The best (and easiest) way to clean your jewellery

Polish your pearls and buff your bling, it’s time to treat your jewellery to some TLC.

Updated

rings and cleaning cloth over blue tray

There are few possessions as personal as jewellery. Many of us have items passed down from family members. We have happy memories of twirling that gold necklace around a chubby finger as a toddler or playing dress-up with that pretty brooch. With the right love and care, these family heirlooms might be passed on to your own grandchildren in years to come. Whether you’re caring for an antique necklace or a newly bought charm bracelet, the best way to clean your jewellery really depends on what it’s made from. So without further ado, let’s get started…

First things first: fine jewellery scratches easily so it’s a good idea to buy a specialist jeweller’s cloth to clean it. Failing that, use a soft cotton or bamboo cloth (top tip: look for one without looped threads, as these could snag and damage your jewellery).

How to clean silver jewellery

To get your silver sparkling, you’ll need a silver polish or our DIY, all-natural solution for cleaning jewellery:

  • You’ll need a container that’s big enough to hold your jewellery without it being all bunched up.
  • Place a large square of aluminium foil in the container, shiny side up.
  • Sprinkle a heaped tablespoon of baking soda and the same again of salt over the foil.
  • Add some hot water to the container (enough to cover all your jewellery) and give it a gentle stir to dissolve the baking soda and salt.
  • Gently lower your silver jewellery into the water, making sure that necklaces don’t get bunched up and nothing is touching each other.
  • Soak for three to five minutes.
  • Lift your jewellery out, rinse it off and pat it dry with a soft towel.

(Alternatively, you can clean silver jewellery with toothpaste.)

How to clean silver-plated jewellery

Silver-plated items need an even gentler touch than solid silver, as a deep scratch could reveal the metal underneath. Luckily, the foil, baking soda and salt method above works just as well on silver-plated jewellery. It’s best to avoid the toothpaste method though, as it’s a bit too abrasive.

How to clean gold jewellery at home

Cleaning gold jewellery is easiest with a soft-bristled toothbrush and some warm soapy water. Leave your jewellery to soak for up to half an hour before gently rubbing it with the toothbrush. The key word here is gentle – gold is a relatively soft metal, so it’s quite easy to damage. Rinse your jewellery when it’s clean and pat it dry with a soft towel. You can also try this with gold-plated jewellery.

Read our full guide on cleaning and caring for gold jewellery.

How to clean a diamond ring

You might not want to give your diamonds and other precious stones an aluminium foil bath, but you can still keep them looking their shiniest, sparkliest best with just a little TLC. Whether your ring is silver, gold, titanium or platinum, it’s best to use the warm soapy water hack.

  • Squirt some mild washing up liquid or baby shampoo into a bowl of hot water and give it a swirl around.
  • Place your ring in the bowl and leave it to soak for half an hour
  • Gently brush it with an old, soft-bristled toothbrush. A baby one is ideal because it has particularly soft bristles.
  • Rinse your ring off when you’ve finished and pat it dry with a soft cloth.

Did you know you can also clean a diamond with vodka?

Jewellers recommend cleaning engagement rings and other daily jewellery every week to keep them looking their best. Realistically, that’s not going to happen, but a girl can dream of having that much spare time.

female hand cleaning ring with blue cloth

How to clean a vintage pearl necklace

Pearls fell out of fashion for a while, but we reckon they’re due a comeback. After all, if they were good enough for one of the world’s greatest style icons – Coco Chanel – they deserve to be given another turn in the spotlight. If you’ve been gifted a vintage pearl necklace, there’s a good chance it’s looking a bit dull and lacklustre, but with a bit of patience, you can easily restore its beauty.

  • Pearls need a super-soft touch, so step away from that old toothbrush for this one. A brushed cotton cloth works well, or an old scrap of velvet.
  • You’re not going to soak the necklace this time, but you might need some soapy water to dampen the cloth. It’s best to choose a natural fragrance-free liquid soap, like baby shampoo or castile soap.
  • Dip a corner of your cloth in the soapy water and use it to gently wipe a few pearls clean. Use a different part of the cloth for every few pearls or you’ll just be transferring the grime.
  • Once you’ve wiped all of the pearls, take a different soft cloth, dampen it in warm water (no soap this time) and wipe over all the pearls again. This will help to remove any soapy residue.
  • Leave the pearl necklace to air dry, or pat it with a dry cloth.

Need to clean a pearl necklace that’s gone yellow? Try this hack.

If you’re here because you’ve just picked up some vintage jewellery, we’re guessing some of the necklaces are rather tangled. Quite how chains tie themselves into such complicated knots is anyone’s guess, but head this way to find out how to untangle your necklaces.

Originally published