Keeping your gold jewelry in perfect condition can be a chore depending on the type of jewelry it is and the amount of wear it gets – that’s why learning to clean your jewelry at home, between your trips to the jewelers, is the best way to keep the precious gemstones in your jewelry box gleaming for years to come.
Whether you have 10, 14, 18, or 24 karat gold pieces in your collection, you will want to keep them free of oils or a film from soaps and perfumes that can cause your gold pieces to tarnish. Keep in mind, pure gold does not tarnish, but pure gold (24 karat) is a very soft metal, so most solid gold pieces are an alloy (gold mixed with other metals) to give them strength – these alloys can tarnish and sometimes erode due to soaps, oils, and wear and tear.
Due to the malleable nature of gold jewelry, it may not be the best idea to clean your gold jewelry at home too often unless your jeweler suggests it, but rather taking it to a professional for cleaning to eliminate possible damage to the jewelry from doing it yourself. However, if done properly and carefully, it can be done, and here are a few tips to keep in mind when cleaning your solid gold at home.
1. Warm Water
Get a small bowl of warm water and put a small amount of blue Dawn dish soap in it. You’ll want to avoid a harsh cleaning solution that could damage the piece. A good rule of thumb is the fewer ingredients, the more delicate it will be on the jewelry. Not all jewelry cleaning solutions are good for all types of jewelry, so in most cases, Dawn dish soap will suffice. Dip the gold jewelry in the water and then remove it without letting it sit in the water for too long.
2. Gently Scrub
Over a soft cloth, take a fine or soft toothbrush – a new infant soft toothbrush is best – and gently brush the gold jewelry, being very careful around any gemstones, to remove any dirt, particles, and film on the solid gold piece.
3. Rinse and Polish
After brushing gently, rinse the gold jewelry in cool water. Take a lint-free, soft cloth, such as microfiber or a polishing cloth to gently polish and dry the gold jewelry piece, and then lay it out on another soft cloth to finish air-drying before safely storing it back in your jewelry box.
4. Repeat if Necessary
If your gold jewelry piece is not restored to its former brightness and shine, repeat the process beginning with warm water again. If your gold jewelry is not as bright as before, or if your pure gold piece is not “mirror bright*” and cleaning again does not restore it, reach out to your jeweler to make sure your gold jewelry piece has not been damaged.
*pure gold pieces are as reflective as a mirrored surface, however, due to the convex nature of gold, it is not likely that you will see your reflection clearly.
5. Other Solutions
Other gold jewelry cleaners that can be commonly found in your home and are as effective as dish soap are:
- White Vinegar
- Seltzer Water
- Plain Toothpaste
For harder gemstones such as diamonds and sapphires, all the above cleaners are adequate to clean your jewelry. However, if your piece has softer or more porous gems such as emeralds or turquoise, only a mild dish cleaning liquid or a cleaner designed for those stones should be used as any other cleaner may damage them.
- When wearing jewelry of any kind, especially gold jewelry, be cautious of extreme wear as this can cause damage to softer metals like gold.
- Things like sticking your hands into tight pockets that may catch a ring or harsh temperature changes on a necklace should be avoided if possible.
- You should avoid wearing jewelry into a sauna or hot tub as the chlorine and heat can break down your jewelry.
- Take off jewelry before showering or washing dishes to avoid body wash, shampoos, conditioners, scrubs, or strong dish cleaning liquids to come into contact with your jewelry as it can break down the metals and gems.
- Take off jewelry before coloring, bleaching, or perming your hair.
- Take off jewelry before using lotions, hairspray, or makeup setting spray.
- Put your jewelry on after putting on makeup as some makeup can have chemicals that break down metals and gems.
- Avoid sleeping in gold jewelry as sweat and oils from your skin will cause your pieces to lose their shine and can cause damage or cause you to lose your jewelry while you sleep.
Overall, the best thing you can do for your jewelry is to keep it cleaned and assessed regularly by a jeweler, this will keep your pieces in the best condition possible so they can outlast time itself. In between professional cleanings, cleaning your pieces at home is a good idea to keep their shine and durability.