How to Take Care of Your Jewelry

Whether it's a 100-year-old family heirloom or a recent purchase, jewelry is the perfect finishing touch for any look. However, if you can't properly take care of it, it will start to look worn and dirty. The trick to keeping your jewelry looking its best is knowing how to take care of each type and material.

You shouldn't care for a pearl earring the same way you would care for a gold necklace. Knowing the proper procedures and techniques for each piece will make all the difference in keeping your collection looking new and shiny.

To help guide you, we've created this list. Whether you're looking for information on how to clean earrings, how to clean rings or how to take care of diamond jewelry, this article has you covered. We will discuss general jewelry tips, techniques for maintaining each type of jewelry, and protocols for cleaning the most common materials you might find in your collection.

Table of Contents

General Tips for Taking Care of Jewelry

Some rules of jewelry care are for specific types of materials, but some rules universally apply. While these rules might seem simple, they make a huge difference in preserving the beauty of your pieces.

When You're Wearing Your Jewelry

How to take care of jewelry while wearing it

Your jewelry is meant for wearing. Your beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings are of no use if you can't show them off to the world. While wearing your best pieces can help you feel your best, it also puts them at risk.

Even though jewelry is made to be worn, repeatedly wearing it can cause it to break, fall off or wear down. The more we love and wear our jewelry, the more it deteriorates.

Luckily, you can slow down this process with just a few simple steps and precautions:

  • Keep it dry: Getting jewelry wet is always bad. It can lead to cracks, a lack of shine and water stains.
  • Keep it away from chemicals: This might seem obvious, but you can find harmful chemicals in lotions, perfumes and hairspray. Keep your jewelry away from these products.
  • Put it on last: To avoid chemicals, put your jewelry on last and take it off first.
  • Rotate jewelry: Don't wear the same piece every day. Too much use will wear it down sooner. Give your other jewelry some love!
  • Know when to take it off: Most people know to take their jewelry off before they go to bed, but forget to remove it when swimming, gardening, cleaning and playing sports.

When You're Storing Your Jewelry

How to take care of jewelry when storing

When you've come home from a long night of strutting around town in your best jewelry, it's essential to store it correctly. If you don't, it might not look as beautiful the next time you put it on.

Knowing how to store your jewelry properly is just as — if not more — important than knowing how to wear it correctly. Since your jewelry spends most of its time in storage, you need to learn how to take care of it when you're not wearing it.

To get the most use out of your collection, use these tips when storing your jewelry:

  • Wipe it off before storing: Your jewelry can collect dirt, moisture and grime as you wear it throughout your busy day. If left on too long, dirt can speed up the deterioration process.
  • Keep it away from wood: Wood can stain or tarnish some materials in jewelry.
  • Keep air out: Moisture, dust and grime can travel through the air. The best storage option for jewelry is a container that lets in a minimal amount of air. Put chalk or silica packs in your jewelry container to absorb any moisture.
  • Store different types separately: When different jewelry types and materials are stored together with no barriers, they can become scratched, tarnished or tangled.
  • Travel with a jewelry case: Your jewelry is most at risk when you travel. Be sure to secure it in a high-quality travel case.

Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Services

The internet is full of do-it-yourself tutorials on how to clean your jewelry at home. While some websites offer useful tips and tricks, others recommend methods that can cause severe damage. Learning how to take care of your precious jewelry on your own is wonderful, but some procedures require the skill and equipment of a professional.

The trick is knowing the difference. Understanding which methods are safe and useful for home use — and which require the touch of a professional  is crucial for preserving your collection.

Pros and Cons of Ultrasonic Cleaners

The use of ultrasonic cleaners as a home cleaning method has increased in recent years, likely because of their low cost and effectiveness on certain types of jewelry. These machines used to be expensive pieces of equipment only found in professional shops. Now, much like other appliances, manufacturers found ways to make them more compact and cheaper for home use.

Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency sound waves that travel through a cleaning solution or water. The waves create heat and pressure that displaces dirt and debris from the jewelry. The cleaner is ideal for cleaning pieces that have dirt in hard-to-reach places.

While ultrasonic cleaners can be an excellent option for cleaning your jewelry at home, there are a few factors to consider first:

Pros

  • You can purchase an ultrasonic cleaner for as little as $30.
  • They can clean parts of jewelry that other at-home methods can't reach.

Cons

  • You can't use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean any jewelry with organic gem materials (pearls, coral, ivory, amber, tortoiseshell, shell cameos and jet).
  • Any gemstone coated in wax, plastic or oil cannot go in an ultrasonic cleaner. This type of coating often covers emerald, lapis lazuli, malachite and opal.
  • The vibrations from the ultrasonic cleaner can dislodge gemstones.

