how to clean your jewellery

How to Clean Jewellery

I love a multi-tasker. Keeping a cupboard chock full of "specialty" cleaners is a waste of space (and money). But some things, like your precious metals, deserve special attention. That doesn't mean you should go out and buy a dedicated "jewellery cleaner." Far from it. You can use your everyday products to clean almost every type of jewellery. Be careful, though. Some commercial household cleaners and sanitisers can do more harm than good. Make sure to use gentle, plant-based cleaners to avoid damaging the finish.  

Earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and especially things you wear daily like rings and watches get caked with body oils, sweat, sunscreen, and plain old dirt. I like to give my little treasures a clean now and then, and I only use my products. Mostly.  

Here's How I Clean My Jewellery

How to Clean Gold Jewellery

Solid gold is my favourite noble metal because it's the easiest to clean. It never tarnishes, but it does get dirty. When it does, you can just plonk gold jewellery into a bowl, add some mild dish soap and warm (almost hot) water and let it soak. I use a Pyrex measuring cup for this and am always careful not to leave it soaking in the kitchen just in case some well-meaning housemate dumps the contents down the gurgler!   Let it soak for about 30 minutes before gently scrubbing it with an old nail or toothbrush. Finish by rinsing it under warm running water and wipe dry. 

How to Clean Silver Jewellery

I like the look of tarnished silver...up to a point. When it starts to look more tarnished than silver, I break out the silver polish. This stuff is highly toxic, so use it sparingly, and for goodness’ sake, please use gloves! Once I’ve given it a good clean, I also drop it into a sudsy bowl for a good soak to get those nasty chemicals off. Wipe dry, and buff with a plant-based, universal polish to prevent oxidation. It's made with food-grade vegetable oil, so you don't have to feel weird about it next to your skin. 

How to Clean Your Pearl Jewellery

People tell you not to wear makeup, sunscreen, lotion, or perfume with pearls because they are porous and these will ruin the finish. I ignore those people. I mean, where are you going in pearls without makeup or fragrance? To bed? Honey, please! Every once in a while, (like when I'm cleaning my makeup brushes or my other jewellery) I spray a little All-Purpose Cleaner onto a clean cloth and gently run it down my strand of pearls. After that, I use the same cloth and a small dollop of Leather Cleaner to condition them. Done! DO NOT let them soak in water. Pearls don’t swim and the string will break, which is amusing in movies, but not so much IRL.   

How to Clean Semi- Precious Stones

Clean them the same way you would pearls, but you can be a little rougher. They’re semi-precious! Mostly, I just use that same cloth I used on the pearls, add more Leather Cleaner, wipe them down, and call it a day.  

how to clean gold jewellery

How to Clean Diamonds & Gemstones

This is not a problem for me, since I don't have any. When my engagement ring was stolen 15 years ago, I traded it for a solid gold signet ring and a bone cuff from Tiffany's! I’ve heard that you can clean them like gold, but with seltzer (presumably, not the flavoured kind) instead of warm tap water. Apparently, the bubbles help to loosen dirt trapped around the setting. If you do this, and it works, please let me know!  

How to Clean Costume Jewellery

I love a bold, statement piece, so good costume is my favourite kind of jewellery. It’s worth mentioning that "costume" could be anything from gold-plated brass to crystal to glass or wooden beads, so it covers a broad area. I would suggest you proceed with caution and be gentle. I would avoid a brush in this case and just give it a standard spray + wipe. A good rule of thumb is this: If it's porous (wood or bone) use Leather Cleaner. If it's all metal, you can soak it in dish soap (but not for long). And if it's a mixed material situation, just spray a thin, lint-free cloth with APC and wipe it gently.  

rinsing jewellery with a colander


  • Never sleep or swim in your jewellery. I always take off my rings, watch, and earrings when I sleep, but I do love to swim (in a pool, never the ocean) with my gold necklaces. Just make sure the clasp is secure! 
  • ALWAYS use a colander when rinsing your jewellery. I learned that one the hard way.
  • Jewellery goes on last. Put your body oil, lotion, sunscreen, and fragrance on before your jewellery, not after.  

Try and make a monthly (or so) habit of it to keep everything looking sparkling.  

Xx, mlk