Think about the last time you purchased a piece of jewelry. One of the things that attracted you to it was the gleam of the metal and the sparkle of the jewel. In fact, you probably would have walked right out of the store if the jewelry had looked old, dingy, or dirty. But as much as we are drawn to that sparkle, sometimes we struggle to maintain that same brilliance the jewels had when they were brand new. You don’t have to take your jewelry to the store to get it cleaned, but you do need to know how to properly care for your jewelry. With the right cleaning and maintenance, your jewelry will awe you every day just as much as it did the first day you wore it.


One of the best ways to keep your jewelry sparkling is to avoid getting it dirty as much as you can. There are a few things you can do to limit how dirty your jewelry gets:
  • Remove your jewelry when appropriate.
    • Remove bracelets and rings before digging in the dirt. At a minimum, remove bracelets and wear gloves.
    • If you plan on sticking your hand in a turkey or kneading a loaf of bread, don’t forget to remove your ring. The setting is a great place for food bits and juices to hide.
    • Take off your rings before you use chemicals to clean your house. The bleach found in many household cleaners can discolor the mounting on your ring.
  • Put your makeup on before your jewelry. When you apply eyeshadow or powder, there will be leftovers that fall down. These can land on your jewelry, causing it to get dirty. Pearls are especially vulnerable to discoloration from makeup.
  • Wear it often. Did you know that the oils on your skin are great for your jewelry? The oil can make your silver shine and it can bring more luster to your pearls.

Choose Your Cleaning Methods Carefully

Most times, it is completely fine to clean your jewelry at home. However, you want to make sure you do it right. There is a lot of do-it-yourself jewelry cleaning advice available, but if you choose the wrong cleaning method you could damage your jewelry. Keep the following in mind:
  • Do not soak your diamonds in soapy water. Soap will dull the shine of the diamond. Instead, use an ammonia-based cleaner.
  • For materials that can be cleaned with soap and water, be sure to use lukewarm water. Softer jewels like opals or emeralds can be sensitive to drastic temperature changes. Consequently, very hot water may cause cracks. On the other hand, very cold water can make it more difficult to remove dirt.
  • Use a soft brush. Avoid using hard bristles when cleaning your jewelry as this can cause scratches. Soft bristle toothbrushes work fine, but special jewelry brushes are best.
  • Pearls should be cleaned by wiping them with a mixture of warm water and a mild detergent. Never soak pearls as doing so can weaken the string.
  • Diamond cleaner is good for most other jewels too, except emeralds. Emeralds are a softer jewel and as such, they may have cracks. These cracks can catch the cleaner and cause buildup. In addition, ultrasonic cleaners and steam based cleaners are not good for these softer jewels. For emeralds, it’s best to stick with plain soap and water.

Avoid Catastrophe

If you are cleaning your jewelry in the sink, be sure to plug the sink before you begin. The last thing you want to do is lose your ring down the sink. Also, if you are removing your jewelry so it does not get dirty, store it in a safe place. Do not leave it by the sink or somewhere where young hands can get to it. It is best to put it in a designated place like a jewelry box. Maintaining your jewelry is simple and only takes a few minutes. Take care of your jewelry and enjoy it for years to come.