Sometimes you plan an entire outfit around your jewelry and, other times, it’s a last-minute style decision as you’re running out the door. But regardless of whether your jewelry is a centerpiece or a subtler accent, the last thing you want is for your accessories to be dull and grimy from exposure to dirt, moisture and residue-depositing soaps and body lotions. The best jewelry cleaners will restore your most precious pieces to all their sparkly, glittery glory in just a few minutes.
The best jewelry cleaners restore sparkle to your precious pieces quickly, and without damage. Commercial Vacuum Packer
If you’ve got silver earrings that needs sprucing, an emerald necklace that needs some attention or a wedding ring you want to glitter like a disco ball, there are all sorts of easy-to-use-at-home cleaners that don’t require a special trip to the jeweler. We consulted jewelry experts, and it turns out, they use many of these DIY options themselves. Here are the best jewelry cleaners for precious metals and gems.
Type of Cleaner: Liquid | Used For: gold, platinum, diamonds and precious stones
Liquid cleaners are some of the most versatile and easy to use, and this inexpensive one works for a variety of jewelry. It comes with a dip basket where you can set your pieces to dunk them in the solution, and it has a brush to gently scrub away dirt and grime. “This has been around for a very long time,” says gemologist and jewelry designer Ashley Fox. “This cleaner is consistent and always delivers.” It’s also free of phosphates, butyls, ammonia and bleach, so it’s considered safe for porous stones, such as pearls, although they shouldn’t be left in the solution for more than 10 minutes.
Type of Cleaner: Sonic | Used For: Diamonds and other hard gems
Think of this like a gentle electric toothbrush for precision maintaining precious treasures. “I love the Juli Brush for cleaning diamond jewelry,” says gemologist and jewelry designer Ali Galgano, owner of Serpentine Jewels. “It's a sonic-brush cleaning system that will make your diamonds look brand new. The Juli comes with a few different attachments, including a toothpick-like brush that allows you to target those tough-to-reach areas, like the underside of the diamond.” It works by delivering 500+ micro strokes per second, and is great for cleaning between closely set diamonds and sweeping dirt from pavé stones. While it’s an investment, the Juli works not just for diamonds, but for other hard gems like rubies, sapphires, zirconia and lab-grown diamonds as well.
Type of Cleaner: Cream | Used For: Silver, chrome, pewter, porcelain
This ammonia-free cream cleans, shines and restores without scratching. “Silver polish is like a fine mud that’s similar to toothpaste in consistency,” says jewelry designer and silversmith Nina Brogna. “Wright’s is a great, old-school, cream-based silver polish. It’s a slightly abrasive cream that you simply rub on with a cotton cloth.” After cleaning, Brogna suggests rinsing jewelry with hot water and always drying with a cotton cloth since paper towel can cause scratches. Users particularly love that this cream doesn’t have a strong odor like some other silver cleaners, and it doesn’t require a lot of rubbing to remove tarnish.
Type of Cleaner: Liquid | Used For: Gold, platinum, diamonds, gemstones, pearls and fashion jewelry
While you may wear some gemstones only for special occasions, there are likely several pieces—like an engagement ring or simple pair of studs—that you barely take off. And all that environmental exposure means your gorgeous jewelry is likely caked in dirt, oils, and lotion or sunscreen from day-to-day wear. With this formula, you apply the dirt-lifting foam directly to jewelry and let it sit for 30-60 seconds, then gently brush away extra grime if necessary (brush not included), and lastly, you rinse with water. Reviewers love that it’s easy to use and makes jewelry sparkle—fast. An additional perk is that this formula is biodegradeable and non-toxic. Users note, however, that the bottle can leak if tipped onto its side so it may not be good for travel.
Type of Cleaner: Wipe | Used For: All metals and gemstones
Originally created by a bride determined to keep her engagement ring sparkling, Shinery’s easy-to-use and convenient towelettes are ideal for travel or when you need to clean jewelry quickly. These plant-based, non-toxic and fragrance-free wipes are easy to stash in your carry-on or handbag (they come as a pack of 10) to remove dirt, beauty-product buildup, surface oils and other residue instantly. Even better, they dry fast without requiring rinsing and won’t leave behind a residue. The towelettes are safe for all metals and gemstones and reviewers love that there’s no funky odor (some say it doesn’t fully remove tarnish from silver, though).
