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Extend the Life of Jewelry With Careful Cleaning

From inexpensive baubles to family heirlooms, jewelry reflects new trends and the cherished moments of a woman’s life. Careless treatment of any kind of jewelry, however, shortens its life, value and beauty. Careful cleaning of jewelry extends the wear and value of a collection.


Gemstones are a popular choice for jewelry aficionados because of their beauty. They are also some of the most durable choices for jewelry. Still, care and maintenance are important factors to maintaining their good looks and value. Some gemstones such as sapphires, rubies and other single-crystal gems can be cleaned with a precise mixture of ammonia and water to remove any film that may be present and to restore shine to the stone. Gentle soap and warm water may also provide a safe mixture to clean specific gemstones. If a piece of gemstone jewelry needs extra cleaning, it may be feasible to employ the use of a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone.

When it comes to ultrasonic cleaners, be very selective. Not all gemstones can be safely cleaned using this method. Opaque gemstones such as lapis lazuli, turquoise or malachite should never be cleaned with ammonia or an ultrasonic cleaner. These stones can absorb chemicals or soap, resulting in discoloration, due to the porous makeup of these gems. Instead, these gemstones should be wiped with a moist cloth.

To avoid scratching a gemstone or another softer stone near it, keep all jewelry separate from one another. Also, remember that gemstones are often harder than the metal it has been set it. Gems can scratch the finish on gold, silver or platinum.


The hardest substance known to man, diamonds, need special care as they are some of the most often-worn jewelry. Lotions, styling products, and the grime accrued from daily wear can leave a diamond looking dull and lifeless. Avoid waiting too long in between cleanings to decrease the buildup of adverse materials.

Diamonds may be hard but they should not be cleaned with just any cleaner available. For diamonds in need of a really good cleaning, a professional ultrasonic cleaning is often necessary to remove encrusted dirt. However, the method should not be used on fragile settings without having been inspected by your jeweler, as ultrasonic cleaners may shake loose stones from their mounting.

A safe and gentle method for cleaning diamonds starts with soaking the piece in a formula of three parts water to one part ammonia and a tiny drop of mild liquid detergent such as Ivory. Use a soft brush to remove dirt. Do not use a stiff bristled brush as this will scratch the ring’s metal setting. Rinse the diamond thoroughly in warm water and follow up with a lint-free cloth to dry the piece.

Store diamonds in a fabric-lined jewelry case or in a box with separate compartments. Diamonds may also be wrapped individually in tissue paper and stored in a box. Do not store diamonds with other jewelry in a drawer or jewelry case. This can result in scratching of other jewelry. Perhaps most importantly, avoid leaving a diamond ring on the rim of a sink where it may slip down the drain.


Pearls are more fragile than most other gemstones. They should be handled gently to keep them in the best condition. Most of today’s pearls are cultured pearls. That means they have been created by the initiation of humans who place a bead or other object into an oyster. The oyster then coats the bead with nacre, the patina that gives pearls their much-loved appearance. The thickness of nacre dictates the quality and durability of the pearl.

An excellent rule of thumb to maintain the beauty and value of your pearls is: your pearls should always be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off when dressing. To maintain the luster of a pearl, avoid applying hand creams or lotions while wearing a pearl. Also, put a pearl on after using hairspray, makeup or perfume. When cleaning a pearl, use mild soap mixed in warm water. Solutions such as ammonia or harsh detergents will damage a pearl, as can an ultrasonic cleaner.

Because pearls can scratch easily, store them separately from other pieces of jewelry. Pearls may also be kept in a soft bag made of chamois for safe storage. It’s a good idea to have pearl necklaces restrung from time to time to ensure the silk or nylon cord connecting them is in good shape.

Submitted by:

Ron Peterson

Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora bracelets, Pandora charms and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.