Caring for your Gold, Silver & Gemstone Jewellery

January 12, 2021 3 min read

cleaning and caring for gold, silver and gemstone jewellery

We get lots of enquiries about caring for our jewellery, so we thought it would be useful to put a little guide together to help folks out. Don't be scared of cleaning your jewellery, but do it armed with these tips.

Cleaning Your Jewellery

Should I use a ultrasonic cleaner?

Ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners and any other type of jewellery cleaning device that uses heat or pressure, sound waves etc, should never be used on gemstone jewellery. Even if your gemstone is on the machine manufacturer's 'safe list', unless your gemstone has been properly assessed by an accredited laboratory as free from fillers, dyes, oils and incipient cleavages, do not risk it. You could pull out a very different stone than the one that went in. Even diamonds, while very resistant to scratching and abrasion, are not unbreakable - far from it - and they can also be filled with glass.

In our opinion, ultrasonic cleaners are best for solid metal jewellery only, with caution being used where the metal is plated.

Traditional Jewellery Cleaning

For a more gentle cleaning method without the use of machines, we recommend this jewellery dip from Waitrose. Drop the item in, leave it for a few minutes, then very gently clean it with the provided brush under the trickle of a cold tap. Alternatively, use a gentle soap and water mixture. The most basic soap you can find with as few additives as possible plus a very soft toothbrush.

We cannot emphasise this enough: put the plug in the sink before you start. Cleaning is the perfect time for a loose stone to fall out, and a prized gemstone disappearing down the plughole is galling. The author speaks from experience, having spent any afternoon removing half the plumbing from her kitchen trying to trace an opal (which she never found). Plug, plug, plug!

Cleaning Pearls

Pearls are very soft gemstones and care needs to be taken when cleaning. To keep pearls looking their best, we would recommend cleaning with a damp, soft cotton cloth only. Nothing more than this is needed, and this method will keep them looking their best.

Polishing Jewellery at Home

Both 9ct gold and silver jewellery will react with air and 'tarnish'. Water, sweat and chemicals will quicken any reactions. When it comes to polishing solid gold and silver jewellery, we recommend polishing with a Talk Town polish cloth or similar. These cloths can be picked up via their website or at many other retailers on the web including eBay. Talk Town make separate cloths for gold and silver, and you do need to pick the right one for your piece

Gold/silver polishing cloths are not suitable for plated or vermeil jewellery. The problem with polishing plated jewellery is the layer of plating is often very fine, less than a micron for plated (thicker for vermeil), and polishing cloths are lightly abrasive. Stick to very occasional microfibre cloth cleaning for plated jewellery.

Getting Jewellery Wet (other than when cleaning)

We recommend taking your jewellery off in the shower/ bath, and NEVER wear your jewellery in the swimming pool or sea. The salt, chlorine and who knows what else in the water will corrode it. If you wear your jewellery to the beach, remember that sand is a very efficient abrasive and it will cause damage.

Similarly, do not let moisturisers, creams, sprays and perfumes get onto your jewellery either. You risk discolouration that may not be easy to undo. We recommend you put your jewellery on last in the morning, and take it off first in the evening.

The Cardinal Sin: Sleeping in Jewellery

OK, we concede that some jewellery is designed to be slept in - sleeper earrings for example, and wedding bands. However, almost all other jewellery is not. We move constantly in our sleep, and while we are moving our jewellery is pinned between our body and the bed. Each movement stretches and strains the metal. And whether it's a chain necklace, a bracelet, an anklet or claws on a gemstone ring, you will be weakening the metal and shortening the jewellery's lifespan. Some fine chain will snap the first time you sleep in them, thicker chains will take a while but eventually will come to pieces. Always take your jewellery off before you sleep.

In Conclusion

With the proper cleaning and care, your jewellery can last a lifetime. Improper care will see the lifespan of your piece shortened, sometimes drastically.

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