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10 quick tips to clean your jewellery

Top jewellery care and cleaning tips to keep your precious jewellery sparkling clean for years to come. Top tips from a jewellery design professional.

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. So how do you go about cleaning your jewellery quickly, easily and safely?

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 quick top 10 tips to help you learn about how best to easily clean and care for your gold, sterling silver and gemstone jewellery.

If you have more time you should also check out our comprehensive jewellery cleaning and care guide, plus there are more handy tips in our article about 12 jewellery mistakes we wish you'd stop making.

So let's get started:

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1. Check your jewellery

It can be easy to not realise 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.

I suggest that every 6-12 months you take some time to have a good look at your pieces - especially the most precious ones - and give them an objective assessment. Chances are some or all could do with a bit of a spruce up - and sterling silver jewellery in particular is likely to be tarnished.

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

2. Give it a wash

Rose post earrings in our jewellery store.

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.

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

Use a cloth or soft bristled brush to help get grime out of crevices.

Once it's clean make sure you 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.

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 areas as part of the design (such as our popular Japanese pendant) or soft gemstones like 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 polishing cloth to remove it, such as the professional quality version we have available online.

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

How to clean your sterling silver and gold jewellery.

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.

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 (such as our Japanese pendant) 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 which is rubbed onto the metal. This will remove tiny amounts of metal every time you do it and over time it will damage and deplete your precious jewellery.

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 gilding, vermeil, plating or any patina or colouring).

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

Forget-me-nots necklace in sterling silver and silk.

9. Cleaning silk thread necklaces

If your necklace has silk thread (like our very popular forget-me-nots 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 particular in a humid place - especially the bathroom. Humidity will speed up tarnishing a lot, so it's best avoided. If you live in a humid place, then extra care should be taken and more 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.

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Read our comprehensive article about jewellery care and cleaning.

Other reading:

Simone Walsh is an Australian jewellery designer and maker who has been creating handmade jewellery in sterling 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 walk on the beach and visit vineyards in her free time. Simone is the Founder & Creative Director of Simone Walsh Jewellery.