How to clean jewelry at home

Items of jewelry can be some of our most precious possessions, whether wedding jewelry, items handed down from generations, or gifts. Here are a few ideas for keeping your jewelry sparkling.

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  • Items of jewelry can be some of our most precious possessions, whether wedding jewelry, items handed down from generations, or gifts. Here are a few ideas for keeping your jewelry sparkling.

  • Gold

  • Soak for a few minutes in warm soapy water, and brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse and buff with a soft cloth. To keep it looking good, avoid getting harsh cleaning chemicals on your gold, especially chlorine.

  • Silver

  • For removing tarnish, try this: line a pan or cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Sprinkle on a cup of salt, and a cup of baking soda. Pour in enough hot water to submerge the jewelry, and stir to mix, being careful not to tear the aluminum foil. Then add the jewelry. A chemical reaction between the aluminum, salt, and baking soda will instantly occur. Leave the items for a few minutes, then rinse and buff dry. (You can also use this method for other silver items such as silverware, as long as they are submergible.) Experts warn this method may not be first choice for heirloom silver, as a microscopic layer of silver is removed. You also would not choose it for silver that has a dark background for its design, as that dark background may be removed by this process.

  • You'll often hear toothpaste touted as a silver cleaner, but sterling silver is quite soft and can easily be scratched. Toothpaste may be too abrasive.

  • You can also try rubbing a cut lemon directly on tarnished silver, or soaking it in a lemon juice and water solution.

  • Pearls

  • Use a mild soap and water solution and buff dry. Don't leave a strand of pearls to soak as it could stretch and damage the string.

  • Another recommended cleaner is a small amount of Woolite mixed with water. Wipe with a soft cotton cloth and lay flat to dry. Don't store pearls in plastic, and avoid letting them jumble with other jewelry. The best way to keep pearls polished is to wear them regularly, thanks to your body’s natural oils.

  • Soft gems

  • Gemstones such as opals and turquoise should be cleaned with a gentle soap and water mixture without soaking. Prolonged exposure to water can damage them.

  • Diamonds

  • Use soap and water, or soak in a solution of 1 part ammonia to 4 parts water. Use a soft toothbrush to brush around the setting. Using toothpaste won't scratch diamonds, of course, but it may scratch the silver or gold in the setting around them.

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Margot Hovley is the author of the novels "Sudden Darkness" and "Glimmering Light." Her self-reliance blog is at mynewoldschool.com, and she blogs about her writing adventures at margothovley.com.

Website: http://www.margothovley.com

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