The Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Fine Jewelry

Fine jewelry is designed to sparkle, shine, and glow. But how often do we give our favorite pieces the TLC they need to live their best life? If you're in the habit of removing your jewelry before you bathe or shower, good on you. Soap residue and hard water deposits are prime culprits that clog up your , leaving them dull and cloudy. Hand cream is another regular offender, but so are dust and sweat. You can't avoid gunk altogether, so at some stage, you're going to be looking to clean your fine jewelry.

Let’s look at some of your options:

Professional Jewelry Cleaning

Think of it as a valet for your fine jewelry. You’re trusting some of your most beautiful assets with the pros, and they know just how to make them look brand new.

The secret behind the mini-makeover a jeweler can offer you is an ultrasonic cleaning device. When the pieces are placed in a jewelry cleaning solution in this gadget, they are then exposed to ultrasonic vibrations. The process dislodges minute particles that are clinging to the diamond and metal. It's a super gentle process that will prevent the need to use harsh chemicals or rub the jewelry.

After the jewelry's spa-like experience, it's buffed and polished using a high-speed wheel. This takes away the minute scratches, so the metal is restored to its original condition. Finally, the jewelry is exposed to a jet of steam, which removes the last of the particles sucking the shine out of it.

The only problem with ultrasonic cleaning is that not all gems can withstand the process, so check with your jeweler before you book it in.

Cleaning Your Jewels at Home

Ready for a chemistry lesson? If you can’t get your hands on a professional cleaning solution, try this on your diamond jewelry. Place ammonia or a gentle washing detergent in lukewarm water. You want the ratio of the product to be about a quarter of a cup to a cup of water. Place your diamond jewelry in the solution for 20 to 30 minutes.

You can use a soft-bristled toothbrush (brushes designed for toddler's teeth are ideal) and gently brush the jewelry to remove any dirt that may still be clinging to it. Rinse and dry using a soft cloth. If you live in a hard water area, consider using distilled water to prevent water spots forming. This solution is only suitable for non-treated diamonds.

If your fine jewelry includes other gemstones, it's best to get them cleaned at your jeweler. You can perform a gentle maintenance cleanse by using mild dish soap in lukewarm water and rub it clean with a lint-free cloth.

Alternatively, try this. Fill a cup with club soda. Add drops of soap mix and swirl it around to creates bubbles. Place the diamond ring or jewelry in the solution and let it soak for ten minutes. Stir it around to dislodge dirt and then use a soft bristled toothbrush to give it a very gentle clean.

For much more on home cleaning, read our blog post on cleaning your jewelry at home.

Going for Gold

Yellow gold, white gold, and rose gold jewelry are simple to clean at home. Ask your jeweler to recommend a commercial gold polish. You want to stick to using a chamois cloth to prevent minute scratches forming on the metal.

Alternatively, you can tackle tarnish with a solution of lukewarm water, dish soap, and a couple of drops of ammonia. Let the piece soak for a few minutes and follow up with a gentle rub using a lint-free cloth. Or you can go natural. Soak your gold jewelry in vinegar for about 20 minutes. Brush it gently, rinse and dry with a cloth afterwards. If this doesn’t work, send it over to your jeweler where an ultrasonic cleaning machine and buff will get it back to prime condition.

Caring for Platinum Jewelry

Apart from its beauty, there's a reason jewelers love working with platinum. It's robust, durable and won't tarnish or discolor. Even so, it can develop fine scratches, and it's a good idea to get your jeweler to give it a pro clean annually. If you want to keep it looking ship shape in the meanwhile, give it a clean using lukewarm water and mild dish soap and polish up using a chamois cloth. Shimansky is a pioneer in the field of platinum jewelry with a full range crafted in the purest platinum.

Why Pearls Can Be Precious

Remember, pearls are not gemstones. They're an organic substance and feature minute fissures on their surface. These indentations can trap oil and dirt, but also cleaning products. Chemicals can also damage the sensitive ‘nacre’ – the substances secreted by mollusks that give pearls their signature shine and finish.

To clean your pearl jewelry, a chamois cloth should get the job done. You can also use a damp cloth dipped in lukewarm water that contains a touch of mild dish soap. Although they started their life deep in the ocean, you actually want to avoid exposing pearls to water because they’re so porous.

Prevention Is the Best Medicine

There’s plenty you can do to reduce the regularity of a jewelry cleaning session. Keep in mind the following:

You tend to wear your exceptional pieces when you're going to an evening event that calls for a bit of glamour. If you're dressing to the nines, you're also likely to be using hairspray, fragrances, and other cosmetics. Remember, they all contain chemicals so prevent them from coming into contact with pearls and porous gems such as turquoise.

Pool party? Remove all fine jewelry before you enter a chlorinated swimming pool. Other times it's appropriate to take off your jewelry include before you garden, when you're doing house cleaning or DIY, playing a sport or hitting the gym or swimming in the ocean. Sweat leads to tarnish. And of course, when you have your daily bath or shower, take off that bling. Soap build-up is the biggest culprit of dull jewelry.

You’ve obviously in love with your diamond engagement ring but avoid handling it too much. Grease from your fingers will cling to it, taking down the shine.
At the end of the day when you remove your jewelry, wipe it down gently to remove natural skin oils.

Cleaning Dos and Don’ts

Don’t use hot water to clean your fine jewelry. The heat can cause the metals to react with the chemicals. It’s lukewarm water all the way.
Use a kitchen sieve when cleaning your pieces. And, remember to put the plug in your sink. This double safety strategy will prevent your most precious items inadvertently heading down the pipes. It sounds ridiculous, but you know it happens!
Take the opportunity when you’re cleaning your jewelry to check that the gems are still secure and there is no damage. If you spot any concerns, send it onto your jeweler to be checked over. Antique pieces are at particular risk, so ensure that stones are still secure.
Never use bleach to clean your jewelry. It’s just a big no! The same goes for wiping it down with tissues or paper towels.

Love Your Jewelry for a Lifetime

Shimansky New York designs and creates each piece in our workshop by hand. The care and precision we take in making our unique fine jewelry pieces ensure they imbued with maximum sparkle and shine. To ensure they keep looking as fabulous as the day you bought them, we recommend you professionally clean your fine jewelry at least once a year.

If you’re unsure about how to care for your diamond engagement ring, gemstones or pearls feel free to contact Shimansky New York or visit us in our showroom. We’d be happy to discuss your options and give you our expert advice on your treasures.