Gemstones Cleaning List
General Information on Jewelry
For Gemstone Jewelry in Gold and Platinum
For Fashion and Costume Jewelry
For Oxidized Jewelry
For Silver Jewelry
For Electroplate Jewelry
First let me say that just for taking a few minutes to browse
in their store, most any jeweler would be happy to clean your
jewelry properly while you wait. They will also happily give it
a quick polish, which a home cleaning can't provide, and to check
your prongs to ensure the safety of your stones. It is probably
better to have karat gold and precious metal gemstone jewelry
cleaned by a professional jeweler at least once every six months
to ensure the safety of your gemstones and to take advantage of
the professional polish. Otherwise, home cleaning is a great way
to keep your jewelry in like-new condition.
Types: There are many different kinds of commercial jewelry
cleaners, which are made for different metals and gemstones. Be
sure your cleaner is meant for the type of jewelry or gemstone
you are cleaning. For instance, most Black Onyx, Turquoise, Pearl,
Shell and soft gemstones like Emerald and Opal should not be cleaned
with a generic jewelry cleaner. Always follow the directions that
come with your jewelry cleaner.
Use: Do not use a cleaner meant for one kind of jewelry
cleaner on another without the advice of the manufacturer or your
local jeweler. If you have an ultrasonic cleaner and you run out
of the commercial cleaner, a mild dishwashing detergent and lukewarm
(never hot!) water (1 tsp. to 1 quart water) will do the trick.
Storage: Always follow the directions for any particular
cleaning product and maintain the freshness of the cleaner by
storing it in a tightly-sealed container. Stale or contaminated
cleaners could be ineffective or even damage your jewelry so check
to see if your jewelry cleaner indicates an expiration date or
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- A clean bowl (better NOT to use a sink basin for washing)
- Lukewarm water (never hot water)
- Mild dishwashing liquid or a mild jewelry cleaning solution
which is safe for the specific jewelry you are cleaning
- A very fine mesh plastic or stainless steel strainer
for items with gemstones
- Soft, clean, dry cloth (note: any dust or dirt on the
cloth may scratch the piece)
- Small, unused soft bristled toothbrush or brush (toothpaste
residue will scratch jewelry)
For older items with
gemstones, check the setting to make sure that stones are secure.
Dirt and residue can fool you and act as a "cement,"
keeping the stone in place even if the setting has been rendered
weak from wear. If this is the case, when the residue is removed
during cleaning, the loose stone may fall out. If working over
or near a sink, plug the drain.
If using a mild
jewelry cleaning solution, pour the solution into a clean bowl.
You can also make your own solution by combining lukewarm water
and mild dishwashing liquid. (2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid
to 1 quart of water) For items with gemstones, place the piece
in a strainer and sit the strainer on top of the bowl so that
the solution comes through the strainer and completely surrounds
the piece. The strainer will catch any stones that might possibly
fall out so be sure the holes in the strainer are smaller than
your smallest stones.
For other items, simply place the piece in the bowl. Soak the
item for 10 to 20 minutes. (It is important to soak the piece
long enough to soften and loosen any residue and dirt.)
For items with gemstones, remove the strainer to a large towel
and inspect your jewelry to make sure that all the stones are
in place and cannot be shifted or rotated in their settings.*
Thoroughly, but gently, brush the top, sides and bottom of the
piece with a soft brush to remove the softened residue. For gemstones,
you should also brush the underside of the stone. If you are afraid
of popping out a stone, put the the piece and the brush in a ziplock
bag and close it as best you can. Use a toothpick to reach crevices
and other hard-to-reach areas.
(*One trick I use is to clean and dry the piece,
and then place it in a sealed ziplock bag to catch the stones,
and then hold it upright or place it against the washing machine
when it is on spin. In good light you can see which stones are
jumping or rotating in their prongs and some may pop right out
into the bag.)
clean water. Thoroughly dry with a cloth that is soft, dry and
clean. If you are to store the piece immediately after cleaning,
you should leave the piece on a dry towel for an extended period
of time to ensure that it is completely dry before you enclose
it in a box, jewelry box or armoire.
