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How to Clean Jewelry at Home


Diamonds, gemstones, and precious metals need cleaning just like any other article of clothing. Over time, dirt, dust, and grime can dull the shine of your favorite pieces, so it’s important to take care of your jewelry to keep them sparkling. We have already talked about how to store your jewelry, now let’s talk about how to keep your jewelry clean and sparkly!

How to Clean Your Jewelry

What You Need to Know About Cleaning Diamonds

Diamonds can take a lot of damage, but are still susceptible to scratches and grime. Dirt, natural skin oils, perspiration, makeup, chlorine, hairspray and other household chemicals can seriously dull your dazzling diamonds over time.

Avoid putting on soaps and lotions with your diamonds on, as it leaves a film over the diamond that hides their brilliance. Though diamonds are among the hardest materials on earth, they can still chip and break, so avoid wearing them during intense exercise and hard labor.

How to Clean Your Diamonds

One of the simplest options is to use a commercial jewelry cleaner, which is easy to acquire from jewelry stores or department stores and often includes tools that will help you keep your diamond sparkling and safe.

There are several homemade formulas for cleaning diamonds as well. Be careful when choosing formulas however, because some elements can be acidic and abrasive to the surface of the diamond and may cause damage beyond repair (avoid agents such as toothpaste, baking soda, witch hazel, and vinegar). Some particularly powerful chemicals can actually dissolve the metal supporting your diamond or loosen the setting, so be very careful, and consult your local jeweler when in doubt.

cleaning jewelry with soapy water

Cleaning diamonds at home. Photo credit: Gemological Institute of America

The best method we have found is simply mixing a drop of mild dish detergent in warm (not hot) water. Let the jewelry soak in the water for a few minutes, longer if it is very dirty, and use a new, soft-bristled toothbrush to gently brush away the debris. Once it is cleaned, simply rinse the jewelry by soaking it in another bowl of lukewarm water. You can then dry it gently with a paper towel or cloth (just be sure the cloth won’t snag on the metal pieces).

To finish off either of these cleaning processes, buff your diamond dry with a soft cloth, and avoid touching your clean diamond with your fingers by handling it by the edges.

Caring for Gemstones

Your gemstones are also very solid but also very susceptible to grime, so they should be polished at home as well. Take the same steps to take care of your gemstones as you do with your diamonds. Also, don’t pull on the gemstone when removing it: that can cause the fitting to loosen over time!

How to Clean Your Gemstones

Most of your gemstones can be cleaned at home with the same method recommended for cleaning diamonds. Soaking your gemstones in a bowl of water combined with a few drops of dish soap, brushing them lightly with a toothbrush, and then rinsing them and patting them dry with a soft cloth will successfully eliminate the dirt and dust from the various sections of your gemstone.

Caring for Vintage Jewelry

Use extra caution when cleaning aged jewelry such as vintage or estate pieces that may have fragile settings as well as pieces with more intricate designs. These should be cleaned with a damp lint-free cloth in order to protect it from any potential damage from scrubbing.

Gemstone Ring Cleaning

This beautiful antique gemstone ring should be handled very carefully. Buff it with a lint-free cloth to really make it shine! Photo Credit: Gemological Institute of America


Cleaning Jewelry with Ultrasonic Cleaners

More powerful cleaning mechanisms, such as ultrasonic cleaners, are available for home use, but you should use this type of tool with great caution because they can damage certain kinds of gemstones. By emitting high frequency sound waves that cause the fluid to vibrate, ultrasonic cleaners can safely remove encrusted dirt to cleanse the following gemstones:

  • Amethyst
  • Chrysoberyl
  • Citrine
  • Diamond
  • Garnet
  • Iolite
  • Ruby
  • Sapphire
  • Unadorned gold jewelry

However, you should avoid using an ultrasonic cleaner on these gemstones:

  • Amber
  • Coral
  • Emerald
  • Lapis lazuli
  • Malachite
  • Pearls
  • Peridot
  • Pink tourmaline
  • Turquoise
  • Any gem with many inclusions

These organic gemstones are porous stones that require special care, so an ultrasonic cleaner is too harsh for them. Commercial silver cleaners can also harm these gemstones. Instead, clean these gemstones by wiping them with a soft cloth. To clean opals, use a soft brush to gently rub your opal with warm, soapy water. With these more delicate pieces, it is wise to bring them to a professional jeweler for cleaning.

Essential Professional Jewelry Cleaning

Cleaning your jewels at home can be quick and convenient, but you will occasionally need professional cleaning. Professionals can deep clean your jewelry we well as inspect the pieces for damage. They can recommend any services the piece may need to help make it last. A professional cleaning every six months is essential. Our second blog post on jewelry cleaning will discuss professional cleanings more in detail, so stay tuned for the conclusion of our series. In the meantime, call Brittany’s Fine Jewelry for any questions you may have about keeping your fine jewelry clean and bright.