Type of Cleaner: Ultrasonic | Used For: Metals and hard, non-porous gemstones
Many jewelers love ultrasonic cleaners for hard-to-reach nooks and crannies that are difficult to access with a cloth or brush. Ultrasonic cleaners work by using high frequency sound waves to create micro-bubbles that repeatedly form and burst to scrub and slough debris—like dirt and oil—off of your jewelry. This popular ultrasonic cleaner has five preset time intervals (from a minute and a half to eight minutes) for cleaning. You can use with water or add a special, jewelry-safe solvent. Just note: Los Angeles-based gemologist and jewelry designer Daria de Koning cautions against using ultrasonic cleaners on porous stones, such as emeralds opals or pearls. Also, “ultrasonic cleaners work well but they can also loosen diamonds which are set in pave,” adds Fox.
Type of Cleaner: Liquid | Used For: Precious metals, diamonds, gemstones and porous stones
Meet the newest shining star of your jewelry cleaning arsenal. For under $20, you can clean and restore your jewels from home—and save yourself the hassle of a trip to your jeweler. To gently restore rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings to a “like new” state, this biodegradeable cleaner comes with a handy jewelry basket to dip jewelry into the cleaning solution and a brush to scrub off grit and grime. Bear in mind, though, that the jewelry basket isn’t big enough to hold things like large cuffs or bangles, and reviewers say this won’t get the tarnish off silver.
Type of Cleaner: Cloth | Used For: Gold, silver, platinum
This tarnish remover cloth will restore brilliance to precious metals and prevent new tarnish from forming quickly, so it’s perfect for everything from a killer set of gold bangles to a chunky silver cuff. The large 11 x 14-inch cloth features a two-step system—a white cloth has cleaning ingredients on it, while the grey flannel cloth is intended to buff after polishing. “Polishing cloths are great for travel, and they’re simple and easy to use,” says Brogna. “They also don’t leave a lot of debris behind, which is nice.”
Formulation And Method: Jewelry cleaners come in various formulations. They may come in the form of a gel, liquid, foam or cream, or they may be an ultrasonic cleaner, cloth or wipe.
Ingredients: When choosing a jewelry cleaner, be mindful of exactly what the cleaner will be used for. Some cleaners are specific to certain metals, like silver, and others are safest for certain gemstones. If your piece is a mix of a metal and gemstone, be sure to check that the cleaner is safe for both prior to use.
Common ingredients that can be polarizing in jewelry cleaners include phthalates, parabens, sulfates and fragrance because they can be absorbed through the skin or may cause irritation. “Many cleaners can be damaging as they’re full of chemicals,” say Los Angeles-based gemologist and jewelry designer Daria de Koning. For instance, ammonia can cause damage to porous gemstones or clarity-enhanced diamonds so it should be used with caution.
Silver cleaners are made up of ingredients including aluminum silicate (an abrasive clay mineral), sodium carbonate (for removing silver sulfide tarnish and returning a piece back to shiny silver) and propylene glycol (for retaining moisture and preventing tarnish).
Ease Of Use: Another factor to consider is the time investment involved in cleaning jewelry as well as the potential for mess. When choosing a cleaner, look not only for what will be safest for you and your jewelry, but also for what has a low likelihood for spillage and won’t require a chemistry lesson or elaborate setup on our countertop. In general, jewelry cleaning liquids that come with dip baskets and mini brushes are convenient, as are polishing mitts, cloths and wipes.
Certain metals, such as silver, may require more of a time investment because of their tendency to tarnish quickly. Similarly, some stones are more laborious to clean. Specifically, pavé set stones tend to hang onto dirt, and you might need to invest more time to get in between the tight spaces of a prong or channel-set stones, like those found in an eternity band.
For the most part, you should clean jewelry whenever it’s lost its luster. For pieces you wear regularly, such as a wedding band or everyday studs, you might want to clean them every week. “Diamonds are like magnets—they attract dirt,” says de Koning. “So it’s best to wash diamond jewelry frequently.” If you want to be sure your jewels are reaching their shine potential as well as check for loose stones or faulty settings, take a trip to a jeweler. Galgano says it’s good practice to “bring your pieces to a jeweler for a professional cleaning every six months,” even if you’re cleaning at home.
“Always spray perfume, sunscreen or bug spray on before putting on jewelry,” says Brogna. “If your jewelry is gold filled or gold plated, the ingredients in those sprays can damage it,” she says. “Pearls and opals are especially soft and fragile, so they should be cleaned as little as possible and only professionally,” says Galgano. Fox cautions against wearing perfume or hairspray with pearls because it ruins pearl nacre, the iridescent material made of calcium carbonate. Also, be careful using jewelry cleaners on more porous, natural stones—like turquoise or coral—says Fox, because organic stones are more likely to be damaged by harsh ingredients.
Most experts recommend rinsing a piece of jewelry with water after cleaning simply to remove any excess cleaning solution or cream so it doesn’t irritate your skin. Also, some silver cleaners have an odor that you may be sensitive to.
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