No matter if your jewelry box is filled with silver, gold, platinum, diamonds, pearls, rubies or a lot of costume jewelry, you can safely clean them all yourself. However, the first step in cleaning jewelry at home is to inspect each piece thoroughly. You'll need to look for problems like loose, bent or otherwise damaged prongs, settings or mounts; loose or missing stones; broken clasps or missing clasps; missing, chipped or damaged stones; scratched or broken watch crystals; and scratches on metals. If you find any damage, take the pieces to a professional jeweler to have them repaired before you proceed. Even scratches on metals and stones can be polished out if they are not too deep.
Separate Jewelry First
If you're going to clean just a few pieces, you can skip this step. Otherwise, it will save time and confusion if you separate a lot of jewelry first. Place silver pieces in one spot, gold in another, diamonds in another, etc. Separate the real gemstones from costume jewelry, too. This way all the pieces that get cleaned the same way are together. Instead of skipping around from one jewelry cleaning process to another, it makes more sense to do one at a time.
Diamond, Cubic Zirconia and Other Hard Jewelry
Besides being the hardest natural material known to man, diamonds are also one of the most popular stones in the world. Known for their clarity and fluorescence, diamonds look their best after a good cleaning. And, because cubic zirconia is very hard like a diamond, cleaning jewelry that contains it will be done in the same manner.
Cleaning jewelry yourself doesn't require store-bought solutions or specific jewelry cleaning supplies. To clean your diamonds so they sparkle, all you need is a small dish, dish soap, household ammonia and a soft toothbrush. To make the diamond jewelry cleaning solution, place six parts warm water and one part household ammonia in the dish. Stir in a few drops of dish soap until suds develop, and you're ready to begin. If your diamonds are extremely dirty, you should soak them first for 15 to 20 minutes before cleaning them.
If you didn't presoak your jewelry gemstones, dip the item into the solution. Then, dip the toothbrush into the solution and gently scrub your diamonds. Even though these stones are durable, don't get overzealous in your cleaning. Make sure to clean the front, sides and back of the diamond. Don't forget to scrub the mountings as well.
When you're done with scrubbing, rinse each item thoroughly under warm running water. Place the items on a clean, soft, absorbent towel to drip-dry. Finish the process by buffing each piece dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Allow the pieces to air-dry thoroughly before you store them.
The same solution of warm water, household ammonia and dish soap can be used for cleaning other hard jewelry stones like amethyst, sapphire, ruby, etc.
The softer stones in your jewelry collection need a gentler cleaning method so they don't become damaged or marred. That's where using a soft toothbrush and clean, warm water made sudsy with a few drops of mild dish soap comes into play. Softer gemstones include emerald, beryl, garnets and quartz. Many types of fake jewelry gemstones can also be cleaned by using this method.
The softest of gemstones such as pearls, coral, opal and mother of pearl shouldn't be cleaned with harsh chemical cleaners. Instead, buy a jewelry cleaning cloth from a professional jeweler and use that. To achieve the best results, follow the manufacturer's directions.
Gold and platinum never tarnish, but silver jewelry does. A heavy accumulation of tarnish can be removed by cleaning with a soft brush and a jewelry cleaning solution: warm water mixed with a few drops of a mild dish soap and a few drops of household ammonia. Rinse the piece of silver jewelry well, and dry it with a soft, clean cloth.
A lighter accumulation of tarnish on silver jewelry can be removed by cleaning with a homemade jewelry cleaning paste. Mix just enough warm water with a bit of baking soda to make a creamy paste. Rub the paste on the jewelry with your fingers until it becomes gray in color. Then, rinse the items clean with warm water. If the tarnish wasn't completely removed, repeat the process. Finally, dry your silver jewelry with a clean, soft cloth.
Gold and Platinum Jewelry
Cleaning gold and platinum jewelry is similar to cleaning silver jewelry with one exception: you don't need to use any household ammonia. Simply mix up the same cleaning solution of mild dish soap and warm water. Use a soft brush to gently scrub each piece. Then, rinse thoroughly with warm water and dry your jewelry with a soft, clean cloth.
When to Call a Pro
Any time you're in doubt about cleaning a piece of jewelry yourself, check with a professional jeweler. Certain pieces of jewelry, such as antiques, pieces that have foil-backed stones, etc., should be cleaned only by a professional.
While exploring booths set up by individuals at my local county fair this past summer, I discovered a fantastic product for cleaning diamond jewelry. The lady who was eager to sell her product voluntarily cleaned and shined my diamond rings in a matter of seconds.
You've made an investment in a beautiful piece of gold jewelry. Congratulations! Your gold jewelry piece if given proper care should last a lifetime. The nice thing about purchasing a piece of gold jewelry is that it doesn't tarnish like sterling silver.