One of the most exhilarating aspects of a new piece of jewelry is how it gleans in the light. That sparkle you see every time you see the light catch on it just right is pretty thrilling.
Yet, over time, rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings naturally start to become scratched and tarnished. They can even become discolored from the buildup of daily dirt and grime. Lotions, body oil and smudges can all affect luster.
Jewelry and other prized pieces tarnish because of a chemical reaction between metal and oxygen. You see this a lot with silver. Any jewelry, despite the type of metal used to make it, should be cleaned consistently when worn regularly. Typically this entails gently doing some weekly or bi-weekly cleaning to keep it looking shiny.
Though you could just get the best jewelry cleaner you can find, you can actually do this at home with ingredients you probably already have on hand. We’ve researched the best ways to clean silver, gold and precious stones — and they’re incredibly simple!
How to Clean Silver at Home
The best jewelry cleaner for silver might surprise you: liquid dish soap. Mix a few drops with warm water and gently rub the silver to remove the tarnish. Then rinse with cold water and buff with a soft cloth.
If your piece is heavily tarnished, try mixing three parts baking soda to one part water to make a paste. Using a lint-free cloth, rub the paste into the jewelry, then rinse and buff.
Dedicated polishes, which come in liquids or pastes, can be messy to use, especially if you’re trying to sneak in a quick clean while you’re walking out the door. If you are in a hurry, disposable silver cleaning wipes or reusable treated cloths can remove tarnish (and restore shine!) quickly and neatly. Those might be worth the investment if you need them often.
If you’re looking for a quick DIY fix to bring a piece of silver back to life, reach for the toothpaste. This will shine it up in no time but isn’t recommended for long-term use because it won’t stop the tarnish from returning.
How to Clean Gold at Home
The best jewelry cleaner for gold is actually the same as silver: liquid dish soap. Soak pieces in warm soapy water for 5 to 15 minutes and then rinse and buff. Gold is soft and can scratch easily, so it’s best to avoid other regular household cleaners.
How to Clean Gemstones at Home
If you have diamonds, precious or semi-precious stones, such as rubies or emeralds, that need to be shined up and are set in gold, grab an old, soft toothbrush. You’ll want to grab your dish soap again, but this time reach for seltzer water, as the carbonation will loosen trapped soil and debris. Then, dip items in a bowl with cold water or run under the faucet. Just be sure to close or cover the drain as your jewelry will be slippery when wet.
How to Store Jewelry
The best way to prevent jewelry from tarnishing is to store it in felt away from other metals. Felt helps impede tarnish and moisture build-up. This is why you see it used so often in jewelry boxes.
Are you ready to bring back your jewelry’s sparkle?