Don’t spend to clean gems
Last reviewed: February 2011
Rings and other pieces worn close to the skin can lose their luster, so they need to be cleaned now and then. Plenty of products
claim to help—at up to $50 each. We tested how well three liquids and two ultrasonic cleaners worked on identical rings and
diver's watches soiled with synthetic sebum, hand lotion, and hair spray.
All products performed about the same: For hard-to-remove grunge, we needed to use a brush. In fact, we cleaned off all the
soils just as effectively with nothing but warm water and a soft toothbrush, and dried the jewelry with a facial tissue.
You don't need those products, so save the cost of a pair of earrings and follow these pearls of wisdom:
- Soak plain gold jewelry and pieces with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, or amber in mild dishwashing liquid
and warm water. (Use a bowl, not a sink.) Clean dirt from settings with a soft toothbrush. Dry with a soft chamois cloth.
- Buff pearls, opals, or turquoise with a soft, dry chamois. Never use water, which can damage them. Clean settings around opals
or turquoise with a soft, dry toothbrush. Apply any hair spray, makeup, or perfume before putting on pearls, whose color can
be changed by those products.
- Clean silver with silver polish or a little non-gel toothpaste. Apply it gently with a damp sponge, rinse, then buff with
a soft cloth.