1833 Union Street  |  San Francisco, CA 94123  |  P: 415.875.9438 

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Jewelry Care & Cleaning

HOW TO CLEAN AND STORE YOUR JEWELRY THE RIGHT WAY

There's no shortage of advice online for how to clean and store your jewelry. Some of it is valuable, some questionable, and some can lead to devastating results. Proper jewelry cleaning and storage keeps jewelry looking its best and extends its wear.  So, too, does improper care lead to unsightly appearance and diminished strength.

It would be beyond burdensome to have your fine jewelry professionally cleaned twice a month. So whenever we sell a new piece of jewelry, we offer guidance on how to properly store and clean it.  These straightforward steps help keep each piece sparkling and secure between cleaning visits.

We also caution against some of the mistakes we see others take with their jewelry. Many of these blunders result from inexpert advice found online and lead to entirely avoidable damages.

Before you turn to Pinterest for DIY jewelry cleaners, try these jeweler-approved care and cleaning tips.

1. AT-HOME JEWELRY CLEANING

Jewelry that you wear daily or nearly daily should be cleaned at home every few weeks. If you have an item with different needs, your jeweler will provide a jewelry care plan at the time of purchase. These at-home cleanings will help remove the buildup of dirt and environmental grime that can dull the appearance and even cause damage to gemstone and metal jewelry.

Not all at-home jewelry cleaners are made equal, however, and some jewelry cleaning solutions and machines can do serious damage. For at-home jewelry cleaning, we recommend a simple solution for precious metals and red (rubies), white (diamonds), and blue (sapphire) stones

 

2. JEWELRY STORAGE 101

There are some standard rules to follow for jewelry storage, as well as specific practices to follow depending on the style and materials. With each new piece of fine jewelry that you invest in, ask your jeweler about its unique needs and tolerances before cleaning and storing it at home.

1.   A fabric-lined jewelry box with many multi-sized compartments can help safely store and protect jewelry from  scratches.

2.   You might also choose to store each piece of jewelry in individual cloth bags or fabric-padded containers.

3.   Store necklaces and bracelets with their clasps closed to avoid tangling, and either hang or lay them flat where they  won't  rub              against other jewelry.

4.   Store each earring in a separate compartment so they cannot rub or rest against each other. You can also store  earrings  on felted           stands or cards that prevent them touching.

5.   Store rings in divided compartments or small microfiber envelopes available for this purpose. You may also store them  in their                   original jewelry boxes if you prefer.

6.   Store silver jewelry in a tarnish-proof cloth to protect it from exposure to air or moisture.

7.   After wearing a piece of jewelry, take a moment to wipe it with a clean cloth before storing it again.

 
3. HOW TO KEEP YOUR GOLD LOOKING GREAT

Gold jewelry that has lost its luster can typically be restored by following the cleaning regimen above. If your gold jewelry has gone uncleaned for many years, such as an inherited heirloom, it’s best to bring it to your jeweler for a professional inspection and cleaning before you begin an at-home cleaning regimen. Gold jewelry with gemstones that require special care, such as emeralds or pearls, will also require a modified cleaning approach to accommodate the needs of each of its parts.

Storing Gold Jewelry

Gold jewelry, like other metals, should be stored in a soft pouch or fabric-lined box to keep it safe from scratches and tarnish. Relatively all gold jewelry is an alloy, meaning it is gold mixed with other metals.The karat level of your gold will give you an idea of your gold’s purity. 

Storing Gold Jewelry

Except for the blue dawn soap used when cleaning your gold jewelry, you should keep it away from all other soaps, body washes, and cleansers. Gold should be removed before showering, swimming, washing dishes, applying lotions, doing laundry, 

 
4. HOW TO KEEP YOUR SILVER SPARKLING

Silver jewelry, contrary to what many believe, is slower to tarnish when it is frequently worn, so the best defense against tarnished silver is to wear it often. After wearing your silver jewelry, you should gently rub it with a soft polishing cloth before putting it away. For most silver, this is the only cleaning that is necessary, as any added moisture will speed up the tarnishing process.

