How to clean your jewellery: Using toothpaste or vinegar may do more harm than good
Whether it’s costume jewellery, a family heirloom or your wedding ring, your baubles need some TLC to last longer. Here are simple tips on how to clean your bling.
Jewellery typically doesn’t come cheap. For that investment, you’ll expect these to last forever or for a very long time at least. That assumption can turn into reality if you give these the care and maintenance they need.
Like many other fancy objects, jewellery needs a good cleaning every now and then, and also regular “servicing” so that any damage can be repaired or even prevented from happening. Besides that, a little attention applied to how you are wearing your diamonds, gems and pearls will help preserve their beauty.
You’ll appreciate the importance of jewellery care even more so when it comes to sentimental pieces like heirlooms or a wedding ring, which you wouldn’t want to risk losing. So here’s what you need to do to keep your most valuable jewellery pieces in perfect shape.
PUT ON JEWELLERY LAST
Rule number one is a no-brainer that applies to all kinds of jewellery, even costume jewellery – if you want these to last longer than they typically do, that is. Always apply lotion, perfume or hairspray before putting on your jewellery, so as to keep the metals from getting in contact with substances such as alcohol, which could tarnish, corrode, or even cause cracks in your precious accessories.
TAKE IT OFF EVERY NIGHT
Some people are used to wearing their jewellery 24/7, particularly pieces such as stud earrings and wedding or engagement rings. You may like to keep your most sentimental jewellery close to you all the time but here’s news – you’re more likely to damage these by never taking them off.
Regular maintenance is essential – at least once a year, particularly for jewellery that features many linked components and stone settings.
First of all, when you take a shower or bath with your jewellery pieces on, you’re exposing these to steam and moisture, along with other emollient substances in your toiletries, which can degrade metals over time or dull the sparkle of precious gems such as diamonds. On top of that, should a component of the jewellery happen to come loose while you’re in the shower, it’s likely that it’ll be sent down the drain hole and lost for good. God forbid that it should be an errant diamond that has escaped from its setting.
Sleeping with your jewellery is also a no-no – chains and hooks on bracelets and necklaces can be bent out of shape as you toss and turn in bed, while stone settings can easily come loose should you carelessly snag the prongs on a pillowcase or blanket.
DON’T WEAR IT WHEN YOU’RE BUSY DOING STUFF
Obviously, don’t wear your jewellery when swimming or pounding the treadmill at the gym. In fact, leave your accessories at home or in your locker when you are doing any sporting activity during which you are bound to sweat.
Remove your rings when doing any baking or cooking that requires kneading or mixing of ingredients with your hands. It goes without saying that all sorts of nasty germs could be hidden in the nooks and crannies of your rings. What’s more, the ingredients can easily get stuck within setting prongs and crevices, which are difficult to remove thoroughly.
HAVE SETTINGS CHECKED REGULARLY
Most reputable jewellers are happy to clean and check your fine jewellery for free, as long as your pieces were purchased at their stores. Regular maintenance is essential – at least once a year, particularly for jewellery that feature many linked components and stone settings.
It’s not that uncommon for gems to come loose from jewellery, whether they be set into a prong or bezel setting. This happens to even pieces from the finest brands and may not entirely be an issue of substandard quality. When you wear your jewellery regularly, they are subject to the effects of different environmental conditions – precious metals like gold, silver and platinum can expand or contract when exposed to varying temperatures and also be bent out of shape when handled carelessly.
ZIPLOC YOUR SILVER TO KEEP IT SHINY
Silver tarnishes very easily, particularly in our humid weather. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to remove the discolouration – all you need is a polishing cloth or solution that is specifically made for cleaning the metal.
A smart and easy way to keep your silver pieces looking freshly polished for longer – instead of storing them in a jewellery box or bag, put them in mini-sized Ziploc bags.
It is, however, a chore to have to polish silver jewellery repeatedly. Hands up if you’ve ever taken out a piece that has been polished and kept away not too long ago, only to find it tarnished yet again.
Here’s a smart and easy way to keep your silver pieces looking freshly polished for longer – instead of storing them in a jewellery box or bag, put them in mini-sized Ziploc bags, which will do a much better job of keeping them sealed away from the air. You’ll find these still in a gleaming state when you next want to wear them again.
PROVIDE THE RIGHT TYPE OF STORAGE
There’s a reason why a plush clamshell box is always provided with a fine jewellery purchase – these provide the best storage for your prized accessories, even though these may not be great for those who are strapped for space.
Can’t contain your ever-growing collection of jewellery boxes within your shelves or cabinets? Try stackable jewellery trays, which can be easily found online – these velvet- or suede-lined compartmentalised storage solutions protect your jewellery and keep these neatly organised, so that you can easily access the pieces you’d like to wear for the day.
Never store multiple pieces together in a box or bag or simply leave your jewellery lying on a hard surface – the abrasion will cause scratches on shiny surfaces. Keep these separate, in soft bags or containers with a soft lining and, as far as possible, away from exposure to air and extreme temperature changes.
USING SOAP IS GOOD ENOUGH
Do not clean your jewellery with toothpaste, vinegar or baking soda – three substances that are popularly said to do the job quickly. These household items may be able to remove grime effectively but can be too harsh on fine jewellery.
Do not clean your jewellery with toothpaste, vinegar or baking soda – three substances that are popularly said to do the job quickly.
If you would like to clean your jewellery at home, a simple solution of water mixed with a few drops of mild dishwashing soap will suffice. Soak the jewellery in it for five to 10 minutes and then go over the surfaces gently with an old toothbrush (soft bristles, please) to dislodge any dirt stuck in tiny crevices. Rinse with water, then wipe away the moisture with a soft cloth and lay the jewellery pieces on top of a dry cloth so as to allow them to air-dry completely before storing them.
PEARLS DEMAND EXTRA ATTENTION
Pearls are particularly delicate and need to be given more care as compared to diamonds and other gems. The nacre (the coating on their surface) can be very easily marked, scratched or chipped, so these are best worn on the ears and around the neck (in a manageable length) where they are less likely to be damaged by sharp objects or hard impact.
Pearls also need to be worn frequently if you wish to keep them in tip-top condition.
Jewellers recommend that pearls be cleaned every time you wear these to remove the perspiration or oil from contact with your skin. Never run these directly under water, soak in water or soap though – just give a gentle polishing with a soft, dry cloth before you store them.
Strange as it may sound, pearls also need to be worn frequently if you wish to keep them in tip-top condition. The reason is that pearls need to “breathe”, and do so by drawing moisture from the air or your skin. Without the moisture, the surface can become dehydrated and brittle, which is why you should not store these in airtight bags or spaces like safes.
Finally, pearl string necklaces need to be restrung preferably once a year, if you wear these often. Such necklaces are strung with fine threads that can degrade, weaken and break with wear and tear, so it’s necessary to get your jeweller to change these out before it actually happens. Another word of caution: Never hang these up as this will add stress on the fine threads – always store your pearls lying down flat.