quick Web search will turn up hundreds of different methods for cleaning your jewelry—like using toothpaste to make diamonds sparkle, beer to shine gold and ketchup to polish silver. These are exactly the kind of clever tricks you’d love to try…just not on your own jewelry. So instead of experimenting with Grandma’s heirlooms, we talked to the pros to find out how to safely care for your jewelry.
“The best way to clean a diamond is with warm soapy water and a soft-bristle brush or old toothbrush,” says Loretta Castoro, vice president and international jewelry buyer for Jewelry Television. Pat it dry with a soft cloth. You may have heard that using toothpaste gets your diamond to sparkle; it’s not a great idea, says Castro. “While toothpaste won’t harm the diamond, it is abrasive enough to harm the softer metals next to the diamond, like silver, so it is not recommended.”
Always remove gold jewelry before showering or cleaning because “soap and chemicals can cause a film to form on karat gold, which makes it appear dull and dingy,” says Castoro. While there are plenty of commercial cleaners available, it’s just as effective to clean gold with what you already have. For untarnished jewelry, mix a few drops of mild dish detergent with warm water, and scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush. If it’s tarnished, mix a few drops of ammonia into soapy water, submerge the jewelry and carefully brush with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse it with lukewarm water and allow it to dry.
Avoiding chlorine is key to keeping gold jewelry looking good. “Chlorine at high temperatures, like in a hot tub, can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry,” says Castoro.