This method is a useful tool for certain types of jewelry. Before you go out and buy one, look at your jewelry collection and take note of what you can and can't clean with an ultrasonic cleaner. If you can safely clean most of the items in your collection with this tool, it's a good idea to buy one.

However, if most of your collection cannot be cleaned by an ultrasonic cleaner, you might have to look for alternative methods. While there are other D.I.Y. methods you can search for online — which we'll discuss later in this article — the best option might be to take your jewelry to a professional. 

Go to a Professional When Your Jewelry Has:

  • Hard-to-reach dust or build-up: When an ultrasonic cleaner is out of the question, and you've got some hard-to-reach grime on your jewelry, a quick trip to a professional jewelry cleaner will do the trick.
  • Loose gems: Most jewelry is an incredibly complex piece of art. If a gemstone falls out, leave it to a professional to secure it back in place. Trying to do it yourself could have disastrous results.
  • Deep scratches: If you can't buff the scratch out on your own, you'll need to take it into a professional if you want it looking good as new again.
  • Broken or lost parts: Most jewelry is small and impossible to repair without the use of specialized equipment. Unless you've got some professional equipment in your back yard, take it to an expert.

Tip: When it comes to jewelry cleaning and repair, you get what you pay for. Jewelry repair can be expensive, but great service and stunning results are worth the price.

How to Take Care of Your Jewelry

Taking care of jewelry can be a difficult task, especially when you're dealing with so many variations in type, style, length and material. The internet can offer you many ways to take care of your jewelry, but it's up to you to find the method that works best for you.

Here are a few guidelines and ways to take care of your jewelry:

How Do I Take Care of My Necklace?

How to take care of necklaces

When wearing necklaces:

  • Be aware of length: Longer necklaces are more likely to bounce around and wear down. They are also more likely to get tangled on other things or with itself.
  • Double-check the clasp: Whether your necklace is held together by a ball, barrel, fishhook or push-button clasp, always double-check to make sure it's secure. If it falls off your neck, it can easily get damaged or lost.
  • Avoid layering: Some people like to layer their necklaces for a fuller look but be careful of this. Some necklaces can break, scratch or tarnish from coming into contact with other pieces.

When storing necklaces:

  • Avoid tangling: Necklaces are typically the longest pieces of jewelry in any collection, so they are most susceptible to tangling. To avoid this while in storage, lay them flat in a drawer, let them hang freely or organize them with boxes and trays.

How Do I Take Care of My Bracelets?

How to take care of bracelets

When wearing bracelets:

  • Don't fuss with them: The key to taking care of your bracelets is to minimize wear. Of all your jewelry, bracelets are most visible. You're more likely to touch or play with them when you're bored or anxious. Not only will it add extra wear to your bracelets, but the oil from your hands will also accumulate faster on the piece. Cleaning bracelets can be a hassle, so it's best to reduce the amount of oil and dirt coming from your skin.
  • Watch your gestures: If you're the type of person who talks with your hands, this one is for you. Wild gestures can cause any loose or insecure jewelry to fall off.

When storing bracelets:

  • Avoid contact: Store bracelets flat in a drawer, hanging freely or in small boxes and trays — this will prevent them from coming in contact with other bracelets or pieces of jewelry.

How Do I Take Care of My Earrings?

How to take care of earrings

When wearing earrings:

  • Secure tightly: Earrings are typically lighter than other types of jewelry and are not in your natural line of sight. That's why they are most likely to fall off without you noticing. Unless you want to walk around with one earring, always make sure the fastener is properly in place.

Tip: Earrings with fishhook fasteners don't typically have an extra security feature to keep them in place. If you're worried about them falling out, take the fastener of a push-back earring and put it on the fishhook. If you don't have one, try spearing a bit of eraser through the tip of the fishhook.

When storing earrings:

  •  Hanging is best: The best way to store earrings is on something they can hang over or pierce through, ensuring they won't come in contact with other pieces. Plus, you'll be able to display them all for easy selection.

How Do I Take Care of My Ring?

How to take care of rings

When wearing rings:

  • Get the right fit: Whether you're shopping for a new ring or getting an old one resized, your ring should fit your finger well. Wearing a ring that's too tight can cause it to crack over time. Whereas, a ring that's too large can easily fall off and get damaged or lost.

When storing rings:

  • Keep them separate: Just like any other type of jewelry, rings need to be separated to prevent scratches or tarnishing. A jewelry tree is perfect for both separating and displaying your rings.

