Buying a new piece of jewelry can be very exciting for many collectors. Building, admiring, and wearing your collection always give a sense of rush. However, when it comes to cleaning, this may feel less enthusiastic or even appealing.
After all, isn’t jewelry about wearing it and then keeping it back in your jewelry box? Caring for your fine jewelry goes far and beyond just wiping it down and keeping it away for safety. Because once tarnish starts setting in, then you may start seeing problems with your sparkling collection.
How To Prevent Jewelry From Tarnishing
Jewelry enthusiasts and collectors know that tarnish may be one of the biggest enemies of your precious collection. If it’s your first time to own one, or if you are still building your collection, it’s advised that you familiarize yourself with what tarnish is and what it does to precious metals.
When people ask, “Can tarnished jewelry be restored?” the immediate answer would be yes. Tarnished gold or silver pieces do not mean the end of the world for your collection. It just means that there may be quite a bit of cleaning involved. Let’s try to understand what exactly happens when your jewelry gets tarnished.
Why Does My Jewelry Tarnish?
Contrary to popular belief, real gold can tarnish. Silver is more vulnerable to tarnishing, and may need more cleaning and maintenance so it will last longer.
Some may believe that only the faux jewelry or cheap pieces can suffer from a lack of luster or even the blackened areas where it experienced the most wear and friction. In reality, the mere act of wearing your jewelry can already contribute to a bit of tarnish.
How does this happen? Jewelry tarnishing can occur when the precious metal of the piece comes in contact with different substances. From your clothes and skin down to the perfume and the fumes that you encounter—all of these can add onto the tarnished effect. Overtime and without proper cleaning, you may find your jewelry looking duller and less shiny.
Regular care for imitation or plated jewelry
Admittedly, jewelry can rack up the zeroes, more than what one’s bank account might allow. Thus, it’s no surprise that imitation jewelry or even plated treasures tend to be more popular. They may not comprise your entire collection, but they can be easy go-to accessories for everyday wear.
Imitation jewelry still needs a lot of care, given that their appearance can be more vulnerable to wear and tear. So, how do you keep cheap jewelry from tarnishing? It’s all about the care that go with the handling the trinkets. Never use brushes to get to the detailed nooks and corners, as that can damage the plating.
Soak fashion jewelry in warm water mixed with some hand soap. You can also put some drops of ammonia, taking care not to put too much to avoid a very soaking solution. Leave them for a few minutes so the solution can get through the grime and foreign particles before wiping them down with a soft cloth.
For faux gold-plated pieces, another solution involves white wine vinegar. Instead of soaking them, get a fine soft cloth, put in a few drops of the vinegar, and use that to clean the trinket. Leave it to air dry. These solutions work with the metal plating, but take care to not overdo it when imitation stones are involved.
Keeping Your Fine Jewelry Looking Fine
If the answer to “How do you keep cheap jewelry from tarnishing?” already presents quite a number of steps to keep them safe, then how much more will it mean to keep your main pieces looking their best?
Caring for fine jewelry entails a lot more than just the bare minimum. You can protect them from further tarnishing with these steps.
Set aside proper storage for jewelry pieces
Most collections can be kept in jewelry boxes, like the one in this Wooden Jewelry Box review, so they won’t be lost. But for the practical, on-the-go individuals, it may be a hassle taking them out and putting them back in every single day.
Create spaces in your vanity area for the jewelry that you wear on the regular. These may be basic earrings, your favorite or your most meaningful rings, simple necklaces, and a few casual trinkets. Find a storage space that keeps them dust-free even when they are left in that open space.
Be mindful of usage
Ideally, jewelry should be worn—after all, it shines brightest when it’s on its owner’s person. However, most people have their favorites that they wear them on more frequently. Figure out what you typically use and which ones tend to be taken in and out of storage on a daily basis.
For the jewelry pieces that you occasionally use, take care to wipe them down after every use. A common question that comes up always deals with “How do you remove tarnish from fake jewelry?” Rather than thinking of ways to remove tarnish—and it’s just as hard, regardless if it’s faux or fine jewelry—it’s best to be preventive.
It also helps to have a simple cleaning solution handy in the same area. Whether you suddenly feel like wearing a piece from your kept collection or when you’ve worn a favorite piece five times that week, it may be a nice idea to get some of that cleaning solution and run it through your jewelry pieces.
Keep your jewelry away from moisture
Jewelry tarnishing chemical, physical change in your jewelry piece. Some favorite pieces, like engagement or wedding rings, tend to be regarded as “part of us,” meaning they are rarely taken off when the wearer is outside of the house.
This may depend highly on the gemstone, because each type has a different reaction. Your best course of action would be to familiarize yourself with gems and get in touch with your local jeweler. They may be able to tell you the basics on how to care for specific fine jewelry.
Extra tip: If you have a lot of silver pieces, have a separate storage space for them. Have a jewelry box for silver, then store some chalk with the pieces. Chalk keeps out moisture, but it can be messy. You can also use silica packs
Home Hacks: Household Staples To Keep The Sparkle
Keep in mind that these home remedies typically work for gold or silver pieces, unless otherwise specified. If your jewelry pieces have gemstones, make sure that you check in with your local jeweler if it can withstand certain home remedies for cleaning. Others may need specialized cleaning solutions, which can be used for a wider variety of gemstones and even precious metals.
Check your cupboard and see if any of these can be your go to cleaning solution to your jewelry tarnishing issues.
