CLEANING JEWELLERY May 01 2015



Today’s blog is about cleaning your jewellery. Not being an expert in this field I thought I should talk to someone who is....

Andrew Waugh of The Garden Workshop has been making the highest quality jewellery in Hatton Garden, the centre of the UK jewellery trade, for over 30 years, and kindly offered his advice.

The best thing to do, he said, is to take it to a jeweller! If you don’t know what you’re doing you might come a cropper.

 That’s not always practicable though, so here are his tips if you’re going to give it a go yourself.

  • For metal jewellery without stones, silver, gold, platinum etc, which tends not to get dirty but discoloured, the quickest way is to use Silver Dip, which is fine for all of them. Just dip the piece into the solution and out again, then, importantly, rinse very thoroughly in cold water. Dry and polish with a clean soft cloth. Remember that all metals gradually lose their sheen through wear and tear, and you’ll need a professional to bring it back to its original high polish.

  • For jewellery with gemstones. Gemstones can easily become tired and dull-looking, usually from cosmetics and soap residue becoming trapped in the back of settings. For most gemstones (but please note the exceptions below) put some hot water in a small bowl with a little washing up liquid. Leave it to soak, and when it’s cool take a toothbrush and clean the back of the setting with a jabbing motion to loosen any dirt. Rinse with cold water and dry with kitchen towel. They’ll be sparkling.

  • Some important exceptions are emeralds, and opals, pearls, coral, turquoise - porous minerals - these can be ruined if put in hot water. You can still clean them in the same way but use warm water.

  • Whatever you do, never move a stone from hot or warm to cold very quickly, they can crack like glass, even diamonds! Even though they’re the hardest gemstone on earth, they’re still not very tough.

You can also get yourself an ultrasonic cleaner – a clever device that uses sound waves and water, sometimes with a cleaning solvent, and after just a few minutes you take your jewellery out, dry it off, and it does a decent job. It’s great for metals, but again you must be careful about which gems you put in it.

Above all you should insure your jewellery to cover any mishaps.

And if in doubt, take it to a professional who can do it properly and put the life back into your treasures.