HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU CLEAN JEWELRY
WHEN TO CLEAN JEWELRY:
- Visible discoloration, tarnishing, and streaking are signs that you need to clean your jewelry.
- Over time, exposure to elements and other environmental factors will cause your jewelry to develop a slight haze that makes it appear less shiny. This cloudiness happens when oxidation occurs at high temperatures.
- Your diamond or gemstone has lost its luster. This is due to air pollution, dust, lotions, and other environmental conditions that affect the stone's ability to shine.
- Slight scratches indicate that your jewelry needs cleaning and polishing. It may even require replating.
ESTABLISH A CLEANING SCHEDULE
Different types of jewelry require different care; therefore, the schedule for cleaning your jewelry will depend on the type of jewelry material you are working with (metal, stone, etc.) and how often you wear it.
- Pearl jewelry should be wiped down with a soft cleaning cloth after every use to prevent the buildup of oils.
- To maintain the look of diamond jewelry and keep germs at bay, gently clean your diamonds with soap and water every two weeks.
- Frequently worn pieces require more attention than seldom worn pieces, so they require more frequent cleaning.
JEWELRY CLEANING TIPS:
Once you've established a regular cleaning regimen, make sure to clean your precious metals carefully to prevent damage. There are several different ways that you can clean jewelry.
A. Ultrasonic Cleaning
If you prefer a more powerful approach to cleaning, consider using jewelry cleaning equipment such as an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, which uses steam and sound waves to clean jewelry. While cleaning your jewelry makes it look beautiful and sparkly, using powerful jewelry cleaning equipment like an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner daily will inevitably damage your jewelry. Daily steam and sound waves from an ultrasonic cleaning will cause unnecessary wear on your jewelry and even make side stones loose, inducing them to fall out. Therefore, we recommend cleaning your jewelry and other gem-set jewelry pieces once every two to ten weeks.
Cleaning gemstones is a delicate task. Some gems are more brittle, porous, and softer than others. Avoid exposure to harsh chemicals, heat, or vibrations (ultrasonic sound waves). Some soft gems to be cautious with include emeralds (which are oiled) and opals (which dry out and shatter), pearls (they absorb the liquids, expand, and become brittle), and colored diamonds (they can fade and lose their bright colors). Avoid an ultrasonic cleaning for these soft gemstones. Instead, cleaning gemstones by hand with mild, all-natural soap and water is totally fine.
Here's a quick list of what not to clean in an ultrasonic cleaner:
- Do not clean organic, porous jewelry and soft gemstones in an ultrasonic cleaner. Pieces with emeralds, turquoise, opals, lapis lazuli, malachite, tanzanite, corals, amber, and pearls can not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. Likewise, gems coated with oil, plastic, or wax should not be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner.
- Loose gemstones. The ultrasonic vibrations the jewelry cleaner generates sometimes shake gems loose or chip gems set with their girdles touching. A loose gemstone may come out of its setting and chip in an ultrasonic cleaner.
- Watch heads. Even if a watch is waterproof, you should never immerse it in an ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasonic sound waves that usually clean appropriate items will damage movement mechanisms and weaken rubber seals in watch heads.
- Enamel Jewelry. An ultrasonic cleaner does a great job of removing enamel paint. Don't place your enamel jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner unless you're trying to remove paint.
B. Jewelry Steam Cleaner
As the name suggests, a jewelry steam cleaner is a machine that uses steam to clean and restore jewelry's luster. Water from the reservoir heats up to produce high-pressure steam, usually about 50 to 55 psi, during the cleaning process. The high temperature and pressure combine to rapidly blow away any dirt, oil, or grime from jewels revealing gleaming, clean jewelry that appears brand new.
There are so many gemstones on the market that it's difficult to know which ones to steam clean without harming or damaging them. A jewelry steam cleaning may damage some gemstone treatments. Check whether your gem has been subjected to any type of gemstone treatment before beginning a jewelry steam cleaning.
C. All-Natural Soap + Soft Brush
A tiny brush with micro-fine cleansers and polymers in the bristles works like magic on diamonds and other precious stones to make them shine like new. Because diamonds are the hardest natural substance on earth, no amount of scrubbing, rubbing, wiping, brushing, or polishing can harm them. That is what makes diamonds so special. They are highly durable.
