July 08, 2024

Expert Tips on How to Clean an Engagement Ring or Fine Jewellery

You want your ring or fine jewellery item, such as an engagement or wedding ring, to last as long as the union it represents. Cleaning and maintaining your precious jewellery is therefore essential in order to preserve its beauty and longevity. 

In this article, we will offer some expert tips on how to clean your engagement ring or fine jewellery item to keep them in sparkling condition.

Why cleaning your jewellery matters

It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about keeping your wedding or bespoke engagement ring in pristine condition for as long as possible, but cleaning regularly and in the right way can be crucial in its upkeep. It’s important for several reasons, the first of which is to maintain its radiance. Everyday wear can lead to the buildup of dirt, oils, and other residues that dull the brilliance of your gemstones and metals. Over time, this buildup and environmental elements can not only dull but even damage your jewellery’s integrity. Hygiene is also an important factor, because removing dirt and grime can prevent skin irritations or other unwanted health issues.

How to clean jewellery effectively

Gentle cleaning solutions at home

The good news is that you can easily and safely do this at home with surprisingly simple methods. Diamonds and gemstones are very attracted to grease, so the oils that your skin produces build up over time on the back of your jewellery. For the best results, we recommend that you do this every few months in between annual professional cleanings. For most jewellery with hard, non-porous gemstones all you need for a homemade cleaner is simply good old eco-friendly dishwashing liquid and warm water. 

Steps for general cleaning
  1. Soak: Place your fine jewellery in the solution and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Brush: Use a soft-bristle brush (like a baby toothbrush) to gently scrub the jewellery, paying attention to crevices where dirt tends to accumulate.
  3. Rinse: Use clean, warm water to rinse your item.
  4. Dry: Pat dry with a lint-free cloth to avoid any fibres snagging on your jewellery.
Ultrasonic cleaners

For a deeper clean, ultrasonic cleaners can be used, but with caution. Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency sound waves to create bubbles within a cleaning liquid. When these bubbles collapse, they can cleanly remove debris, dirt, grease, and other deposits. We do not recommend that you use an ultrasonic cleaner on antique or particularly delicate or fragile pieces, as it can loosen stones and settings. It’s always better to first consult with a professional jeweller. You can also ask a jeweller about more modern pieces, to ensure it is safe to use.

Essential cleaning supplies

To be safe and also clean your jewellery effectively, you will need the following:

  • Soft-bristle brushes: A clean, soft brush like a baby’s toothbrush is ideal for gentle scrubbing.
  • Lint-free cloths: This is important to prevent fibres from sticking to your jewellery.
  • Bowls or containers: For soaking and cleaning your jewellery, always use a suitably sized container and avoid cleaning over an open sink to prevent accidents.
  • Ventilated workspace: When using silver cleaning products from a local supermarket always do so in a well-ventilated area, as they can contain harsh chemicals. It’s also important to only use this solution on solid silver pieces with no gemstones.
Using the right technique

As with the cleaning materials, using the right technique is crucial. Different types of jewellery and gemstones require specific cleaning techniques to ensure they are cleaned safely and effectively.

Diamond jewellery

  • Soak and brush: Soak in warm water with mild dish soap, then gently brush to and fro and rinse.
  • Avoid harsh chemicals: While diamonds are durable, harsh chemicals can damage the metal it is set in.

Coloured stone jewellery

  • Emeralds, Tanzanite and Opals: These should never be placed in ultrasonic cleaners. Clean them gently with mild soap and water.
  • Rubies and Sapphires: Generally stable and can be cleaned with warm water and dish soap.
  • Pearls and other organic gems: Use a soft, lint-free cloth with a very mild soap solution. Avoid soaking or harsh chemicals.

Gold jewellery

  • Warm water and dish soap: Use this simple solution to clean gold jewellery. Avoid abrasive cleaners that can scratch the gold surface.
  • Chlorine caution: Remove gold jewellery before swimming or using a hot tub, as chlorine can discolour and damage gold.
  • Avoid toothpaste: This is sometimes mentioned as a good material to clean, but you should never use toothpaste to clean gold, especially softer high-carat gold like 18ct, as it can cause damage.
  • Remove during cleaning tasks: Take off your gold jewellery when using cleaning products to prevent damage from harsh chemicals and make the process easier..