 
5. HOW DO YOU CLEAN PLATINUM, PALLADIUM, TITANIUM, AND TUNGSTEN JEWELRY?  

Platinum has the reputation of being among the purest and most durable of metals used in jewelry, making it an attractive option for hypoallergenic jewelry that will get everyday wear.

Palladium, titanium, and tungsten are similarly colored metals that are often used for a less expensive option than platinum, though they each come with drawbacks and advantages. Titanium and Tungsten, for example, are difficult to cut, may be difficult or impossible to resize, and can only be engraved by laser. In addition, while titanium is more durable than platinum and difficult to scratch, it is more difficult to polish if it does become scratched. If your jewelry is made from any of these four metals, however, the cleaning solution shared at the start of this article is recommended, with additional considerations taken for any gemstones.

 
6. CLEANING AND CARING FOR DIAMOND AND GEMSTONE JEWELRY

As mentioned above, red, white, and blue (rubies, diamonds, and sapphires) jewelry can typically be cleaned using the at-home jewelry cleaning recipe shared previously. Before your first at-home cleaning with a new piece of jewelry, however, you should always confirm this with your jeweler. They may advise you differently based upon the condition of your stone or the metal.

Cleaning Diamonds, Rubies, and Sapphires at Home

Unless your jeweler states otherwise, it is safe to clean your diamond, ruby, and sapphire jewelry using the diy jewelry cleaning solution of blue Dawn dish detergent and water. While you may have heard that a jewelry cleaner with ammonia will return a dull diamond to its original shine, we strongly advise against using anything harsher than diluted dish soap.

Cleaning Gemstone Jewelry At Home

For other gemstones, it’s vital that you follow your jeweler’s advice to prolong the beauty and longevity of the piece. Gems with a lower rating on the Mohs scale than diamonds, rubies, and sapphires can incur damage by many of the cleaning formulas and machines sold for home use.

Ultrasonic and steam cleaners can cause irreparable damage to emeralds, tanzanite, amethyst, and other stones. 

 
6. CLEANING AND CARING FOR DIAMOND AND GEMSTONE JEWELRY

As mentioned above, red, white, and blue (rubies, diamonds, and sapphires) jewelry can typically be cleaned using the at-home jewelry cleaning recipe shared previously. Before your first at-home cleaning with a new piece of jewelry, however, you should always confirm this with your jeweler. They may advise you differently based upon the condition of your stone or the metal.

Cleaning Diamonds, Rubies, and Sapphires at Home

Unless your jeweler states otherwise, it is safe to clean your diamond, ruby, and sapphire jewelry using the diy jewelry cleaning solution of blue Dawn dish detergent and water. While you may have heard that a jewelry cleaner with ammonia will return a dull diamond to its original shine, we strongly advise against using anything harsher than diluted dish soap.

Cleaning Gemstone Jewelry At Home

For other gemstones, it’s vital that you follow your jeweler’s advice to prolong the beauty and longevity of the piece. Gems with a lower rating on the Mohs scale than diamonds, rubies, and sapphires can incur damage by many of the cleaning formulas and machines sold for home use.

Ultrasonic and steam cleaners can cause irreparable damage to emeralds, tanzanite, amethyst, and other stones. 

7. SPECIAL CARE FOR OPALS, PEARLS, WOOD, & OTHER UNIQUE JEWELRY NEEDS

From classic pearls to modern wood, there’s no shortage of unique materials used in jewelry making. Keeping these materials looking their best, however, requires special care and frequent caution. Opals, for example, can be significantly damaged by merely being worn from a warm home into the winter air. And hanging a pearl necklace could result in a saggy, dirty string of pearls before long. If your jewelry contains wooden elements, you’ll need to limit its exposure to water, extreme temperatures, and prolonged periods of direct sunlight.  

