11 Aug 10 Important Facts About Jewelry Cleaning
Over time jewelry can lose its right-out-of the box sparkle. Tarnishing and scratches can occur from every day contact with objects and chemicals. When looking online there are many articles about cleaning jewelry and some can actually harm your jewelry. We can restore this shine and remove light scratches be using easily available items to make your jewelry shine like brand new.
Before getting started with jewelry cleaning, here are a few tips:
• Never use or allow your jewelry to come in contact with chlorine or bleach. It is a good idea to take off your jewelry before swimming and also if you are giving someone a hair coloring.
• Jewelry will tarnish more frequently in humid climates so cleaning and polishing will be needed more frequently.
• Most of the time you will be able to clean your jewelry at home, but there are times when a professional should be the one cleaning the jewelry. If your jewelry is heavily tarnished or has soot from a fire, you should consider having it professionally polished and cleaned. The jeweler will be able to remove the stones to clean underneath. This will allow light under the stone so the stone will sparkle again.
• Before you begin handling your jewelry, check that the stones are secured on the piece by trying to wiggle each stone with your fingers.
• Loose stones will fall out while in an ultrasonic. This is actually a good thing. It is best for a stone to fall into the ultrasonic than to lose it. A jeweler can usually set the stone for you which is cheaper than having to purchase a new stone.
• Never clean your jewelry in a sink where it could fall into the drain.
There is an old wives’ tale of using toothpaste as a home remedy for cleaning jewelry. Toothpaste is abrasive and can harm fine jewelry by leaving scratches. There are You Tube videos where cheap jewelry is cleaned with toothpaste, but never use it to clean fine jewelry or anything which has a high gloss finish.
There are many articles on the internet which suggest using household items like Windex, alcohol, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and a soapy water solution. These solutions may not be harmful to your jewelry and may clean your jewelry some, but here is a little secret about how professional jewelers clean your jewelry.
Cleaning your jewelry at home
1) Check that the stones are securely set by gently trying to wiggle each stone.
2) If there are scratches or tarnishing, use a polishing cloth to bring back the shine and remove light scratches.
3) Soak your jewelry like a professional. For best results use an ultrasonic. A small bowl can be used if you do not have an ultrasonic. Pour half water and half Mr. Clean into the ultrasonic then pour a small amount of ammonia. This is a mixture that many in the jewelry industry have been using for years. This is equal to using a professional jewelry cleaning solution and is safe for all types of jewelry including pearls, opals, and emeralds. Allow to soak for 15 minutes.
4) Take your jewelry out of the ultrasonic and lightly brush with a soft toothbrush.
5) Rinse in cold water.
6) Dry your jewelry with a soft towel. A paper towel can be used as long as you don’t rub the ring. Compressed air works great and drying with steam is how the professionals do it.
More professional tips
• If you have an old opal stone which has cracked over time, try soaking the opal in baby oil for one or two days. This technique can make the cracks seam to fade away.
• If you have a tarnished sterling silver piece a mixture of baking soda and water can be used to brighten the piece. Mix just enough water with your baking soda to make a paste. Then use a soft toothbrush to clean the sterling item with the paste. Rinse with water and then dry.
• You can also use a sterling silver dip instead of the baking soda paste. The dip is easier to use and is sold at most jewelry stores for about $5.00. Simply place your jewelry on the basket included in the dip bottle and lower into the cleaning solution for 15 seconds. Rinse then dry. One example of this type of dip is named “Hagerty”.
• Most jewelry stores will clean your jewelry for free. Just ask them to clean, but not polish. Keep in mind that stones may fall out in the ultrasonic if they are loose and the jeweler will charge a small fee per a stone to set them again.
Polishing clothes, small home ultrasonics, and sterling dip can be purchased at most jewelry counters and nowadays there is a jewelry counter at most large department stores, in malls, and even at super shopping venues like Wal-mart.