How to Clean Your Gold and Silver Jewellery
If you’re like us, jewellery is an everyday essential. Whether you’re out-out, working out or just in the house, wearing gold and silver jewellery is a must.
One of the best parts about jewellery is that box-fresh shine – whether it’s golden hues or cool silver there’s nothing like the look of new jewellery. Unfortunately, as solid gold, white gold, rose gold and silver are precious metals, it’s normal for them to tarnish over time. So to keep your jewellery the freshest it can be, we recommend regularly using these quick cleaning hacks.
For these methods, all you need are products knocking around the house. So if you live on the go, don’t worry about finding specialist cleaning products, instead try these jewellery cleaning hacks.
We all know that feeling, you’ve got a big night planned, you’ve got that piece in mind but it’s looking a bit dull. All you want is that bangin’ box-fresh shine. Surely, a quick scrub will do?
It might be tempting to clean your jewellery any old way (we’ve been there) but it’s important to check your pieces first. When cleaned, metals and gemstones can have unique reactions – some positive and others negative. So, to make sure your jewellery comes out looking its best, it’s important to know which metals or gemstones you’re working with:
Knowing the metal type of your jewellery is key to getting the best clean possible. Gold and silver react differently when exposed to water, soap and chemicals. This means that if you use the wrong method, your pieces can come out unclean or worse, damaged. So, make sure to check which metal your jewellery is made of before cleaning.
If your tarnished jewellery contains gemstones, you need to be especially careful when cleaning. Certain gemstones can react negatively to soap and other cleaning chemicals. Opals, pearls and turquoise, in particular, are very susceptible to damage when exposed to water. This is because, being porous gemstones, liquids can easily pass through them. So, for the best results, try and keep your gemstones out of water when cleaning.
Now that we’ve outlined what you need to look out for, let’s dive into our hacks for cleaning gold and silver jewellery:
1. Soapy Water
The soapy water method is one of the most popular cleaning hacks for gold and silver jewellery. It’s quick, straightforward and won’t risk causing damage.
Two bowls of warm water
Mild washing up liquid
A non-abrasive, lint-free cloth
A microfibre cloth (optional)
A soft-bristle toothbrush (optional)
Whilst soapy water can be used for most pieces, we recommend using a slightly different approach if you’re cleaning precious metals or gemstones. To clear this up, we’ve split this method into two separate techniques – read below to find out.
Cleaning Gold and Silver Jewellery with Soapy Water
Fill two bowls with warm water, mixing one with a few drops of mild washing up liquid. The bowl with washing-up liquid is for cleaning and the second bowl is for rinsing.
Put your jewellery in the washing bowl and let it soak for up to 15 minutes.
When cleaning small earrings and thin chains in this way, due to their size, it can be difficult to remove them from the solution. To get around this issue, we recommend placing pieces like this inside a sieve. This’ll make it easier to remove your jewellery from the solution and to rinse it.
After soaking, gently rub your jewellery with a lint-free cloth. For areas of your jewellery which are difficult to reach, use a soft toothbrush.
After removing the dirt, rinse your jewellery in the bowl containing plain water. Once rinsed, dry with a gentle pat (a lint-free cloth is ideal for this).
Once it’s dried, give it a further wipe with a microfibre cloth to remove any watermarks. This’ll leave your jewellery with a stunning shine.
Cleaning Gemstones with Soapy Water
For cleaning gemstones with soapy water, we recommend swapping standard tap water for sparkling water. Sparkling water is highly effective at removing debris, so it’s perfect for targeting impurities stuck in the tiny facets and grooves of your gemstone.
After dipping your pieces into the soapy sparkling water, remove and use a soft toothbrush to scrub. After gently scrubbing your gemstones, rinse your jewellery under running water.
This specific technique works for most gemstones but when it comes to opals, pearls and turquoise it’s best to give it a miss. To clean opals, pearls and turquoise, try the following:
First, place the gemstone on a soft cloth. Dip a small, clean brush into a warm water and mild washing up liquid mixture, gently working it over the gemstone. Then, rinse the gemstone with a clean, well-wrung damp cloth and gently rub dry.
2. Bicarbonate of Soda
If you got into baking over lockdown, this one’s for you: for heavier tarnishing and dirt, try bicarbonate of soda. Ideal for deep cleaning heavily tarnished gold and silver, this method can be easily tweaked to clean gemstones as well.
For this, you’ll need:
A glass bowl
1 tbsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp salt
Cleaning Gold and Silver Jewellery with Bicarbonate of Soda
Place the aluminium foil along the inside of the glass bowl, lining it. Make sure that the reflective side of the foil faces upwards.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and salt to the bowl. Then add hot water, making sure that the bicarbonate of soda and salt dissolve completely. The water should be deep enough to fully submerge your gold or silver jewellery.
Once you have created the mixture, place your gold or silver pieces in the bowl and keep it submerged for a few minutes. Sulphur, the substance that causes tarnishing, will begin to come away from your jewellery (this will look like black and yellow flakes floating towards the aluminium). Chemically attracted to aluminium, the sulphur should come off automatically – so put your feet up and watch the magic happen.
When the tarnish has floated away, remove your jewellery from the solution and rub it carefully. As the chemical reaction is so effective, scrubbin’ isn’t essential. To finish, rinse your jewellery in running water, using a soft cloth to dry.
Cleaning Gemstones with Bicarbonate of Soda
This method can be easily adapted for gemstone jewellery by applying the bicarbonate of soda as a paste. To create this paste, mix the bicarb’ with a splash of water. Slightly wet your pieces and rub the paste into those hard-to-reach areas (use a soft lint-free cloth for this process). The cloth should pick up any dirt on your jewellery and once all the dirt has been removed, rinse under running water. Buff your jewellery dry with a soft cloth to leave it with a stunning shine.
5 Care Tips for Gold and Silver Jewellery
After you have cleaned your jewellery, it should have that box-fresh look you first fell in love with. To keep your pieces poppin’, try these day-to-day jewellery tips:
1. Spray perfume before wearing
The oils and colour dyes that make up perfume can cause gold and silver to lose their shine. For this reason, bracelets and necklaces are particularly at risk as they tend to be worn on the same areas as perfume. So, to keep your jewellery glowin’, we recommend spraying your chosen eau de parfum first.
2. Take off before showering
To keep your jewellery fresh, avoid getting it shower fresh. It’s important to take your pieces off before showering as many products, such as shower gels, shampoos and conditioners, will damage gold and silver. If gold is worn during your shower it’ll become dull over time, losing that statement glow. Similarly, there’s a good chance any sterling silver piece worn in the shower will go the same way. So, when you’re scrubbin’, stick to your birthday suit.
3. Don’t wear while exercising
We get it, having the right gym fit is a must. However, if you want to keep your pieces fresh it’s best to take them off before exercising. Sweat is a solution of salt and water, so if it makes its way onto your gold and silver it can lead to tarnishing.
4. Store in a dry place, separated
Like the previous two tips, when storing your jewellery, it’s important to keep it in a dry space, away from moisture. To avoid any unexpected tarnishing, we also recommend keeping your jewellery separated in terms of metal types. This is because different types of precious metals can cause a chemical reaction when in contact with one another.
5. Take rings off before cooking
Kitchen tunes? Check. Bottle of wine? Check. Ring stack? Maybe not. As much as we love cooking up a feast, it’s best to take your rings and bracelets off beforehand. When cooking, steam can make its way onto your clothes and jewellery. Whilst clothes can be easily washed, if steam stays on your gold or silver pieces it’ll cause tarnishing. So, before getting that chopping board out, we recommend putting your gold and silver to one side.