The Art of Jewelry Cleaning: How to Clean Your Jewelry

Few things are more eye-catching than shiny, beautiful pieces of jewelry. Gold and silver charms glimmer elegantly on a bracelet. Diamond rings sparkle in the light, while lustrous pearls and opals have a softer charm. However, over time your beautiful pieces can lose the shimmer that they had at the jewelry store.

A few different factors can make your jewelry lose its shine. Repeated wear can cause dirt and oils to build up on your jewelry, especially in the creases of intricate designs. Rings are subjected to many of the substances that your hands touch, including food, soap, and water. And some metals, including silver, copper, and brass, tarnish over time simply through contact with the air.

No matter the reason, with the right tools, you can work to restore your lackluster jewelry to its original beauty. While some jewelry will need the care of a professional, many pieces can be cleaned at home, often with products you already have. 

Generally, most pieces of jewelry will brighten up with mild dish soap and some warm water. Gentle scrubbing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, as well as an occasional soak, will clean the majority of the buildup off. (Exceptions to this method would include platinum, which scratches easily, and certain jewels, included below.)

Gold and Sterling Silver

Jewelry made of precious metals, like gold or sterling silver, set with gems like diamonds, rubies, emeralds, or sapphires, is most often safe to clean yourself. Most jewelry cleaners you can buy (like this one) will do the trick. If you’d prefer a home remedy, Reader’s Digest suggests a 10-minute soak in a water-ammonia solution. Add ½ cup ammonia to 1 cup of warm water, soak your jewelry, gently wipe it with a soft cloth, and allow it to dry.


As mentioned earlier, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires are durable enough to be cleaned along with gold and silver. However, another way to brighten up your gemstones makes use of club soda. Submerge them in a full glass of club soda overnight, and by the morning, they will be sparkling like new. 

Not all jewels are as resilient as those listed above. Gems like opals, coral, turquoise, and pearls have more sensitive surfaces that may be harmed by at-home solutions. It is recommended to take these pieces of jewelry to a professional jewelry store near you, so they aren’t permanently harmed in the cleaning process.

Antique Jewelry

Antique jewelry certainly holds an old-fashioned allure, and vintage necklaces and earrings are treasures in many collections. However, these antiques require special attention when cleaning. While some can be cleaned with soap and water, other pieces will be harmed by even just contacting water. It’s a good idea to consult a jeweler for advice regarding these unique pieces. 

Costume Jewelry

Even the less expensive pieces in your collection need care and attention. However, due to their construction, usually using glue that can wear off, or cheaper metals under the shiny plating, their cleaning requires more gentleness and delicacy. Most often, these pieces should be wiped with a soft cloth, and a liquid cleaner should rarely be used. 

As you care for your jewelry, you can increase its vibrance and longevity. Use a combination of home remedies and professional care to keep your collection looking its best!

Need the professional touch? Search for a jewelry store near you.