Jewelry Care and Cleaning
You just got a beautiful new piece of jewelry, but you're not sure how to keep it looking bright and shiny. Or maybe you pulled an old beloved piece out of your jewelry box only to find it dark and dull. What do you do?
The good news is that if your jewelry is high quality, restoring that nearly-new sparkle will often be fairly quick and easy!
Polishing Cloths: For tarnished (dark and dull) metal, a jewelry polishing cloth often does the trick! We love Sunshine polishing cloths, and if you bought something from us one was included in your order! These little swatches of wonder consist of a soft felt-like fabric with a special jewelry polishing compound embedded in the cloth. These polishing cloths are a great go-to solution as they scrub away tarnish, smooth tiny scratches, and apply a protective coating to the metal to improve shine and slow the formation of new oxidation. Sunshine cloths are also safe on and around any stones that may be in your jewelry. The cloths are reusable until they are completely blackened, but try to resist the urge to wash them as that removes the polishing compound.
Soap and Water: If your jewelry has a thicker layer of dirt or grime built up, a safe but effective way to clean up is to simply use warm water, a soft toothbrush, and a bit of dish soap. Let the piece soak for a minute or two and then scrub all around your jewelry to get into the little crevices and details. Once any build up has been removed, let the piece dry and then finish with your polishing cloth.
Avoid the use of dip-cleaners and commercial jewelry polishing pastes and liquids. Many of these compounds can be toxic and have a high risk of corroding the metal or damaging the stones in your jewelry.
For high end jewelry with diamonds or select types of gems, a jeweler may be able to clean your piece in an ultrasonic cleaner, or with steam. While available, ultrasonic cleaners are not recommended for home use unless you are very familiar with their risks - many types of stones can be cracked or destroyed by these machines. If your jewelry has significant discoloration that these methods won't remove, or severe scratches, you may have to take it to a local jeweler for re-polishing. It's easier to prevent this kind of damage than it is to fix it.
Preventing Oxidation and Damage
One of the perks of solid silver and gold jewelry is that wearing it also keeps it clean and bright! The quickest way to let your jewelry tarnish is to leave it sitting out, untouched and exposed to the air. High humidity, elevated air pollution, and salty ocean air will speed the oxidation process along.
To protect a piece that you wear less frequently, its best to make sure it's cleaned of any grime and oils and dry, then store it in a zip-top bag or airtight container. Anti-tarnish tabs (like these) are little slips of paper that absorb oxidizing compounds from the air. Adding one in with each stored piece of jewelry will go a long way in keeping metals bright and clean.
When wearing your jewelry, keep in mind that many detergents, perfumes, cleaning supplies, and cosmetics can damage your jewelry or discolor stones. We strongly advise taking off any jewelry before showering or swimming, and using any lotions, hairsprays, perfumes etc before putting your jewelry back on to minimize how much those products interact with your jewelry. With the increased use of hand sanitizer since 2020, many people have reported rapid discoloration and corrosion of rings.
It is also important to remember that most jewelry metals are relatively soft and stones may be brittle. While a quality piece of jewelry will hold up to average everyday wear for many years, we recommend removing your jewelry, especially rings, if you are engaging in activities that have a high chance of causing your jewelry to be scratched or hit by other objects.
With a little bit of care, your jewelry can easily stay beautiful and bright for many long years!