Handy hints Posted on 23 Sep 00:00

Sparkle Plenty: Helpful tips for cleaning & caring for your jewelry

If you’re anything like us at The Bead Shop Queenstown, you always want your jewelry to look its best. Sometimes that means giving your favourite pieces some much-needed TLC, either in the form of cleaning or polishing your jewelry. Below are some DIY methods for cleaning various types of jewelry.

Jewelry cleaning disclaimer: Always take any pieces you are unsure of to a jewelry expert first. Also, please read the recommendations carefully, because certain methods should not be used on certain types of jewelry.

For sterling silver jewelry with no stones or beads:

Make a small bowl out of aluminum foil (shiny side up) and lay out silver jewelry on the foil. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp baking soda on top of the item(s), then pour approximately 2 cups of boiling water over the baking soda. Move the jewelry around slightly to release any dirt. Let the piece(s) soak for about 10 minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry with a soft cloth.


For solid gold jewelry with no stones or beads:

Pour a small amount of light beer (Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, etc.) on a non-abrasive cloth and gently rub where dirt/tarnish is obvious. Wipe off any moisture with a dry, soft cloth. The beer’s natural acids help bring back the shine — who knew?


For costume jewelry (or any other jewelry that is made of unknown metal):

DO NOT submerge the jewelry in water; depending on the metal your jewelry is made of, this could seriously damage your piece. So when in doubt, don’t!

  • For any painted jewelry, spray a little vinegar on a soft cloth. It’s less abrasive for rhinestones, so won’t remove the paint.


          GREEN SPOTS?

  • Do you see green spots on the clip components of your earrings, on the pin backs of your vintage brooches, etc.? That’s verdigris, which is a green or bluish deposit formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces that have been exposed to continuous humidity and/or sea air. If you see this on your jewelry, make sure that you get the “infected” pieces away from everything else in your collection before it spreads to your other pieces. Brass and copper are especially susceptible, especially if they’re unfinished or sealant-free.
  • To remove existing verdigris, soak a paper towel or cotton pad in vinegar and simply wrap the clip/pin the brooch around it. Let the item sit for at least 15 minutes, then wipe off the green spots. Vinegar-soaked Q-tips can help you get the hard-to-reach parts.



One safe method to spruce up any kind of jewelry (including pieces with pearls, gemstones, or any other delicate element or embellishment) is to polish it with a polishing cloth. Gentle on all metals and stones, polishing cloths can be used repeatedly until they’re worn to shreds. You may have to use some serious elbow grease to see results, and not all metals may end up shining up like they were when they were new, but it’s worth a shot!


The no No NO!!

One cleaning material NOT to use on any type of jewelry: toothpaste. Many folks incorrectly use toothpaste as a way to clean tarnished jewellery. However handy it may be, jewellery experts say that toothpaste should NOT be used to clean jewelry because it contains ingredients that are very abrasive. This is especially true of silver-plated items, because the toothpaste can damage the silver plating and expose the other metal underneath, leading to eventual corrosion.

Hope this has been useful … summer is on it's way, so give your jewellery a spring clean and enjoy wearing the old favorites with a new shine!