D. Jewelry Polishing Cloths
How to Use:
Caution: You Can Not Wash Polishing Cloths
A jewelry cleaning cloth is a useful tool for polishing precious jewelry. You don't need to take your jewelry to the jeweler anymore. However, there's a critical detail to bear in mind. Jewelry cleaning cloths are not washable. You will remove the pre-layered polishers (such as red rouge) by washing polishing cloths. You don't have to be concerned if your jewelry polishing cloths are filthy. You can continuously use the same jewelry polishing cloth until it becomes black. After using it many times, when it gets overly black (completely covered), it is time to replace it and purchase a new one. Washing jewelry polishing cloths is strongly discouraged.
Suppose you don't replace an overly black cleaning cloth for jewelry. In that case, it will hinder your cleaning efforts useless, leave a gray deposit behind and render a brilliant shine impossible to achieve. Most places charge around $5.00-$10.00 per piece, so replacing a jewelry cleaning cloth is inexpensive. Plus, it is much less expensive than a professional jewelry cleaning, which can cost up to $100 per piece.
SHOULD YOU OPT FOR PROFESSIONAL CLEANING SERVICES?
Professional cleaning services use buffing wheels to polish jewelry, making it look brand new. However, buffing wheels scour away a little layer of metal every time you have your jewelry cleaned. In layman's terms, a polishing wheel is a file that files down jewelry metal to make it smoother and ideally scratch-free. When a polishing wheel files down jewelry, the pieces become thinner and thinner. Sometimes, this results in unrecognizable thin jewelry. Plus, if the jewelry is polished incorrectly, the pieces may look lopsided.
As jewelry buyers already know, jewelry metal, especially one of the more expensive metals like 24k gold, is a pricey commodity. The cost of this precious metal and other similar expensive metals is usually determined by the purity levels (karat weight) and gold thickness. So, if you polish gold jewelry excessively, you are wasting money. Gold metal costs more because it is thicker. Each time you file down gold to "clean it," you are lowering the value of your gold pieces by reducing the gold thickness. This thinning of the metal is especially detrimental for jewelry buyers if the gold pieces are for resale. So it's best to only polish gold or other precious metals once or twice a year.
Also, most jewelry polishing houses have a lost gem policy. For example, suppose a loose gemstone falls out of its setting while polishing the piece, and the polisher cannot find it later. In that case, the jewelry polishing house is not liable for any missing stones or related damage. This loss is a personal risk that the jewelry buyer takes on. Thus, ensure all expensive jewelry has insurance before handing it off to the polisher.
WHY OVER-CLEANING IS BAD:
Polishing metal jewelry with a buffing wheel removes some of the metal every time you buff it. As mentioned earlier, this is because a buffing wheel is essentially a file. So the more you polish your jewelry, the thinner the metal becomes.
The price of jewelry is usually determined by two factors: 1) the quality or karat weight and 2) the thickness of the metal. Karat weight is pretty self-explanatory. It's how much gold, silver, etc., is in the piece. The thicker the metal, the more expensive it is as well. This higher price is because there is more precious metal in the piece.
If you over-polish your jewelry, you slowly but surely remove some of the metal with each buff. This excessive buffing means that you are not only making the piece less valuable because there is less metal, but you are also making it more susceptible to damage. Thin metal is much more likely to bend, break, or be damaged than thick metal.
Also, If you don't take care when polishing your jewelry, you can end up with lopsided or oddly shaped pieces. This is because applying too much pressure to one side of the jewelry while polishing is easy. This may or may not be corrected when you go to a professional jeweler for repairs or resizing.
Next, over-cleaning can also damage delicate gemstones. Some stones, like emeralds, are particularly fragile. If you clean them too frequently or use harsh chemicals, you risk damaging or shattering the stone.
Plus, a loose stone can fall out while cleaning the jewelry and become lost. Most professional jewelers have a "lost stone" policy, which means they are not responsible for any stones falling out of their settings during the polishing process. So if you have an expensive piece of jewelry with loose stones, it's best to take it to a professional setter before handing it over for polishing. This resetting decreases the chances of losing a stone.
Generally speaking, you should only clean your jewelry when it looks dirty. A simple at-home cleaning will do the trick if it's just a light build-up of dirt. But if it's really caked on, you'll need to take it to a professional jeweler for a deep cleaning.