them with a microfiber cloth.
While the cleaning process for diamonds applies to most gemstones, too, some deserve special attention. Soft stones or ones that are known to have pores cannot be handled in the same manner as tough diamonds. You need to be incredibly gentle with jewelry that contains pearls, emeralds, and opals.
At Mark Henry Jewelry, we love our precious gems. Let’s break down cleaning methods for some of our favorite offerings so you can buy guilt-free with the trust that you’ll take the very best care of them.
It is quite hard since this ultra-rare gem is an 8.5 on the Mohs Scale. Don’t intentionally knock it around or place it on your hands too close to other hard gems. Otherwise, you should be fairly safe in terms of cracks, breakage, and scratching.
If someone recommends that you use an ultrasonic cleaning process on alexandrite, run for the hills. These processes are far too strong for most gemstones and shouldn’t be messed around with when handling such a precious gem. The warm, soapy water and clean toothbrush trick will work wonders here.
Another one of our Mark Henry specialties is natural turquoise. Not only is it stunning, with jaw-dropping green to blue shades, but it is also exceedingly rare and culturally meaningful. Therefore, it should always be handled with the utmost care.
It is naturally porous, so don’t wear turquoise jewelry around cleaning solutions and especially not around dirt, dust, or lotions (including makeup or anything that can sink into its cracks).
High heat can also harm it. Only warm water should be used to soak turquoise. Ditch the soap to avoid it seeping in and damaging one-of-a-kind gemstones.
Finally, we have to touch upon our beloved moonstone. This is a perfect example of a soft gem since it ranks at a 6 on the Mohs Scale. Moonstone requires a little more attention to avoid breakage and cracks. If your piece already has natural “centipede” cracks, it has spaces for dust and debris to collect.
High temperatures can crack and break moonstone and scratches from rubbing up against harder gems like diamonds on other fingers. The opaque, white tone of moonstone makes it the perfect culprit for staining.
To clean moonstone safely, use a soft brush after a warm, mildly soap water mixture. Don’t steam the water.
Consult an Expert
If you’re on the fence about any of the methods we listed before, refer to the jeweler you bought the piece from.
Sending your gemstones and metals away to a professional cleaner for a high-grade clean can be stressful, but trust that they are in good hands. Clean gemstones are beautiful gemstones.