Cleaning jewellery at home
Disappointed that your jewellery doesn’t look as amazing as it did the day you bought it? Cheer up. Luckily, you can easily clean every type of jewellery at home – pearls, gold, silver, even costume jewellery and gemstones – and keep it sparkling without using harsh chemicals or expensive cleaners. Just make sure you know what kind of jewellery you are working with to find the best way to clean it at home.
Soap residue and everyday dirt can gum up jewellery or make gemstones appear dull and flat. To keep your jewellery looking good for longer, always remove your rings when washing your hands or applying lotion to keep settings grime-free. After wearing pearls, wipe any oil or perfume off them with a soft cloth. Silver becomes shinier the more it’s worn, so don’t let it sit in your jewellery box. If you are not wearing it, put some chalk in your silver drawer to draw away any moisture or store your pieces in an anti-tarnish bag.
Here are some ways in which you can maintain your jewellery and keep it looking as good as new
Whether real, cultured, or faux, you should clean pearls with care as they can scratch easily. First, lay the strand of pearls on a soft cloth. Dip a clean makeup brush into a mixture of warm water and a little shampoo and go over each pearl with it. Polish the pearls with a clean and moist microfibre cleaning cloth. Let them dry flat to prevent the string from stretching.
Pour a few drops of dishwashing liquid into a small bowl of sparkling water or club soda to give your gold a bubble bath. Put the jewellery into a small strainer and place it in the bowl to soak for about five minutes. Swish it around and then fish out each piece to go over settings and crevices with a soft toothbrush. Return each piece to the strainer and rinse under running water. Dry with a soft microfibre cleaning cloth to shine up and polish.
Silver can tarnish after just a few hours of wear, so for pieces that are dull, filmy, or starting to discolour, mix a few drops of dishwashing liquid with warm water and then dip in a microfibre cleaning cloth. Use this to rub the jewellery before rinsing in cold water and drying with a soft clean cloth.
For heavier tarnishing, mix three tablespoons of baking soda with one tablespoon of water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a microfibre cleaning cloth. Work the paste into any holes, turning the cloth as it gets grey. Then rinse and buff dry. Avoid rubbing silver-plated jewellery too much as it could wear off the finish.
You can also put one tablespoon of baking soda and one tablespoon of salt in a glass bowl covered in tin foil. Place the jewellery in the bowl and then pour in boiling water. Soak for a few minutes and then remove the jewellery and place it on a paper towel. Polish with a microfibre cleaning cloth to remove any residue.
To degunk costume and gemstone jewellery, especially if the stones are glued rather than set, dab a microfibre cleaning cloth into a bubbly solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Gently wipe off any smudges or grime and then rinse with a cloth dampened in plain water. Pat dry and lay the pieces upside down so the moisture won’t soak into the setting. Don’t soak the pieces in water as the glue could loosen and the gems could pop off.
You can also soak non-glued gemstones for a few minutes in a solution of warm water and two drops of dishwashing liquid. Gently brush with a soft toothbrush to reach into any recessed areas. Put the jewellery back in the solution and then rinse with tap water.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.