How To Care, Clean And Store Jewelry

Not sure how to properly clean and care for your jewelry? Here is your guide to help you keep your precious pieces looking gorgeous forever.

Nicky Thomas

Gemstone & Jewelry
Style & Trends Editor

All jewelry, from every day to fine one-of-a-kind pieces need to be cared for properly and cleaned on a semi regular basis to remove the natural build up of grime that clog up the settings and make the stones and metal look dull and lifeless. Done regularly and properly will ensure your beloved pieces will continue to look gorgeous for years to come.


You just have to look on-line and you will see a huge number of ways to clean your jewelry at home, from store bought home cleaning kits to aluminum foil, ammonia, baking soda, vinegar, various types of alcohol, toothpaste, effervescent tablets and powders to,.. KETCHUP…!? Just to name a few that I found.

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They all claim to work – and yes they may. I have not tried any of them myself as I am not convinced and I don’t want to risk my beautiful jewelry in the process!

The best way… is good honest hot soapy water and a soft toothbrush.

After you have made yourself your morning coffee or afternoon cuppa, use some of the left over hot water and pour over your piece of jewelry in a cup, add a squirt of washing up liquid, swirl it around to dissolve and leave to soak for a while. 

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Using a soft toothbrush, give your piece a gentle scrub - making sure not to forget the back. Rinse well, as the soapy water will make the stones look dull. Allow to dry, then buff up and ‘polish’ to remove any water marks and finger prints with a soft, clean chamois cloth or something similar.

Ultrasonic Cleaners And Steam Cleaners

Some jewelry stores offer cleaning services using Ultrasonic or Steam Cleansers, these are fine for Diamond jewelry and harder gemstones such as Rubies and Sapphires (see the Mohs Scale) but they are a real “No, No” for most other colored gemstones such as Tanzanite and Emeralds.   These cleaners’ uses high frequency vibration and high heat to clean the stones and this may affect the “cleavage” of your stones.
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As with all jewelry it should be resistant to every day heat, light, most common chemicals and general every day wear and activities.

Even so, you should not

° expose it to sudden temperature changes or extreme heat.

° expose it to very harsh chemicals such as hydrochloric acid as it will corrode the piece.

It is also best to remove your jewelry before:

° Bathing/showering or swimming

° Applying lotions or beauty products

° Washing up and doing other household cleaning/chores

° Gardening or other hard laborious actives

° Going to the gym or playing sports

As these increase the risk of harder knocks or bangs, scratching and exposing it to other chemicals that may dull or corrode the stones or metals.


Try to keep pieces separate from one another in jewelry storage pouches, stands or boxes, as rubbing up against each other will over time, cause your jewelry to become scratched or scuffed. Diamonds are the strongest mineral and will scratch other stones and metals.

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Silver naturally tarnishes – don’t leave it sitting in your jewelry box, wear it! It becomes shinier the more it's worn (the friction slows down the tarnishing). When you’re not wearing them, store them in anti-tarnish bags.

What To Do If Your Stone Does Scratch Or Become Loose

The image below represents a very extreme example of scratching on a Tanzanite's table. Whilst this is an extreme example (it looks like the owner did her gardening wearing it!), this can occur in various degrees of severity. 

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If your stone does get scratched, it can be restored to its former glory by having it polished up again to remove scratches and dullness by a good reputable lapidary. There should be no loss of weight as polishing is remarkably “forgiving” in this regard.

A good bench jeweler will also be able to fix a loose stone in its setting, will be able to re-rhodium plate a piece of jewelry if the plating starts to wear off and polish up the metal if it has become scratched. Again there should be no loss of weight to the stones or metal in the process.  

What To Do If Your Stones Crack Or Chip

Unfortunately this is a larger problem and depending on how damaged the stones are, may require replacing or re-cutting to remove the crack or chip. This may also result in the actual piece being re-made.

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Your jewelry will over time get a natural build up of dust, soap, lotions/cream, sweat (err..!) and other general bits of grime, that will clog up your piece, especially at the back. But by removing them before showering, putting on your lotion, doing the washing up, cooking and going to the gym you will reduce this build up. A regular clean and good storage will ensure your special piece will remain gorgeous for a life time.


Educated at the University of Exeter and a key part of our team here at The Rare Gemstone Company, Nicky has been fascinated by gemstones and jewelry since childhood. She explores all areas of the industry in her blog and revels in the proximity to gems and jewels that working at the source of some of the world’s most beautiful and rarest gemstones provides her.

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