If all the residue has not been removed, repeat the above steps
as needed, taking extra care to avoid losing small gemstones.
Gemstone Cleaning and note those exceptions below.
|Although this gemstone is durable, its unique
internal components require extra-special care. Use the same
cleaning method as outlined for Gemstone
Jewelry in Gold and Platinum. HOWEVER, please use cool
water instead of lukewarm water and soak briefly for no more
than 5 minutes. Air dry on a towel to ensure complete dryness.
||Do not use hot water, an ultrasonic cleaner
or a steamer.
Do not expose to heavy pressure or extreme heat.
Do not expose to harsh or concentrated cleaning solutions
and if using a mild cleaning solution, always dilute the solutions
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Costume jewelry, also known
as fashion jewelry, can be made with designs that allow you to
wear your jewelry for any occasion. However, because jeweler's
cement is often used to create those designs, it is important
that you take special precautions when cleaning your costume/fashion
|Wipe gently with a damp cloth that is soft and
clean. Do not soak or use jewelry cleaner. Dry with a soft,
clean, absorbent cloth. Air dry on a dry, soft towel to ensure
it is completely dry before storing it.
||Do not use hot water, a steamer or an ultrasonic
Do not soak in water.
Do not expose to cleaning agents or other chemicals.
Do not expose to extreme heat.
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Oxidized jewelry is usually silver with an attractive
dark patina as a background to a raised motif.
Unless the jewelry is in a closed-back setting, use the
method above but do not
If the entire surface of the piece is intentionally accented
with oxidization, do not use any tarnish-remover product,
such as silver polish, paste, or dip, on the piece as it
could remove the accented finish. Instead, use a treated
polishing cloth made specifically for jewelry with gentle
strokes, making sure to avoid the darkened oxidized areas.
If the piece is only partially accented and oxidized, you
can use tarnish-remover on the unaccented areas. However,
make sure that the tarnish-remover does not come in contact
with any dark oxidized finish. Use a cotton swab which is
lightly moistened to get more control of where the tarnish
|Do not use hot water to clean. Do not use a
steamer or an ultrasonic cleaner to clean.
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"Silver" is a relative term in jewelry. Sometimes it
means a silver finish covered with a shiny coating of rhodium,
or in the case of coins and some older jewelry, a grade of silver
more pure than is generally used for jewelry. Cleaning silver
can be tricky. Test your cleaning technique on a less-visible
surface of the item to be sure how it will affect your piece of
In general, I find it better to quickly wash off the piece in
lukewarm soapy water, dry thoroughly with a dry soft cloth, and
then use a new, gentle jewelry polishing cloth. Be very careful
not to scratch the surface with existing grit on either the jewelry
or the cloth. You can also use a very mild tarnish remover which
indicates it is safe for all silver finishes. If you use the technique
for gold and platinum jewelry, do
not soak the jewelry unattended unless you are using a tarnish
remover after cleaning as some silver will tarnish quickly in
jewelry cleaners or if soaked a long time. I recommend you use
the detergent mixture (2 tablespoons of dishwashing liquid to
1 quart of water) instead of a general jewelry cleaner.
If you are still unsure of cleaning your silver items, ask your
local jeweler to clean them or to advise you of the proper method.
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Some hollow jewelry is made by adding layers of
karat gold or silver over an extremely thin wax or plastic shell,
and this wax or plastic is contained within the jewelry during
its lifetime. This process creates a light weight piece, and is
usually reserved for earrings, pendants and pins in order to keep
them cost effective.
Never clean lightweight or hollow jewelry, such as electroplate
jewelry, in an ultrasonic cleaner or in hot water. This shell
can be compromised and actually leak from the piece (possibly
ruining it and gunking up the ultrasonic) if not cleaned properly.
Even polishing on a motorized jewelers polishing machine can cause
enough heat to affect the piece. Use a mild soap solution (2 tablespoons
of dishwashing liquid to 1 quart of water)and then a polishing
cloth method as used for silver (see above)
for electroplate jewelry.
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