Everyone has those special pieces of jewelry that carry extra significance. They may not be the ones that are worth the most, but they’re the ones you hold closest to your heart. Some come from loved ones, while others are handed down from generation to generation. What all of these pieces have in common is that they deserve some special care.
The problem is that all fine jewelry is vulnerable to deterioration. Gold may be corrosion-proof, but it’s soft and thus easily dented. Diamonds are hard but can be corroded by exposure to certain chemicals. If you want to keep your most treasured pieces of jewelry looking amazing, you need to learn how to care for each of them.
Which Pieces Require the Most Attention?
From family heirlooms to quality engagement rings, people tend to pay the most attention to jewelry that holds the most sentimental value. However, all fine jewelry deserves love and care, and the pieces you wear the most should be at the top of your list.
Instead of devoting all your attention to one or two of your favorite pieces, you could develop a cleaning schedule that takes all of them into account. Here’s what experts recommend:
You should gently clean any jewelry you wear upon removing it. In most cases, there’s no need to break out specialized jewelry cleaners, though. Removing oil with a soft cloth is generally enough for daily maintenance.
Some types of jewelry require frequent cleaning. Earrings, for example, should be cleaned every one to two weeks, depending on how often you wear them. They come into much closer contact with your body than any other type of jewelry, so failing to clean them frequently is highly unhygienic.
Every month, take the time to clean everything in your jewelry box. Pieces that you wear often or that are prone to getting dirty, such as earrings, might need more frequent cleaning, but none of your jewelry should get left to collect dust for months at a time. Remember, failing to keep your jewelry clean can have consequences not just in terms of premature wear to your favorite rings, necklaces, and bracelets but also in terms of your health.
Even if you’ve stayed on top of weekly and monthly cleanings, you should still bring all of your valuable or frequently worn fine jewelry in to be cleaned by a professional at least once a year. Some experts recommend doing so as often as every six months. Most have ultrasonic cleaners. These machines are highly effective at dissolving oil and removing dirt found in hard-to-reach places.
How to Clean Each Type of Jewelry
You can’t just toss all of your jewelry into a dishpan when it’s time to wash it. Handle every piece carefully and be sure that the cleaning methods you employ are appropriate for the materials it features.
How to Clean Gold
Gold is very resistant to corrosion, even when it’s an alloy. White gold, for example, is typically mixed with lower-karat gold but it is still tarnish-resistant. The trade-off is that gold is very susceptible to scratches. You should only use lint-free microfiber or chamois leather cloth to clean gold jewelry. All it takes is one minute of soaking in a small bowl of warm water with just a drop of dish soap, then about a minute of gentle scrubbing.
How to Clean Rose Gold
Of all the gold alloys, rose gold is the hardest. The same copper that gives the gold its rosy hue also helps to prevent scratching, and the more copper the rose gold has, the more durable it is. You can use warm, soapy water and any cloth or even a clean toothbrush to clean rose gold, but avoid abrasive chemicals.
How to Clean Silver
Silver jewelry is very prone to tarnishing. Sterling silver is mixed with other metals, most frequently copper, which makes it even more likely to tarnish. You can clean it with a polishing cloth or piece of felt but don’t get it wet. While water is unlikely to damage silver jewelry, the chemicals found in tap water such as chlorine, fluoride, and salts can all cause significant damage.
How to Clean Pearls
Clean pearl necklaces with a dry cloth after each time you wear them. If it’s been a while since the last time you cleaned them, try using a cloth soaked in highly diluted dish soap. You shouldn’t submerge the pearls, though, because it can weaken the thread on which they are strung. Pearls are also physically delicate and prone to scratching, so exercise as much care when cleaning them as you do when wearing them.
How to Clean Gems
Opaque gems such as turquoise, malachite, and lapis lazuli look beautiful in earrings, rings, and other types of fine jewelry, as do amber, opal, and coral. Unfortunately, these gorgeous gemstones are also the most vulnerable ones you’ll find. Because they’re both soft and porous, you should avoid exposing them to abrasive chemicals. Instead, wipe away dirt and dust with a soft cloth. If you need to, use lukewarm water to wet the cloth, but don’t submerge the gems.
Best Practices for Storing Jewelry
Storing your jewelry properly can help keep it clean, no matter the materials. You should always:
- Store metals separately.
- Keep jewelry dry.
- Store fine jewelry in cool, dark places.
- Separate pieces by stones.
- Hang pearls instead of laying them down.
- Avoid touching gems directly.
These best practices won’t prevent the need for routine cleaning. However, they will help to ensure that all your hard work does not go to waste as a result of UV damage, corrosion, or scratches from harder gems in your collection.
Fine Jewelry Is Worth the Work
Fine jewelry is an investment, and it deserves to be treated with care. Avoid the temptation to put all your energy towards your favorite pieces at the expense of the rest of your collection. If you have questions about how to care for your fine jewelry, reach out with questions. We’ll be happy to help.