Lemon juice and water
Have some extra lemon that you no longer have use for? Try squeezing out the juices and creating a 1:1 ratio of lemon juice to water. Mix them together in a bowl and soak your jewelry for anywhere between 10 to 15 minutes. Rinse them in running water before patting dry with a clean cloth, taking care not to scrub them dry.
Ammonia and water
If there is one home remedy that easily answers, “How do you fix tarnished jewelry?” for silver pieces, then it would have to be ammonia. Jewelry experts noted that this cleaning agent should be mixed with warm water in a 1:2 part ratio,
Ammonia is a favorite cleaning agent for many common precious metals including gold, silver, platinum, and brass. It’s also safe for diamonds, but proceed with caution: too much ammonia in the mix could still bring some kind of harm to your jewelry.
Toothpaste and a soft toothbrush
Believe it or not, toothpaste can be a good cleaning paste. Squeeze on a pea-sized blob on your finger and spread it all over the jewelry piece. Using a soft toothbrush—choose one with soft bristles—gently brush the crevices. Take care not to put too much pressure to avoid damaging your jewelry.
That’s right—you can crack one open, take a sip, and then soak your jewelry to give them back their shine. There may be more household staples to clean silver pieces. However, if you are more fond of minimalist gold jewelry, beer may solve your concerns with tarnishing.
Jewelry enthusiasts swear by this method with a few caveats. First, you need to use light beer. Lighter-colored beers have less alpha acids, so even if they retain their cleaning capacities, it will not be harsh on precious gold.
Your jewelry should also not have any gems or precious stones on them. Different gems have different reactions to certain chemicals and acids. They can be dulled upon contact with certain cleaning agents, so this method is really bent on solving how to keep gold jewelry from tarnishing.
Avoid: Soaps with unnecessary ingredients
Some soaps come with natural or no scent at all. Others offer a variety of scents and add-ons. Normally, some users may enjoy the latter depending on their preferences. But as far as jewelry cleaning is concerned, it’s best to stick with unscented soaps.
Skip soaps with artificial add-ons. It’s even better if you can stick to unscented or natural soaps. In this way, you’re not exposing your jewelry to even more vulnerabilities.
Avoid: Harsh cleaning materials
Ammonia may be your go-to cleaning agent for gold and silver, but that does not mean all cleaning products will have the same effect. In fact, other harsh chemicals like bleach can do more harm than good. When in doubt, try the least harsh chemicals first, sticking with dishwashing soap or your favorite jewelry cleaning solution.
Why Professional Cleaning Matters
When you encounter jewelry tarnishing, it’s easy to stick to just household remedies. Undeniably, they work, but proper care for jewelry entails that you have them checked by a professional jeweler.
This goes even more for fine jewelry. Fashion jewelry can make do with most home remedies, as they tend to be worn everyday and thus, be more worn down easily. Fine jewelry sets itself apart because it has always been a long-lasting kind of keepsake.
Think of your fine jewelry as long-lasting companions. While daily cleaning and careful use definitely safeguard your precious heirlooms from intense buildup of grime and dirt, they should still be seen by expert eyes.
That’s because professional jewelry cleaning goes just beyond taking out the tarnish. Your jewelry needs to check on a few things to keep its durability, sparkle, and style in order.
Check the setting
A lot of jewelry enthusiasts can be very meticulous when cleaning their precious treasures. However, it’s possible to still miss small details that make a big impact, such as the piece’s setting.
Rings often hold even more personal meanings, especially for those that mark milestone occasions in one’s life. If you tend to wear these often, your ring will likely experience damage from daily wear and tear. Even small bumps and knocks from your activities can compromise the integrity of the setting.
Part of the professional cleaning service is setting inspection. A jeweler will examine if the settings are still in place or if the stones are still firmly secured. If anything seems amiss, they can immediately remedy and make adjustments.
Expose it to ultrasonic cleaning
Many jewelers may expose your jewelry to ultrasonic cleaning. This process involves using a cleaning solution and a gadget that creates ultrasonic vibrations. Once submerged in the cleaning solution, the jewelry piece gets soaked and the gadget gives off vibration that dislodges any foreign particles that are on the jewelry. This is recommended for pieces like engagement rings, like the one in this Smyth Jewelers review.
You may be thinking that this can easily be done at home if you had the device. However, ultrasonic cleaning also requires proper knowledge of gemstones and precious metals. Not all gemstones can withstand the vibrations, whereas others may have adverse reactions to chemicals.
Have your gems polished
If you’re wondering “How do you fix tarnished jewelry?” especially if wear and tear already shows on the jewelry. This is where the polishing step comes in.
Polishing involves buffing the areas of the jewelry piece, such as scratched surfaces of rings or cloudy spots on pendant gems. Jewelers typically use a high-speed spinning wheel. Once the jewelry piece goes through the polishing wheel, the jeweler will give it a final water jet stream bath to wash away any particles. At the end of the process, your precious fine jewelry should come out looking brand new.
This process does not have to be done every so often. It’s best to consult with your jeweler and set regular schedules for deep cleaning. Take your collection one part at a time for their regular cleaning so you maximize those trips to your jeweler.
No Tarnish Means Longer Jewelry Life
Jewelry can indeed last more than a lifetime. It’s just a matter of knowing how to care for them by preventing tarnishing, deep cleaning and proper storage.
Check out more tips on how to care for your jewelry. Start by learning more about diamond alternatives, which can be found in this article, “Six Top Diamond Alternatives You May Not Know About.”