Knowing how to clean your diamond jewelry at home is essential to maintaining its brilliance and luster. Unfortunately, many do-it-yourself cleaning tips people suggest on social media can have disastrous consequences.
For example, cleaning your jewelry with toothpaste is not a good idea because the abrasives scratch the polish. Similarly, soaking fine jewelry in harsh chemicals like bleach and other household chemicals may cause a redox reaction.
In that case, a reaction between the base metals in the alloy reacts with the chemicals and affects the ring's structural integrity. Consequently, this is also why people should not wear fine jewelry in chlorinated pools or hot tubs.
How To Clean Diamond Rings
Watching your diamond ring sizzle in the sunlight and brilliantly dazzle your senses can be mesmerizing. Unfortunately, dampening its spirit doesn't take much; just a dab of hand cream, moisturizer, or hairspray is sufficient.
It's a good idea to have a qualified jeweler professionally clean and inspect your jewelry twice yearly. However, knowing how to quickly clean your ring and restore its luminous luster between professional cleanings is also essential.
Fortunately, cleaning your ring at home is fast and easy, and the odds are you have everything you need at your fingertips. The first things to avoid are common household cleaners and sanitizers, which can have harsh chemical effects.
You also don't need an expensive ultrasonic cleaner or special jewelry cleaning solutions. A few drops of dish soap, warm water, a soft-bristled toothbrush, and a soft, lint-free cloth does the trick quite nicely. Literally, nothing else is required.
How to Clean Fine Jewelry at Home
Dirt, lotions, and the natural oils from our skin can dampen the luster of diamonds and colored gems over time. It can also work into fine jewelry's prongs and ornamental structure, resulting in undesirable skin conditions.
Note: We recommend having a qualified jeweler clean and inspect your diamond rings and jewelry at least twice yearly. They're best equipped to check for loose stones, worn prongs, and repair structural integrity issues. That said, here's how to clean your ring between professional cleanings:
- 1Prepare a Solution: Place a few drops of mild dish soap, like Dawn, in a small container of warm water. Avoid hot water because the thermal shock can damage some fragile gemstones.
- 2Soak the Ring: Place your diamond ring in the solution and let it soak for 15 to 30 minutes.
- 3Brush Gently: Gently scrub the diamond and the setting using a soft-bristle toothbrush. Gently scrub the diamond and ring, ensuring you get into the crevices where grime accumulates, and avoid catching the prongs or pulling them back.
- 4Rinse & Dry: Close the sink trap and rinse the ring under lukewarm running water. Pat dry with a soft, lint-free cloth; you may use a jewelry polishing cloth to remove light scratches.
How Often Should You Clean Diamond Jewelry?
The frequency you clean your diamond jewelry depends on personal preference and its appearance. Under perfect circumstances, we recommend cleaning your jewelry based on how frequently it is worn.
However, sometimes we only consider how our jewelry looks when preparing for a special event. In that case, knowing how to clean your jewelry at home can be a lifesaver. Here's what we recommend in terms of timing:
Remember, more frequent cleaning is not harmful if done correctly, but over-cleaning with harsh methods like ultrasonics can wear out the setting.
What Not To Use When Cleaning Jewelry
Knowing what not to use when cleaning jewelry is essential to ensuring the safety of your gem and the settings' integrity. Diamond is the hardest mineral on earth, chemically inert to most acids and alkalis. However, those same chemicals can destroy porous gemstones and significantly damage settings.
For those reasons, avoiding harsh chemicals, ultrasonic cleaners, and cold or hot temperatures is best when cleaning jewelry at home. Avoid the following at all costs:
- 1Abrasive Materials: Avoid baking soda or toothpaste, as they can create microabrasions and scratch the metal.
- 2Extreme Temperatures: Subjecting diamonds and gems to ice-cold or boiling water can be harmful due to thermal contraction and expansion. In short, it can cause gemstones to crack or shatter due to the inclusions or relative hardness. For example, one of our clients broke her opal by wearing it in a hot tub after skiing.
- 3Harsh Chemicals: Avoid chemicals like acetone, bleach, chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, and vinegar. These can damage softer, porous gems and erode some of the alloys mixed with gold, palladium, platinum, and titanium.
Home Jewelry Cleaning Remedies to Avoid
There are many recipes for do-it-yourself homemade jewelry cleaners floating around online. Unfortunately, many contain ingredients that cause our gemological minds to shudder at the possibilities.
For example, one suggests combining baking soda, tea tree oil, and witch hazel. While another encourages people to boil their jewelry in baking soda, salt water, and vinegar. Please don't attempt to clean your jewelry using any of these methods.
Contrary to popular opinion, hydrogen peroxide is highly corrosive and can destroy porous gems. Consequently, Lemon juice, vinegar, and witch hazel have similar side effects and can cause jewelry to tarnish.
Meanwhile, baking soda and salt can be abrasive and create scratches that require professional polishing. Again, the best method of cleaning jewelry at home is a few drops of mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
Are Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners Safe?
Ultrasonic jewelry cleaners use sound waves to create vibrations that shake loose dirt and grime. Jewelry manufacturers generally use ultrasonic cleaners to remove debris and polishing rouge during manufacturing.
While ultrasonic cleaners are effective, the vibrations tend to loosen stones and damage the seats that hold stones in place. Consequently, your retail jeweler might swish your ring in the ultrasonic by hand to hasten the process, but usually not while it's running.
For those reasons, we don't recommend buying an ultrasonic cleaner for home use. Although they can be useful for cleaning jewelry without diamonds or gemstones that can vibrate loose. Remember, we only swish jewelry around by hand in ours and don't activate the mechanism if the setting contains stones.
How Often Should Your Ring Be Professionally Cleaned?
At-home jewelry cleaning methods are wonderful for keeping things shiny on the go, but we recommend bi-annual professional cleaning. First, a qualified jeweler can inspect the setting for loose stones and potential issues.
Secondly, they have specialized equipment that provides a deeper, more thorough cleaning, such as polishing the metal to restore its original luster.
A professional jeweler can also repair minor damage and tighten prongs to reduce the chance of stone loss. We highly recommend buying jewelry insurance from companies like BriteCo and registering your diamond with GEMTRACE™.
Remember, at-home cleaning can keep your diamond sparkling, but combining it with professional inspection is essential to the longevity and brilliance of your precious jewelry. Look at the difference in this four-year-old 18k white gold engagement ring before and after restoration by Brian Gavin.
The cleaning methods we recommend in this article are specific to diamond jewelry but suitable for durable gemstones like ruby and sapphire. It may not be suitable for softer porous gems, such as emeralds, opals, pearls, etc.; consult with a qualified jeweler on a case-by-case basis.
Most jewelers offer complimentary jewelry cleaning, especially if you purchased the ring from them. However, some jewelers charge between $25-50 for cleaning and inspection.
We recommend professional cleaning and inspection twice yearly, but you can clean jewelry at home weekly or bi-monthly.
Use a soft cotton or microfiber cloth when cleaning and polishing your engagement ring. Avoid harsh fabrics or paper towels that can create microabrasions in the metal.
We do not recommend buying an ultrasonic to clean diamond rings and jewelry at home because the vibration can loosen stones and cause damage to the settings.