There’s something about the first warm days of spring, with the fresh breezes and the beautiful smell of flowers that makes us want to clean and freshen our spaces. Spring cleaning is a much needed and satisfying annual ritual, a time to make sure our homes and that we value is ship shape. As you dive into the big clean, don’t forget to give your jewelry some love. If you tend to use your mother’s or grandmother’s tricks of the cleaning trade, we have a few warnings regarding “old wives’ tales.” What tricks should you watch out for?
They are great for your pearly whites, but not your pearls or really any other type of jewelry. The abrasives in toothpaste can scratch the surface of metals and softer gemstones, while a toothbrush’s long handle allows you to place too much pressure on the piece you are cleaning.
Ammonia, denatured alcohol, acetone and other harsh cleaning agents can dull or pit the surface of softer gemstones. While ammonia or a cleaning agent like Mr. Clean can be effective in small concentrations, it is difficult to determine the correct ratio, which makes them a risky choice.
Bleach is not safe for cleaning jewelry. It can cause gold and other metal alloys to break down, irreparably damaging the piece. In fact, that is why it’s not a good idea to wear your jewelry while swimming or in a hot tub, because of the chlorine used to keep them clean.
While steam is an excellent way to clean jewelry (most jewelers use a steamer), placing your jewelry in a pot of boiling water is not a good idea. Your piece will come into contact with a hot metal surface, which can weaken or misshape the metal.
Lemon juice is too acidic and abrasive to safely clean jewelry, especially softer stones and silver.
The old wives are big fans of vinegar, and it is a great cleaning agent for many things, just not jewelry. Like lemon juice, it is too acidic, which is damaging to softer stones and to metal.
Baking soda, also known as bicarbonate of soda, is too alkaline and can damage your jewelry. Just as acidic substances can be damaging, so can those that are alkaline.
Consult your professional jeweler for recommended cleaning products formulated especially for cleaning jewelry. Fine jewelry cleaning formulas are generally safe for gold and platinum jewelry and those set with harder gemstones such as diamonds. A gentle jewelry cleaning formula is safe for all varieties of delicate and porous gemstones, including pearls, beads and even fashion jewelry. There are also cleaners specially formulated for cleaning silver pieces, and professional polishing cloths are excellent for removing tarnish and polishing gold, silver and platinum jewelry.
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