If You Want Your Jewelry To Last, Experts Say You Need These Lifesavers

Maintain and extend the life of your pieces (whether they're valuable or just costume jewelry) with these polishing cloths, tarnish-removers and more.
A sonic jewelry cleaner, a polishing cloth and tarnish-removing pads.

Admittedly, my jewelry stash is the last thing I think about cleaning regularly, but a recent HuffPost story had me realizing that routine jewelry maintenance is essential. Not just for making sure my adored pieces stay looking their best, but to ensure they’ll last as long as possible.

It also turns out this doesn’t just apply to “real” and fine jewelry. Proper cleaning and storage of all your sparkly goods can also maintain the lifespan of your most affordable costume jewelry, too.

To find the best jewelry cleaning products, methods and tools available, I asked a couple of expert jewelers what they recommend or use themselves. According to the creative director at Spur Jewelry, Simone Paasche, how often you clean your jewelry and what you use to do it entirely depends on the material.

“Platinum or gold set with diamonds can be cleaned frequently. Colorful gemstones are softer and they should be treated gently, cleaned infrequently,” she said.

But be extra careful with pieces containing opals and pearls, as those should be cleaned just with polishing and not using any liquid solutions, Paasche cautioned.

“Preventative care is just as important as regular cleaning,” said Andrej Strojin, the CEO and co-founder of New England-based jewelry company Haverhill.

“Avoid getting lotions, sunscreen, perfume and harsh household cleaners (such as bleach) on your jewelry to best maintain its’ shine,” he said.

For a more in-depth understanding about the specific material of your jewelry and how to clean it, refer to our previous coverage. But if you already know what you’re working with and are ready to shine your jewelry into optimal brilliance, keep reading to see our jeweler-recommended cleaning products below.

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A polishing cloth
Simone Paasche, creative director at Spur Jewelry, said that Sunshine polishing cloths are very popular at the company, which renovates heirloom materials into the new wearable pieces.

The long-lasting and pre-soaked cloth uses very fine micro-abrasives and a cleansing agent to remove any tarnish or grime from jewelry's surface so pieces look brighter and shinier.

"These are great for smooth metal surfaces like a signet ring or disk pendant," Paasche said.
Illuminating tarnish-removing pads
Another polisher suggested by Paasche is this set of buffing "Poms" that Paasche said can be a nice portable cleaner, since they don't require the use of water or cleaning solution. Each of these three pads are formula- and ingredient-free, so they can be good for nearly every type of jewelry, and are made with a non-abrasive hydrophilic material that absorbs and traps debris, oil and buildup from jewelry's surface.
An ultra-sonic jewelry cleaner
Andrej Strojin, CEO and co-founder of New England-based jewelry company Haverhill, said that some people prefer a more automated process when cleaning their jewelry and in cases like these, you can purchase an ultra-sonic cleaner. Sonic cleaners like this one use vibration-like waves and water-based solution to penetrate crevices and loosen debris, buildup and grime, though these generally are not the tools to use for removing tarnish or for lower quality pieces.
A plant-based concentrate for sonic cleaners
Strojin said that if you're going the sonic cleaning route, you should be mindful of the cleansing solution you use in the machine and steer away from overly abrasive solutions or detergents.

Instead, he suggests things like vinegar, baking soda mixtures or plant-based cleaners specifically meant for ultrasonic machines, which the company claims are gentle on the environment and safe to use on a variety of jewelry materials.

We chose this highly rated plant-based concentrate by Calyptus uses a proprietary agent that binds tightly to metals to help dislodge stubborn grime and oils.

"It's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for the ultrasonic machine and dilute the cleaning agent appropriately," Strojin said.
A classic dish soap formula
"The best bet is always warm diluted soapy water and a soft bristled tooth brush," Paasche said. "Let your jewels soak in a glass of this concoction and you will see the water turn gray before you even begin brushing! Dawn dish soap works beautifully for this."

There's a good chance you already have a bottle of this time-honored soap in your kitchen already, but in case you don't, you can stock up here. And just a reminder, this grease-cutting formula uses 100% biodegradable surfactants to achieve nearly all of your cleaning needs.
A mild castile soap
Strojin's soap recommendation is any mild formula that's free from strong fragrances, dyes and abrasives and he calls castile soap "a great choice." The Haverhill jewelry care guide provided by the co-founder describes castile as a gentle liquid soap made from natural ingredients, like olive oil, that is safe to use on jewelry. We selected this popular 100% castile formula that's unscented.
Ultra-soft micro-bristled toothbrushes
Both Strojin and Paasche agree that using a soft-bristled toothbrush for the "soak and scrub" method is the best choice. Based on this tip, we found this two-pack of brushes that features more than 15,000 ultra-fine and soft bristles that claim to be very gentle on surfaces.
A jewelry-cleaning shine stick
"This jewelry cleaning stick is perfect for travel," Paasche said of this pre-loaded pen featuring a brush tip whose bristles can easily reach in tight crevices and stone settings. Just twist to release the solution, apply to jewelry then rinse and dry.
A stackable set of velvet-lined storage trays
We previously spoke to Karina Brez, a third-generation jeweler, who said that storage definitely plays a part in keeping and maintaining your jewelry. She suggested opting for a soft storage solution like a velvet- or leather-lined, which can prevent scratches on stones and metals.

We chose this very well-rated and stackable set of four trays, which are covered in a soft velvet fabric and have tons of different organizational compartments for rings, necklaces, bracelets and more.

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