This is actually fun! It's great to take a dirty, dull piece of jewellery and make it shine like new. It's important to follow these instructions, so print them out and keep them handy while you are cleaning your jewellery.
If your jewellery is valuable take it to a jeweller's
shop. If you have any doubts, stop right now!
Check our list of stones at the bottom of this document, do not use cleaning processes which could damage them. We don't charge for the advice here. We can't pay compensation if something goes wrong.
If you can see any damage, either cracks in the gems or damage to
the mount - don't clean it. You might make things
worse. Seek expert advice.
Make certain stones are secure before cleaning - a lost gem can be expensive to replace.
They are too powerful. They can damage jewellery, or
worse, injure the user.
Our staff do use them, but they have proper training before they are allowed to work unsupervised.
We see a lot of jewellery. Quite often it just doesn't
look good. There's so much dirt on it, that the stones are
dull, and even the metal loses its lustre.
Check the gems against our list. Can they stand soaking in water, and how hot? If you can soak the piece, this will soften the dirt, making it easier to remove. If there are no gems, then obviously you can use hot water to soak the jewellery.
If any gems must not be soaked, or charms have a paper insert,
go straight to the scrubbing stage. Otherwise loosen the dirt by
soaking the jewellery for 15 minutes. Add a splash of washing up
liquid, and let the piece soak for 15 minutes, then rinse. Use
very hot water, by this we mean water which has been boiled then
allowed to stand for about 10 minutes. Don't use boiling
water, as it could aggravate unseen flaws already present in your
If the piece includes heat sensitive gems then soak the piece in the hottest water which won't damage the stones.
Take the brush, some washing up liquid, and a little water.
Work the brush and some detergent into all the crevices, taking
special care to clean behind the stones (it's amazing how
much dirt accumulates there). Then rinse off, and dry on a tea
Chains and charm bracelets (assuming none of the charms will be damaged by water): let them form a heap in the palm of one hand, then work the brush with some washing up liquid and a little water into them as thoroughly as possible. Keep on until the water comes off clean - it will eventually! If the chain feels stiff, and won't fold into the palm of your hand, don't force it as that could damage the chain. Just place one piece at a time across your hand, and concentrate on that section. Finally rinse carefully, and dry.
Gold on silver should be treated like gold, until the plating
wears off. Other plated items and costume jewellery can be
damaged by polishing, so leave them alone.
Only polish items which should have a shiny surface. If the piece has a matt or satin finish, do not polish but you can remove discolouration with a soft eraser. Scratches cannot be treated at home. If you want the finish restored, take it to a jeweller.
This metal is too hard to polish at home. However this hardness means it will last for years before losing its shine. When it needs re-polishing, take it to a jeweller.
Yellow or red gold won't tarnish under normal
conditions. However it can happen, certain chemicals - some
used in medicines, others in products like bleach - will cause
discolouration. You can't deal with this problem at
home, your jeweller can help.
With time, white gold may turn yellow; again seek help from your jeweller.
In normal wear gold gets scratched. Rub steadily with a Silver (or Jewellery) Polishing Cloth, and its appearance will be somewhat improved. However you will not be able to achieve the brilliant polish of a new item. If you want the item restored to that condition, take it to your jeweller.
Silver does tarnish under normal conditions, so first we must
remove this tarnish. A few pieces are deliberately
"Antiqued" by blackening some parts; clearly removing
this darkening would ruin the effect, so these pieces should
simply be rubbed with a Silver Polishing Cloth to restore the
But for normal brightly polished silver, Silver dip is the easiest way to remove tarnish. If possible leave the item to soak for just a few minutes. If the stones shouldn't be immersed in Silver Dip or the piece is too large to fit in the jar, just rub the Dip on to the piece using your brush; it takes a bit longer but the results are just as good. When the tarnish has been removed, carefully rinse off all the Silver Dip. As mentioned before, do not use this product if the silver has a matt finish.
Finally rub the piece with a Silver Polishing Cloth, and you will restore its sheen. As with gold, you'll never get quite the same results as when the piece was new. If you so desire, your jeweller can renew the item; however many consider the patina which develops on hand-polished silver to be very pleasing. It's normally unwise to get antique silver polished.
Check carefully, these warnings could save your money!
The list is not comprehensive - if your jewellery contains other
gems, research elsewhere, or get the item cleaned
Be alert for coated gemstones - see the warnings about cleaning them further down this column. Remote sellers often fail to make clear their products include coated stones. If the gem colours are unusual or they have unusual names (like 'Mystic') they may well be coated. If you have any doubts follow the supplier's advice on cleaning carefully, or seek help from a competent jeweller.
Turquoise, don't soak in anything. It
is porous. In addition grease will discolour turquoise -
this includes grease from your skin, or from the
washing-up. Most modern material is impregnated with resin,
which makes it less porous. But err on the safe side.
Marcasites, an iron compound, so they rust in water. The cement which secures them deteriorates with age. Clean the piece gently with a brush, avoiding contact with the stones as much as possible. Eventually some stones will be lost, so take the item to a jeweller and get the stones replaced.
Rubies, fracture filled with lead glass, ideally seek the supplier's advice. If not available, proceed with caution as the stones are easily damaged. Brushing with luke-warm water should be safe, possibly with a drip of detergent if the stone is greasy. If really dirty, it may be better to risk soaking than repeated brushing. Do not expect these treated stones to last as long as real rubies.
PVD (Physical Vapour Deposition) - Coated Gemstones: Do not attempt to polish the jewellery, that includes using a polishing cloth. Soak in warm water, and clean the stones with a very soft brush. Finally dry on a paper towel.
Iridescent stones will be spoilt if the back is not thoroughly clean; make sure there is no grease on the back, and if the setting makes drying difficult give a final rinse in de-ionised water; deposits in tap water will mar the effect.
© Martin Rees, Jewellers, 61 Chester St, Wrexham. UK. LL13 8BA