If you have that special piece of jewelry you haven’t taken off in a while, you may notice it may have lost its sparkle. Soap, lotion, dirt and sunscreen for example can leave a film that dulls the sparkle of gemstones, and we all know what happens to sterling silver.
Any qualified jeweler can clean your jewelry, but it’s really not that difficult to do it yourself. Here are some easy, do-it-yourself ways to keep your precious jewelry looking like new.
• We will recommend cleaning fine jewelry regularly by soaking it for a few minutes in warm (not hot) water with a mild detergent, then brush gently with a soft toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and pat dry with a lint-free cloth. I sometimes throw a couple pieces into a jar of our own Astwood Dickinson pot of jewelry cleaner, let it soak, clean it with the little brush that comes with it and polish with an soft cloth like an eyeglasses cloth.
• How to get the sparkle back into seriously grimy rubies, sapphires or diamonds? Hot water mixed half-and-half with ammonia removes built-up grime from diamonds and corundum (rubies and sapphires), but please avoid ammonia on all other gemstones.
• Due to its unusual glass-like structure and high water content, opals are prone to cracking. Avoid exposing opal jewelry to extreme temperature changes, arid conditions and prolonged submersion in water. To keep opals from drying out, store them in a plastic bag with a damp cotton ball.
• If you need to clean a lot of jewelry at once, I know some people who swear by a higher end ultrasonic cleaner. If you do want to go down the ultrasonic or steam cleaning route, then pop in to our stores and we will gladly give your precious jewelry that freshen up they deserve.
• Because silk thread can wear thin, pearls and other frequently worn beads should be restrung once a year with constant wear. A rule of thumb: if you can hear your jewelry when you wear it, it’s time for a tune-up.
• Keep lotions and perfumes away from pearls since the fumes can produce a chemical reaction that will erode the pearl surfaces. Quite simply, get ready for your night out, put your hairspray or perfume on and let it dry before putting your pearls on, and then when you get home, ideally give them a small caress with a soft cloth before returning them to your jewelry box.
• What to do when your metal jewelry loses its finish? If you stack gold bangles or rings, they can scratch against each other to the point of dullness. Conversely, a satin finish will polish up if you wear a piece enough. We can always remove those scratches and refresh the finish on metal jewelry by sanding and polishing. Ask for these services when you bring your jewelry in for cleaning.
• Wash sterling silver jewelry frequently in warm water with mild detergent and dry immediately to avoid spotting. To polish, you can apply a mild silver polish with a soft cloth, using a natural-bristle brush for decorative trim, buff gently and remove any remaining polish with warm sudsy water. Be gentle with oxidized silver — over-zealous cleaning can remove the finish of its deliberately blackened surface. We do sell jewelry polishing cloths for exactly this task, it can be time consuming, but the results are very worthwhile. Wear latex gloves though because your hands will turn black quickly if you go on a polishing binge.
It’s well worth the trouble. Is there anything more satisfying that making your jewelry look like new again? I find jewelry-cleaning a very satisfying ritual.