How to Keep Your Jewelry Looking Good:

No matter who you are, you can always find a piece of jewelry that is perfect for you. This is because of the full range of styles, forms, types, materials, colors and patterns that jewelry has to offer. Whether you want a simple chain or a complex ring with gold, pearls and diamonds, anything is possible.

Since jewelry has the potential to be incredibly complicated, it's essential to know exactly what materials make up each piece of jewelry. Not all materials are identifiable by color, so it's necessary to be aware of secondary materials in your jewelry, especially when cleaning it.

For example, how do you care for gold earrings? By soaking and drying them with a soft cloth. But how do you care for gold earrings with pearls? Very differently.

Cleaning different types of jewelry is confusing. To help, we've compiled a list of the materials you're most likely to find in your collection and instructions for how to clean your jewelry in each category.

Gold

  • Keep away from silver: Gold is a softer metal, so materials like silver can easily cause scratches if they come in contact.
  • To clean gold:
  1. Place the gold in a gentle bath of warm water
  2. Add a few drops of dish soap
  3. Let the gold soak for five minutes
  4. Take the gold out and lay it on a soft cloth
  5. Go over crevices with a soft toothbrush
  6. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth 

Silver 

  • Keep away from air: To take care of silver jewelry, you need to prevent tarnishing. Silver tarnishes because of a chemical reaction that occurs when it comes into contact with the air over a long period. Storing it in an airtight container will slow this process.
  • Polishing is better than washing: When it comes to silver, polishing is better than washing. Only clean silver jewelry with water if absolutely necessary. To polish your jewelry, you can use either liquid polishes or wipes. The liquid can get messy, so we recommend using wipes.

Tip: If you know how to clean pure silver, then you know how to clean sterling silver too. There's not a significant difference between them when it comes to cleaning and care.

Pearl

How to take care of pearl jewelry

  • Be gentle: The best way to take care of pearl jewelry is to handle it with care. Like other organic gem materials, pearls are susceptible to dents, scratches and deterioration. Always be gentle when handling or cleaning pearls.
  • Keep away from extreme light: Pearls can bleach if exposed to too much harsh light.
  • Never soak pearls: To best take care of pearls, avoid soaking them. Soaking a string of pearls can cause damage to both the pearls and the string.
  • To clean pearl jewelry:
  1. Make a mixture of warm water and a small amount of shampoo
  2. Dip a small makeup brush into the solution and brush the pearl
  3. Use a damp cloth to wipe clean

Gemstones

  • Generally, for nonporous gemstones, like diamonds, rubies and sapphires, the best cleaning method is to soak them in a solution and gently brush off any dirt or debris.
  • For porous gemstones, like emerald, turquoise and amber, it's best to brush on the solution, using a minimal amount of water, then wipe clean.
  • However, most gemstones have unique cleaning requirements. Since there are dozens of gemstones, it would be too much information to pack into this article. Please see this page for more information about how to clean diamond jewelry and other jewelry with gemstones.

How Do You Take Care of Plated Jewelry?

How to take care of plated jewelry

Plated jewelry is different from other types of jewelry, so it requires a different set of rules for cleaning. Plated jewelry is an inexpensive metal covered with a more luxury metal. Typically, jewelry makers use metals like gold, silver or platinum as the exterior metal.

This type of jewelry is less expensive and is also more vulnerable to wear. Once the plating has eroded, it's gone for good. This makes the cleaning process for this type of jewelry more complicated.

To clean gold-plated jewelry: 

  1. Place the gold in a gentle bath of warm water
  2. Add a few drops of dish soap
  3. Let the gold soak for five minutes
  4. Take the gold out and lay it on a soft cloth
  5. Go over crevices with a soft toothbrush
  6. Rinse and dry with a soft cloth

To clean silver-plated jewelry:

  1. Cover the inside of a bowl with aluminum foil
  2. Pour 1 tbsp baking soda and 1 tbsp salt into a bowl
  3. Fill the bowl half full of hot water and stir
  4. Place jewelry in the solution for 10 mins
  5. Remove and wipe dry with a lint-free cloth

How to Keep Your Jewelry Looking New

Help taking care of jewelry

While all these methods and tips will keep your jewelry looking good for a while, they can only do so much. Eventually, you'll need to take your jewelry into a professional shop. When it's time to bring your jewelry in, Mountz Jewelers can make your jewelry look like new.

Mountz Jewelers excels in all aspects of the jewelry experience, whether it be product, service, value or the customer's in-store experience.

We make a point of listening to our customers. When people become Mountz customers, we want them to remain customers for life. We believe in setting a standard for an incredible jewelry shopping experience for our customers.

Most importantly, we offer the finest quality products, the most modern exciting showrooms in the market and the most knowledgeable, friendly service.

Make an appointment today!

Tags: Jewelry

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