Shine New Life Into Your Jewellery

While resetting a loose diamond is beyond the skill level of the average ring owner, periodic cleanings are not. Here’s how to keep your precious jewellery sparking.

Clean Gold With Dishwashing Liquid

Jewellers are like car dealers. They sell you necklaces, bracelets, and rings and hope you bring your pieces back for service, including cleaning. Gold may not tarnish like silver, but over time it develops a dull film from lotions, soaps, and the oils secreted by your skin. To revive the luster of gold jewellery, clean it regularly in a bowl of warm water mixed with a squirt of mild dishwashing liquid. After a brief soak, gently scrub the gold jewellery using a soft toothbrush. Rinse under warm running water (careful of the drain—to be safe, put it in a wire tea strainer).

Pat dry with a clean white cloth. For stubborn stains, mix equal parts cold water and ammonia. Soak the gold jewelery in the solution for half an hour. Scrub with a soft toothbrush. Rinse under cold water. Pat dry. Whatever you do, don’t clean with toothpaste, which contains silica, an abrasive found in quartz that can dull a glossy gold finish.

Wipe Pearls Often to Keep Them Clean

A pearl’s value is largely determined by color, luster, and the thickness of its fine coating, or nacre. Because pearls are highly sensitive to chemicals and salts, it’s important that you wipe down your pearls after you wear them, using a slightly moistened, very soft cloth such as chamois. This removes harmful substances such as perspiration, perfume, and makeup that can penetrate the pearls’ porous surface. (As a preventive measure, always apply perfume, makeup, and hair spray before you put on your pearls.)

To occasionally clean more thoroughly, use a mild bar soap such as Ivory and lukewarm water to create light suds. Dip your cloth in the suds and gently wipe the pearls. Rinse with clean water and dry on a soft cloth. Never soak pearls. And never hang them to dry, since that might stretch the string. Remove stubborn solids from their surface using your fingernail. Since your fingernail has a hardness of 2.5 or less on the Mohs’ scale, and pearls register from 2.5 to 4.5, you probably will not scratch them.

Skip the Polish When Cleaning Silver

It’s toxic and it smells bad. Instead, try this low-tech cleaning approach: Put a sheet of aluminum foil in a plastic or glass bowl and sprinkle with salt and baking soda. Fill the bowl with warm water and add the silver. The tarnish actually migrates to the foil, leaving your silver clean. Simply dry and buff.

Swish Away Unreachable Grunge

Okay, so you probably won’t toss your grandmother’s grungy old crystal decanter, but you may banish it to the top shelf, where it’s as good as gone. Same with that dirty, narrow-necked coffee carafe. Before you go shopping for new pieces to display in your home, try swishing a mixture of rock salt and vinegar around the inside of these containers. The salt will gently scour the surface while the vinegar will help remove stains, especially lime deposits. For wine stains, try swirling a small amount of warm water, baking soda, and rock salt. Or dissolve a denture-cleaning tablet in the vessel and let it stand overnight. The next morning, rinse with clean warm water.

Cleaning these narrow-necked objects is one thing, but drying them is another challenge. Instead of waiting forever for the thermos, vase, or decanter to dry in your dish rack, drain the water and use the following trick to remove the last of the moisture: Wrap a paper towel around the handle of a wooden spoon so that the towel extends slightly beyond the end. Stick the towel-wrapped spoon into the decanter and let it rest on the bottom overnight. By morning the towel should have absorbed most of the condensation.