 
8. HOW TO CLEAN & STORE WEDDING AND ENGAGEMENT RINGS

When you first start to wear your wedding and engagement rings, you’ll find it hard to believe that you might ever provide them with anything but the most meticulous of care. Realistically, however, as you become used to wearing them, you may start to take them for granted.

 

Over time, you may find yourself thinking things such as “I’ve accidentally worn them while doing laundry before and nothing bad happened. It’s probably not a big deal to leave them on,” or “I know I shouldn’t wear them at the beach, but I really want to show them off.” Sooner or later, “I know I shouldn’t, but I’ll do it just this once,” becomes “I know I should have listened to my jeweler, but I didn’t and now look what’s happened.”

 
9. FALL JEWELRY CARE

When the days start to cool, and summer turns to autumn, you might think that the major threats to your jewelry are behind you along with the heat, salt water, and chlorine of summer. Fall holds its perils for your fine jewelry, however, and requires its own kind of vigilance.  

 
10. WINTER JEWELRY CARE

With the cold weather of winter and the additional layers of clothing that come with it, so too come additional hazards to your jewelry and necessary precautions to take. With careful attention and by following a few standard rules, however, you can make it from the lioness of winter into the lamb-like days of Spring without any jewelry disasters. Here’s how:

  • Watch out for snags: Gloves, scarves, and hats keep you toasty and warm, but they also create hazards for your rings, earrings, and necklaces. The best remedy is to buy and wear only winter accessories with smooth inner lining. If you can’t bear to part with your fuzzy knits, however, you might consider carefully packing your jewelry if you can stow it safely during your forays into the cold winter weather so you can put it on once you arrive at your destination. If this approach will expose your fine jewelry to potential theft, take a very cautious approach to both putting on and removing knit outerwear over your jewelry, being mindful not to pull or yank if your jewelry does happen to catch on the thread -- you’re better off with a damaged glove than a damaged engagement ring

11.  SPRING JEWELRY CARE

There’s something about Spring that makes us giddy to open the windows, let in the sun, and scrub down every last inch of our homes. While Spring cleaning may be the best thing to happen to your home, it can wreak havoc on your jewelry.

Follow these tips to make sure your scrubbing doesn’t lead to sobbing when you find that your clean house came at the expense of your favorite jewelry :  

Always remove your jewelry for housekeeping activities: Even folding and putting away laundry presents dangers of snagging your rings on knits or knocking your setting against the metal closures on your jeans. To make it easy to remember to remove your jewelry during these activities, consider putting a jewelry dish or small box in the areas of your home where you do the most cleaning, such as the laundry room and on your kitchen and bathroom counters.

12.  SUMMER JEWELRY CARE

You almost certainly know to keep your jewelry far away from salt water and chlorine, but these aren’t the only hazards lurking in the hazy heat of summer that might cause your jewelry harm.

 

Many of the mainstays of Summer pose a risk to jewelry, unfortunately, and they aren’t all as well known. Before you hit the beach or head to the pool, make sure you know about these risks and how to protect your jewelry from them:
 

  • Working on your tan? Your gemstones might be getting one, too: The summer sun can do more than give you a healthy glow; it might also give your gems a hazy appearance or even change their color entirely. It’s true: some gemstones are sensitive to UV light, and exposure to the sun’s rays could result in irreversible damage to your favorite jewelry.

 
 
 
13.  JEWELRY CLEANING IN SAN FRANCISCO

The expert staff at Carats & Stones are proud to bring our 40 years of experience to our clients in San Francisco’s Cow Hollow district. Not only do we design and create jewelry to last a lifetime, but we offer professional cleaning and repairs on-site and are always happy to answer any questions to help you keep your fine jewelry looking as good as the day you brought it home.

If you're looking for jewelry cleaning in San Francisco or have questions and are seeking advice, we invite you to call us at 415-875-9438, schedule a free consultation online, or just stop on by. We're proud to be one of San Francisco’s trusted family jewelers for over four decades, and we'd love to add you to our family.