Silver jewellery

Have you ever noticed that your silver jewellery becomes blackened when you leave it in a jewellery box for a while? This is because silver oxidises in the air and the buildup is called tarnish. To remove this, an environmentally friendly option for solid silver pieces is using baking soda to create a paste using a small amount of water. Then, with a very soft toothbrush, gently agitate away the tarnish, and rinse and dry thoroughly afterwards. You can also get specialised silver cleaning cloths online to help with this. The best way of keeping your silver clean is simply to put it in a sealed bag when not wearing it to prevent air from getting to it.

Earrings

Especially with earrings, hygiene is very important. Use an alcohol swab with a minimal amount of alcohol to clean earring hooks between wears. For the earrings themselves, use a soft toothbrush and warm water to gently remove any dirt or residue. Dry with a soft cloth.

How to Clean an Engagement Ring to Maximise Radiance

Caring for your diamond engagement ring

To keep your classic diamond engagement ring sparkling, soak it in warm (but not boiling) water with mild soap for about 10 to 20 minutes. If it’s really dirty, it may need to go for a bit longer. Then, using a soft brush (again, a baby’s toothbrush is great), gently agitate the dirt away in small motions. Rinse it in clean, warm water and dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth to avoid the piece snagging. While diamonds are resilient, the metalwork settings can be affected by acidic cleaners.

Between deep cleanings, there are a few things you can do to keep diamond rings sparkling: 

  • Regularly rinse your ring under warm water to remove everyday dust and oils and help maintain its shine. 
  • Use a lint-free cloth to gently wipe your ring after wearing it. This also helps remove any surface oils or residues.
  • Remove your ring when applying hand lotions or creams, or try to avoid getting it on the ring, as these can leave a film on the diamond, dulling its sparkle.
  • When not wearing your ring, store it in a clean, dry place. Use a soft pouch or the original jewellery box to protect it from dust and damage.
  • Schedule regular professional cleanings and inspections to ensure your ring remains in excellent condition. This helps catch any potential issues early, such as loose settings

Nurturing Coloured Stone Engagement Rings

Each gemstone has unique cleaning needs, so it’s vital that you take note when cleaning your ruby, sapphire or emerald engagement ring.

Emeralds: They are routinely “oiled”, meaning an oil is applied to the cut gemstone to penetrate to any surface reaching inclusions which helps improve its clarity. Do not use harsh cleaners or an ultrasonic cleaner, as this can cause the oil to come off. Always use mild soap and warm water.
Rubies and Sapphires: They are generally quite stable, so clean with warm water and eco-friendly dish soap.

Pearls: If especially dirty, only use a very small amount of dishwashing liquid and slightly warm water to clean gently with a soft cloth. Otherwise, use only a soft linen-free cloth and avoid soaking and any harsh chemicals. Pearls should be taken off first and the last item to put on. Over time, perfume sprayed on pearls will damage them, so the best advice is to let perfume dry and then put on pearls.

Tanzanite and other soft gems: Use mild soap and water, and avoid ultrasonic cleaners so they don’t crack.

Opals: These are porous gemstones which can actually dehydrate and dry out over time. It is always best to use mild soap and warm water with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush.

Turquoise: Known to be very porous and not very stable, so it is often waxed or stabilised with resin and cleaning should be approached with care

As always with precious jewellery, if you are unsure of what the gemstone is or how to care for it, the jeweller who created it is the best place to go for advice.

The only thing worse than a ring that has lost its lustre is a ring that's damaged due to improper care. Never use bleach, chlorine, acetone, toothpaste, or baking soda. While diamonds are durable, these substances can damage the band, prongs, or softer gemstones.
 

Tips for getting your diamond engagement ring professionally cleaned

While regular at-home cleanings are needed and recommended, they are not a complete replacement for professional upkeep. Ideally, you should schedule a visit to a jeweller at least once per year to maintain your ring’s sparkle and integrity. Jewellers use professional, specialised tools and techniques and have the expertise to clean your ring without causing damage. On top of this, many specialists offer free cleanings, especially if you bought the ring or jewellery from them. Professional jewellers also know what to look out for when checking for loose stones and other potential future issues. 

It’s always best to choose someone experienced for your engagement ring cleaning and who you can see for an in-person consultation, which is why we at Blackacre offer a wealth of knowledge and dedicated, personal service for your beloved engagement ring.

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