We all have them at home, those jewelry cleaners that you can dip your silver and gold jewelry into for a few seconds and all comes out sparkling. Or does it?
Recently, I purchased an all around jewelry cleaner from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It did not state particularly which jewelry it was NOT suited for, so I figured it would do for everything.
Not even the Sterling Silver jewelry survived a quick dip. I was absolutely shocked and devastated to find it turn yellow and brassy! I was in total disbelief, at first wondering whether all my silver jewelry was, in fact, silver at all! Then, furious, I got into contact with the manufacturer who stated that I should have used their specific ‘Sterling Silver Cleaner’. Ok. Luckily, they sent me a little pot of it and it actually managed to restore my Sterling Silver jewelry back to normal – thank goodness!
However, all this made me think about my costume jewelry and my creations. Most of the jewelry I make, with the exception of some earrings that are Sterling Silver or Gold, is not made of precious metals although I use real stones and gemstones. I found that some of my bracelets were starting to oxidize and develop an unsightly film or even discolor. I was too scared, frankly, to use any of these industrial jewelry cleaners on it – especially since my durable Sterling Silver jewelry was almost destroyed.
Cleaning Costume Jewelry (Non-Precious Metals)
First of all, non precious metals are not good with harsh cleaners that can often remove plating or damage the metal. Even leaving costume jewelry sit in water for too long can damage it. So what should you do?
If ‘dry cleaning’ with a toothbrush, toothpick and a soft clean cloth, does not help, then water and a gentle cleaning solution (try baby shampoo) may be the answer:
Mix a small amount of baby shampoo in lukewarm water in a little bowl. Rather than dipping the jewelry into the bowl, hold it in your hand and with a very soft toothbrush (best is a baby toothbrush) that has been wet with the cleaning solution, gently try to lift any dirt on the jewelry piece and if needs be, gently brush the piece until you are satisfied.
Rinse the piece of jewelry quickly under the tap, again with lukewarm water. Then, dry the piece of jewelry with a clean and soft cloth. You must make sure that there is no water whatsoever left on the piece, as any leftover water will damage it. For this purpose, you might even want to use a hair dryer set on a cool setting. The last step would be to gently polish the piece with a dry, clean and soft cloth.
What if your jewelry, after trying the dry and the wet cleaning, is still dirty or discolored?
There is another method.
Try a cotton wool bud dipped in a little non-acetone nail varnish remover and gently wipe/scrub your costume jewelry piece with this. Afterwards, rinse the piece in lukewarm water and dry off as I have described above.
What Do I Use?
Personally, I like using lukewarm water with a drop of shampoo and find it deals with most, if not all discolorations and dirt. For my precious metal jewelry, I do use the usual cleaners for dipping, making sure to check the labels thoroughly and use the right cleaner for the right metal. Additionally, I also try not to dip the jewelry for too long (less time than it says on the label), as that can also cause damage. Rather, dipping for a short time, and if necessary dipping again for a (short) second time, is a better approach.
I hope this article has helped you to get your jewelry all sparkly again. Comment on this post directly for a 10% off coupon for my entire site: http://www.sunseaandjewelry.etsy.com
Happy jewelry cleaning!