Whether you're a lover of dainty, delicate jewels or chunky statement pieces, it's important to know the right way to take care of our jewellery in order to keep them sparkling. Every now and again, our rings, necklaces, bracelets and earrings need a spring clean - think of it as a maintenance check.
Caitlin Mociun, founder of dreamy fine jewellery brand Mociun and Laura Lombardi, founder of fashion's favourite chunky chains label Laura Lombardi, have shared their wisdom on how to take care of our most treasured pieces in our jewellery box.
How often should you clean an engagement ring?
"It depends on your ring and how often or hard you wear it," Mociun tells me. "I personally home clean once a month and use a professional service every six months," she explains.
"There are certain diamond cuts - table cuts for example - that look dirtier faster, so clean those pieces more often," she adds and recommends cleaning these types of rings every two weeks.
What's the best way to look after metal?
"There are certain types of plating that can be affected, so that is one of the things to watch out for," Mociun warns.
"Platinum, yellow or rose gold are rarely going to have any plating on them. White gold is often plated with rhodium to mimic platinum, and this does come off over time, so the more it's cleaned and worn, the more often it may need to be re-plated," she says.
"Keep jewellery out of water and moisture to prevent staining. Limit exposure to humid environments if you wish to prevent oxidation," advises Lombardi.
"Direct contact with cosmetics, perfume, lotions and aerosols may accelerate the development of patina."
Patina: Discolouration or change in lustre of brass, produced by oxidation: the darkening of metal with exposure to the body’s own PH, oxygen, and other compounds.
“Store your jewellery in a secure and dry place in-between wears. Remove and store jewellery before exercising, swimming, showering or sleeping," says Lombardi.
How can I check for loose stones?
Checking for loose stones at home is easy. All you need is a safety pin, to use gently on each stone to check how secure it's set. "If your stone isn't a diamond, and is a gemstone that's softer, you have to take even more strict precautions," Mociun advises.
How to properly clean your rings
You will need an empty bowl, a second bowl filled with lukewarm water, a gentle cloth, a soft baby toothbrush and a foaming jewellery cleaner and ensure that it's gentle enough to clean delicate and porous gemstones, like turquoise, pearls and most opals.
Put your pieces to be cleaned in the empty bowl. Apply one to two pumps of cleaner for rings, two-plus pumps for chains and necklaces. Let this soak for 20 seconds.
Brush around the inside of the ring and very gently clean the back of an open setting. For medium to heavy chains, start by scrubbing the closure and then drag the chain through the bristles. For delicate chains, lay in your hand and gently brush or use your fingers to rub in the solution.
Place soapy jewellery in the bowl of lukewarm water. Rinse twice to remove soap completely and dry off with the gentle cloth.
If you'd rather use a homemade cleanser, Lombardi highlights how you can use common household products you'll likely have in your cupboard already. "Mix juice of half a lemon and a teaspoon of baking soda together to form a paste. Apply to jewellery and rub in one direction with a cloth. Repeat until clear, wipe off paste, rinse and pat dry," she says.
With chunkier pieces, the best way to maintain them is to regularly clean using a jewellery polishing cloth. “Wipe down quickly after each wear to maintain appearance, or polish vigorously to remove accumulated patina,” says Lombardi.
You can also opt for some handy tools to help with keeping on top of your jewellery care. "My personal favourite tools for cleaning jewellery are polishing pads and an ultrasonic tool," she notes.
"The pads are absolute magic for removing stubborn stains or patina from raw brass jewellery. Use as needed to maintain the appearance, which may be more often in summer months as humidity and exposure to products like sunscreen may expedite tarnishing. It's important to keep polishing pads away from gold or silver plated items, as the cleaning compounds in the pads will cause plating to wear off."
"An ultrasonic is perfect for easily cleaning all jewellery. It gently cleans, restores shine and removes built up product, debris, or tarnish. I recommend ample drying time when using this to clean hollow items like our hoop earrings," says Lombardi.
The do's and don'ts of at-home care
- Do clean your ring at least once a month with a cleaner that's safe for the stones in your ring.
- Do check to see if your stones are still secure in their settings after it's cleaned.
- Do your cleaning over a cloth or bowl of water in case a stone does fall out - you don't want it going down the drain.
- Don't use an abrasive cleaner, especially toothpaste or anything gritty. Never use bleach, chlorine or ammonia. Basically, don't clean your jewellery with things that you use to clean your bathroom or kitchen with.
- Don't keep wearing your jewellery if you have a loose stone - it will just get worse with time and then you'll likely lose the stone. Take it to your jeweller as soon as possible to get tightened.
- Don't let it go too long without being cleaned. When there is too much build up of dirt, sometimes it can require un-mounting the stone to clean it properly and that can cause damage.
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