Everybody wears their jewelry in different ways. Some people are lucky enough to have a ton of it and cycle through their many favorites, so most of what they own doesn’t show much wear. Others have only a few pieces and wear them all the time, including to bed, in the shower and even during sexy time. Sorry, but this type of wear eventually causes stink vibrations to emanate off your jewelry that others can sense. Some women pride themselves on wearing a particular pendant every day. “I NEVER take this off”, she brags. Well, guess what? Every time you shower with that thing on, soapy skin-flaked water falls down on it and clogs up every prong, and dirt filled crusty layers coat the stone as if you were cultivating your own pearl...and I can see it from where I'm standing. I feel a Rosann Rosannadanna skit coming on to fully describe how gross it is to wear something constantly and never clean it. It’s OK to wear your favorites over and over again as long as you clean them from time to time… and here are some tips on what you need to buy to keep your baubles looking their best, and how to do it. It’s not hard, just invest in the following…
Polishing Cloth - a really good one. Not the little ones that come along with your jewelry purchase, they are worthless. You need an industrial strength polishing cloth, like the kind you would use to clean your silverware or your Grandmother’s antique sterling silver teapot. Sabrina Silver makes a good one and it’s available at Amazon for $6.99. This cloth is large (12” x 15”), and can be used on silver and gold and does a great job. It is double sided with the inside used for removing tarnish and dirt and the outside for polishing when you’re done. You can feel the abrasive material on the inside – that’s the side to use for the first cleaning. As you clean your jewelry, the cloth will turn black. This is not entirely your personal schoovatch coming off, but rather tarnish and oxidation as well. You can continue to use these cloths for a very long time (save your manicure and use rubber gloves while polishing). Do not wash the cloth. When you can’t feel the abrasive any longer it’s time to throw it away and buy a new one.
Dish Soap, Hot Water and Baby Toothbrush – if you have silver, gold, or silver and gold jewelry that has lost its shine because it’s picked up your body oils after a lot of wear, just make a mixture of liquid dish soap (I like Dawn because it cuts grease-even ours) and hot water. Dip your jewelry and let it soak for about 5-10 minutes and then use a soft baby toothbrush to clean in between any grooves. Place your soapy jewelry in a strainer and rinse under hot tap water. Pour the wet jewelry out on a few paper towels to air dry. After it’s dry, use your polishing cloth to finish it off. Your jewelry should sparkle and feel very clean. It’s good to do this a few times if you are wearing your jewelry a lot, especially during the summer. Body oils and creams, perspiration and perfume cling to the metals and form a film. If you wonder why you’re getting zits on the side of your face or on your chest, it’s probably because your earrings or pendants are dirty, so for God’s sake, clean them once in a while.
You can use this method to clean your diamond jewelry as well as your color stones. If your jewelry has a stone that is accessible and you can see the entire thing from the underside of your ring, you can actually use this process to clean it. Just use your little brush to clean under the stone and rinse as usual. Use a Q-tip to dry the underside of the stone. If your ring is closed underneath and you can’t see the stone, you may have to have it professionally refurbished. Check with the store where you purchased your jewelry to see if they provide this service.
Baby Shampoo - You can actually use a very mild shampoo (like baby shampoo) to clean very dirty pearls. Place your pearls in knee high pantyhose if you can find one anywhere (who wears them anymore?) Slowly swish your pearls back and forth through the sudsy water. Swish back and forth in clear water to rinse off the soap and lay them out on a few layers of paper towel to air dry. Check the silk thread used to string your pearls. If you see lots of space between the pearls, you may need to have them re-strung. Ask your local jeweler if they do this or if they can recommend someone who does. Remember to treat your pearls right – they should be the last thing you put on and the first thing you take off. Wipe them gently with a soft cotton cloth when you take them off each time and they won’t get so gross again. This is another good reason to rip your husband’s underwear off his body– they make the best rags.
FYI - I’m not a big fan of ultra-sonic cleaners in the hands of people that don't know what they can do. Ever since I witnessed an emerald disintegrate in one, I’m afraid of them. There isn’t much you can’t clean with a strong detergent, a mild detergent, hot water and a toothbrush, and this way, you won’t destroy any of your jewelry in the process.