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Jewelry Cleaner Information

There are a lot of reasons people own jewelry. Some consider it a status symbol- wearing a large carat diamond implies wealth and power. Others wear it for sentimentality- the giving of jewelry is considered an act of love and affection. Some people just like to adorn themselves with sparkling accessories for the fun of it. Whatever the reason, people love to wear jewelry. Gold, silver, diamonds or pearls- it doesn't matter. It is form of expression.

As a jewelry owner, there is an obligation to keep the pieces clean and sparkling. But, there are so many products and machines available it may be confusing. Here is a breakdown of the common jewelry cleaners on the market, what they do and how to use them:

Basic liquid jewelry cleaners

Little jars of cleaner that come with a tray and a scrubbing brush are great ways to clean gold and diamond jewelry. This jewelry cleaner is compromised of ammonia, water and a mild soap. Allow the pieces to soak for 20 minutes or so and then work around the setting with the brush. This gets the lotion, dirt and oils that have accumulated under the stone. The brush is also good for removing dirt that is stuck between the grooves and links of gold jewelry. Sapphire and ruby pieces can also be placed in this type of jewelry cleaner. This basic liquid cleaner is a great way to do a quick touch up and get the sparkle and shine back.

This home-made solution works the same as this store-bought version 3/4 cup water, 4 drops gentle soap and 1/4 cup ammonia. Use a soft toothbrush to finish it off. Again, do not use this solution on soft or treated stones.

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners

This method is more aggressive in its cleaner power. Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners or sonic jewelry cleansers can be found in any jewelry store and there are also models to use at home. This method uses a solution, which may or may not be heated, much like the one above and ultrasonic waves to knock the dirt and grime from the jewelry. The vibrations create bubbles which oscillate and work their way in and around the jewelry knocking the grime away. Once the process is complete, a gentle scrub removes any remaining debris and then wipe with a soft cloth. The finished product is brilliant.

This method is great for gold jewelry and pieces that have the harder gemstones- diamonds, rubies or sapphires. However, if any of these stones have been treated, enhanced or have visible inclusions, the vibrations may cause damage to the finish or cause a crack at the inclusion site. Another precaution to take is to check the setting for loose stones or broken prongs before placing the piece in the machine. Soft gemstones should never be placed in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner because of its aggressive cleaning process.

Jewelry Steam Cleaners

Jewelry stores often have jewelry steam cleaners in the back, but there is also a home version on the market as well. This cleaning method is great, particularly for intricately set stones, but it must be done with care. Use tongs or some other device to hold the piece under the nozzle. A blast of steam comes out and obliterates the dirt and grime from the stone and the setting. To get the best results, turn the piece so steam hits it at different angles.

Jewelry Cleaners-- Polishing Cloths

This product is for the gemstones that cannot be submersed in liquid solutions, heated or agitated when cleaning. A dry cloth should be used on delicate pieces like pearls, opals and amber. But, some clothes are pre-treated with a gentle solution but plain clothes can be dipped in a homemade solution of mild soap and tepid water. Just moisten the cloth and then use it on other pieces that need cleaning.

Silver Jewelry Cleaners

Silver jewelry is fun to wear, but it requires maintenance to keep that sleek silver shine. The problem with silver is the tarnishing process. This occurs because sterling silver is not 100% silver, but also a small portion of copper. The copper is what oxidizes leaving that black mark on the jewelry. Silver jewelry cleaners come in a variety of forms which makes it easier than the old days of pulling out the messy paste to clean the pieces. Now, there is a liquid form that the silver can soak in, there are treated wipes that make for a great touch-up on the fly and of course, the creams and pastes. Without regular cleaning, it can become harder and harder to remove the tarnish.

To keep special pieces looking like new, always inquire about proper cleaning methods if you are at all unsure about what to do. For at home maintenance, many jewelry cleaners are made specifically for certain metals and gemstones. Follow the directions carefully for any cleaning machine or solution to avoid damaging the finish or integrity of the jewelry. It can last a lifetime but look brand new if it is properly cared for and cleaned.