10 Tips to Quickly Clean Your Jewellery

Easy jewellery cleaning tips from a jewellery design professional for silver and gold.

Let's face it: everybody's jewellery needs a good clean occasionally. If you take a look at your own collection you'll probably notice your precious jewellery getting tarnished or just plain grimy - and maybe also scuffed and scratched. So how do you quickly clean your jewellery?

All jewellery needs some care and attention to be kept at its sparkling best. If you're not sure where to start, we're here to help with our top 10 top tips to quickly clean your jewellery to help you learn about how to quickly and easily clean and care for your gold, silver and gemstone jewellery.

If you have more time and to better understand the issues and risks when it comes to clean jewellery, you really should dive into our comprehensive jewellery cleaning & care guide, which will give you all the info you need. Also if you're not sure of any of the terms we use in this article, take a look at our extensive jewellery glossary with 100+ definitions of key jewellery terms.

So let's get started ...

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1. Check your jewellery

It can be easy to miss that your jewellery needs a clean, either because you wear it all the time and don't notice the changes or because it's put away somewhere and you don't look at it too often. You might be a bit alarmed when you realise just how grimy and dull some of your favourite pieces are.

The good news is that cleaning for most jewellery pieces is pretty easy. Read on to find out how.

2. Give it a wash

This is the simplest cleaning step to do, but pretty much all jewellery should benefit from it. You might find it's all you need to do for many pieces, particularly for solid gold jewellery or fashion jewellery.

Wash your jewellery with warm water and a gentle colourless and fragrance free liquid soap. Castile soap, soap for woollens or even a gentle hand soap with no moisturiser, antiseptic or harsh chemicals should work well.

Use a cloth or soft bristled brush to help get grime out of crevices. Be sure not to leave soft gems such as opals or pearls soaking in water for too long as it may affect them.

Once it's clean make sure you rinse it and dry it quickly and well.

3. Try an ultrasonic cleaner

If grime and dust isn't removed easily from intricate pieces, then look into getting a cheap ultrasonic cleaner and follow the instructions. It will do a great job of dislodging dirt and debris, even from otherwise impossible to reach places.

Note that an ultrasonic won't remove tarnish, but it will work a treat with complex pieces (exceptions below) which have lots of crevices where dirt can accumulate and stick.

4. BUT: don't always use an ultrasonic!

If your silver jewellery has blackened or patinated areas as part of the design or features soft gemstones like opals, lapis lazuli, turquoise or pearls then avoid ultrasonic cleaning to be on the safe side.

This process can damage some finishes and soft gemstones, so use it with caution.

5. Remove tarnish with a polishing cloth

Sterling silver in particular will tarnish over time, but other precious metals can as well, including lower carats of gold. This is a normal process with metal and the tarnish is easy enough to clean off precious metals.

If your precious metal jewellery is tarnished, use a precious metal jewellery cleaning cloth to remove it, such as the professional quality polishing cloths we have available in our online store.

Once you're happy, give the piece a rinse and carefully dry it to remove any chemical residue.

6. OR: use silver dip instead

You can also use silver dip for very quickly and easily removing tarnish from sterling silver. It particularly works well with silver chains which can be difficult to clean with a polishing cloth alone.

You should be able to find silver dip or similar at your local supermarket, larger pharmacy or hardware shop. Otherwise try a local jewellery shop.

Be sure to follow the instructions carefully and always rinse well and dry when you're done.

7. BUT: don't always use silver dip!

As with an ultrasonic cleaner, if your silver jewellery has blackened areas as part of the design or soft gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise or pearls then avoid silver dip to be on the safe side as it may damage some finishes and gemstones.

8. Avoid harsh cleaning

Never use 'old wives' jewellery cleaning methods involving toothpaste or baking soda paste which is rubbed onto the metal. These methods will remove tiny amounts of metal every time you do it and over time it will damage and deplete your precious jewellery.

In particular jewellery which is gold vermeil, gold filled or plated should never be cleaned in this way or it will be damaged. Learn more about different types of gold jewellery to better understand why this will be the case.

Also take care when using a polishing cloth, brush or anything else which is rubbed against the metal, particularly if your jewellery has a more delicate finish, such as gold plating, blackening or a patina.

Too much enthusiasm with jewellery cleaning may not be a good thing!

9. Cleaning silk thread necklaces

If your necklace has silk thread (like our very popular forget-me-nots silk necklace) it can also be washed in warm soapy water, followed by a rinse.

Lay the piece flat or hang it up to dry the silk should straight. Otherwise use an iron on the silk setting to straighten it out.

10. Store your jewellery carefully

Now your jewellery is nice and clean, have a think about how best to store it to avoid needing to clean it again too soon.

Avoid storing precious metal jewellery in a humid place - especially the bathroom - as it will speed up tarnishing. If you live in a humid location, then extra care should be taken and more frequent cleaning undertaken.

Ideally precious metal jewellery should be stored away from free flowing air. This will also slow down tarnish, plus it will help keep dust at bay. Keep it in a pouch, small jewellery box or similar if you can.

If you like having your jewellery on display, then be aware that it's likely to need a clean more often, so keep an eye on it.

Another key point is that metal rubbing against metal, harder gemstones or other hard surfaces will cause it to get scratched. To avoid scratching, do your best to keep your precious metal jewellery stored individually and so that beads or chains don't rub against pendants.

More jewellery tips

Here are some more handy jewellery advice articles we think you'll enjoy reading:

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Simone Walsh is an Australian jewellery designer and maker who has been creating unique jewellery in silver, gold and gemstones for over 25 years. She lives and works on the beautiful Fleurieu Peninsula outside Adelaide in South Australia, where she's lucky enough to wander on the beach and frolic in the garden in her free time. Simone is the Founder & Creative Director of Simone Walsh Jewellery.