Updated: Sep 8, 2021
In this blog I will look at some common questions & share the best homemade jewellery cleaner to keep your jewellery looking great for longer without putting it at risk of damage.
Everyday your jewellery accumulates grime making them dull & milky looking, even though you may take good care of them. We want to wear our jewellery all the time right! Our jewellery becomes part of our identity, the look belongs to us & we love the way it feels on.
If you’re anything like me its #jewelleryonfirst ; it sets the vibe I’m going with on any given day.
Why does my jewellery go dull?
In New Zealand’s high humidity climate & areas of Geo-thermal activity, your treasured items will naturally tarnish. It doesn’t matter what your favourite pieces are made from, Gold, Silver, Platinum, or costume jewellery it all discolours. The case is also true of a metal finish such as #Rhodium plating, Vermeil (Gold plated Silver) and Gold filled/rolled, (Gold with base metal alloy) or an applied oxidising patina.
This happens because accumulated body oils, sweat & air borne particles react with your jewellery, causing or accelerating the oxidising process. It’s good to note here that some designs are difficult to keep clean & pieces worn every day, will tarnish faster.
Can I clean my jewellery if it has gemstones?
If your jewellery has gemstones, Diamonds or Cubic Zirconia, odds on bet they too are will look like sea glass before too long. Some gemstones & CZ’s may clean up well in warm water, but the polished surfaces of a Diamond typically resists water, (hydrophobic), and annoyingly will attract grease readily (lipophilic). With some basic care you can keep your gems looking gorgeous.
There are couple of things to be mindful of when you're cleaning jewellery.
1. If you are going to clean your jewellery in the laundry, kitchen, or bathroom, put the plug into the sink to stop an item accidently going down the drain.
2. Lay a hand towel down on the bench to work on, it will help stop things getting away from you.
3. Refresh your warm water bath after each batch.
4. Do not put any items with Turquoise, Amber, Opal, Pearl, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite, or glued-in stones into the bath. These you’ll wash by dipping a soft clean cloth into the bath and then cleaning the item in your hands. They are fine to be rinsed at Step 4.
5. If your jewellery has a blackened or patina finish; omit the cloudy ammonia.
Here's 5 easy steps to keep your jewellery clean at home.
Step 1: Using a clean 500ml bowl put 1 tsp of dishwashing detergent, add warm water & stir to create a warm cleaning bath. If you have cloudy ammonia, (we suggest Homebrand), you can stir in a ¼ tsp to the bath. (Safety first; be aware of spills or fumes with regards to using this product).
Step 2: Now we can get to the task of cleaning off grime. Sort your jewellery into types of metals & if they have gemstones in them. Work with your sorted items in batches.
Place a batch into the cleaning bath, leave them to soak for 15 minutes.
Step 3: Take a new, baby-size, soft toothbrush & gently brush all over. If the piece has settings, you can gently clean in &around the settings to get into any crevices. Do not scrub your jewellery. Toothbrushes are meant for teeth but will do the job admirably without having to scrub.
If grime is lodged in tight, leave the item to soak in the solution for another 15 minutes & repeat the cleaning process.
Step 4: Rinse off your cleaned jewellery. Using another small clean bowl. Fill it with warm clean water only. Place the cleaned jewellery in this bath to rinse. Do not use cold or hot water as some precious gems may experience temperature shock and be permanently damaged.
Remove and individually dry your jewellery with a clean cotton cloth.
Step 5: Clean off any residue metal tarnish. The best method for cleaning of unwanted oxidisation is to use a good quality jewellery polishing cloth. We recommend @regal_limited.nz who are stockists of #connoisseurs cloths in NZ.
Take care with polishing cloths on any plating, patinas & around design details like settings and catches.
Nothing beats looking into your gemstones after they've been cleaned!
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Lee Minturn is a Director of Minturn Jewellery Ltd & has 20 years’ experience in the wider jewellery industry. She is Co-Administrator for the Jewellery Industry Association of NZ & the Facebook forum Jewellers Tradeit. She grew to love the work that was being produced by Peter Minturn Designer Jewellery & the busy school workshop. She has built her career in the education of the arts & crafts of a professional goldsmith jeweller. Lee & her husband, Chris, reside in the Emerald green hills of the Waitakere Ranges.