How to Clean Your Jewelry

From a diamond ring to a pair of copper earrings, your jewelry can get dirty over time. Oil and dander from your skin, dust, and residue from soap and hand cream can all build up and leave your pieces looking dull. Whether it’s an antique silver ring or a vintage sapphire necklace, cleaning your jewelry on a regular basis can help you breathe new life into your treasured pieces and protect them from premature wear.

Most jewelers have a couple of methods they use to clean jewelry, depending on the type of metal or stone. Some methods require special cleaners or abrasive materials, while others are gentle enough for even delicate gemstones and precious metals. We tapped experts to share their tried-and-true techniques for cleaning everything from your daily basics to the stately jewelry you only wear on special occasions.

For rings, pendants, and other jewelry made from hard metals such as gold or silver, the simplest solution is a bit of soap and water. A bit of mild dishwashing soap can cut through dirt, grease, and other grime without damaging your precious metals or stones. Simply add a drop or two of mild soap to a basin of warm water and let your jewelry soak for 10-15 minutes. Then, scrub it with a soft-bristled toothbrush to get in any of the crevices and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth when dry.

A bit more abrasive than basic soap and water, toothpaste can also be used to clean jewelry. Choose a low-abrasion, solid-color toothpaste without extra whitening or tartar control ingredients, and apply a thin layer to your jewelry. Rub it in with a soft brush and rinse well.

This jewelry cleaner works best for pieces with a high amount of surface tarnish or minor spots and scratches. It’s not strong enough to clean rust or major buildup.

The steam and heat from a hot water bath loosens dirt particles and makes them easier to wipe away. This is a simple, inexpensive, and effective method for most types of metal jewelry and most stones except pearls, opals, and other soft gems.

The acidity of witch hazel and baking soda won’t agree with most softer stones or plated jewelry, so we don’t recommend them for this task. But if you have some on hand, try lining a small bowl with aluminum foil, adding salt, baking soda, and hot water, and then soaking your jewelry for about 10 minutes. Scrub it gently with an old toothbrush and rinse.