Keep It Classy, Keep It Shiny: Cleaning Your Jewelry


I probably wash my hands either with soap and water or with hand sanitizer fifty times a day. My hands are in soapy water more times than I need to count, because it is summer break and everyone wants to eat another snack on yet another dish. I use more cleaning products than a hospital with a cat, dog, toddler, a 6 year old, and a husband who is intent on making messes everywhere they go.  I spend my weeks dusting, mopping, scrubbing and vacuuming. Sometimes, I will admit that I have a touch of OCD when it comes to cleaning, when I am cleaning the baseboards with a toothbrush, I think is this too much cleaning? Nah.

Here is the thing though. Ask me when was the last time I cleaned a piece of jewelry, or even thought about keeping a piece of jewelry clean. I bet if you are like me, the answer is probably somewhere between the realm of never and what I am supposed to clean jewelry? Sure, if I pass the store where my husband bought my wedding set, maybe once a year, I will let them clean the guacamole and who knows what else out of the crevices of my rings, but what about the other pieces of jewelry I wear. Don’t they get any love?

So, let’s break it down together before our jewelry pieces that we adore, those pieces that subtly define our mood each day, start breaking down instead.  First thing is first. Usually, when you receive a piece of handmade jewelry, the jewelry maker is usually kind enough to send care instructions. I will be the first to admit that I, in turn, usually toss these instructions in the recycle bin.  Wrong move of course. We all need to read these instructions. The maker of the piece is the expert on how to care for it. Jewelry needs to usually be kept in a cool, dry place; think plastic bag, jewelry box, or even the original box that the piece came in. This can ensure that any moisture will be kept out, which is especially needed in beaded pieces.  All that hand washing can also break down the beads, so it is especially important to try and remember to take your pieces off before cleaning!

So let’s see you have been doing your duty, keeping your pieces securely snugly in their boxes and keeping them from water. Now, what do you do, when, over time, pieces start to tarnish? That, of course, depends on the piece’s composition.


For precious metals, there is a lot of jewelry cleaning products that you can buy in the store.  They can be purchased at big box stores, and the general idea is you soak the piece for a few minutes in a solution, then use a cleaning brush provided. These do work for quick clean up jobs. However, I do recommend taking an extra step and bringing your more precious metal pieces to a jewelry store. Most of the time, they will inspect your piece for any damages and clean the piece for free or little cost.  


For beaded jewelry, handmade pieces, usually less harsh cleaning is needed. You can easily make a mixture at home with boiling water (1 cup), vinegar (½ cup) and baking soda (1 tablespoon) that can make those pieces look as good as new.  However, remember to test a small piece of the jewelry if you are hesitant and concerned just to make sure it does not discolor any of the beading. Mix the ingredients. Take a small brush and dip it into the mixture, then use the brush to gently scrub any residue or tarnish on your piece. Be sure to rinse and THROUGHLY dry the piece!

Remember, if you take care of your jewelry, it can give you a lifetime of style grace and happiness. Take your pieces of each night, take your pieces off to wash your hands or when using any harsh cleaning chemicals, and store your pieces in clean, dry containers, and you should have no trouble. Now, your family on the other hand, well you will be cleaning up after them forever. I’m off to do my fifth load of laundry, so good luck! At least now my jewelry will look good. Can’t say the same about my baseboards.   

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