Jewelry Care 101: Cleaning, Storing, and Loving Your Gems

The beauty of jewelry doesn’t lie only within its appearance but within the meaning it holds for each person. And since we believe both are equally worth protecting, we’ve created a guide designed to show you how to clean your jewelry at home.

Within this guide, you’ll learn what to clean jewelry with, how to properly clean fine metals and gems, what to avoid letting your jewelry come in contact with, as well as some ideas for storing jewelry so you can maintain and extend the life of your jewelry.

Polishing Cloths

While it’s tempting to use any soft cloth you have around the house, we recommend using only specific polishing cloths intended especially for your specific type of jewelry. This is because the materials used in jewelry cleaning cloths correspond to the different metals and gems. For example, cloths used for 14k gold and sterling silver are typically rougher, helping to restore brilliance and prevent tarnishing. But even this slightly rough texture can damage certain materials.

For cleaning gold-plated jewelry, choose a softer polishing cloth. The smoother texture of polishing will help protect the delicate layers of gold.

For cleaning gemstones, look for an extremely soft, lint-free cloth made with natural materials to avoid scratching or damaging the surface of precious and semi-precious stones.

Cleaners & Solutions

For the most part, fine metals, gemstones, and other natural materials, like shells, can be cleaned at home using a simple solution of water and a mild soap. Chemical cleaners are best left for use by professionals.

How To Clean 14k Fine Gold Jewelry

Solid gold jewelry is great for everyday wear since it’s generally quite durable and does not tarnish. But keep in mind that most fine metals are delicate to a certain degree and susceptible to scratching or denting. That said, 14k fine gold jewelry should be cleaned in a non-abrasive dish using a gentle solution of lukewarm water and a mild soap (natural dish soap works well). Allow your jewelry to soak in the solution for a few minutes before taking it out and rubbing it with a polishing cloth until all debris are removed and its luster is restored. For tougher residues, especially those around the settings, use a small brush with a soft bristle to clean. Then return to the cleaning solution for a short soak and let air dry on a soft surface.

How To Clean Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold plated jewelry requires a little bit more care when cleaning since the thin layers of gold are extremely delicate. The best way to clean gold plated jewelry is using a dry method. Using a dry polishing cloth, gently rub the surface until the surface is shiny. Take extra care not to rub too hard. A lukewarm water and mild soap solution can be used from time to time for stubborn residue. Keep in mind that the gold plating will inevitably wear over time. Proper wear, cleaning, and storage will prolong the life of your gold plated jewelry.

How To Clean Sterling Silver Jewelry

Sterling silver jewelry can handle a little bit more of a rough polish, and it’s a good thing since this metal tends to tarnish. Using the method outlined above for cleaning 14k gold should be sufficient but stubborn debris or tarnish can usually be resolved using a solution easily made with products most people have at home.

How To Clean Gemstones

Diamonds and gemstones are primarily composed of minerals and, depending on the exact type, they can be extremely delicate and susceptible to scratching. To avoid damaging your gemstone jewelry during the cleaning process, they should be cleaned in a dish of mild soap and water, using a polishing cloth for any light rubbing. Avoid using a sponge or anything that could abrade the surface of the stone. Note that certain gemstones tend to naturally change appearance over time, including matte stones—like those found in some of our favorite turquoise earring designs—that can take on a more satin-like finish.

How To Clean Pearls

Pearls are made from delicate layers of nacre—a material made by some mollusks that coats the inner layer of their shells. This material is also known as mother of pearl and although relatively strong and resilient, pearls themselves require a certain degree of care when cleaning them. Using a lukewarm water and mild soap solution, rub your pearl jewelry with a polishing cloth designed for cleaning pearls, taking care not to drop them to avoid shattering or cracking.

How To Clean Sterling Silver And Turquoise Jewelry

Sterling silver and turquoise is a popular combination found in jewelry designs. But knowing how to clean them can be perplexing for some since the two materials require different care. If a given piece is designed in a way that the materials are separated, you can clean each with the methods outlined in this article. If they are placed together, like in our Amalfi Charm Necklace, using a dry polishing cloth to clean each element is the best bet to avoid damaging either.

How To Clean Leather

Unlike fine metals and gemstones, leather tends to look and feel better with wear, creating a buttery texture over time. Still, it requires cleaning from time to time to keep it from forming a layer of residue. A damp cloth with a small amount of mild soap can be used to gently dab the surface clean. Because many Chan Luu leather designs, like our best-selling signature wrap bracelets, are weaved with gemstones, we recommend avoiding any leather cleaning solutions that could damage the stones.

How Often To Clean Jewelry

There are several variables to consider when determining how often any given piece of jewelry should be cleaned. Is it made from a solid metal versus plated? Do you wear it daily? How is it stored?

Jewelry that is worn more often (think necklaces versus earrings) should be cleaned weekly, keeping the materials in mind. A good rule of thumb is to clean your jewelry monthly to prevent the accumulation of residues or hard-to-clean tarnish.

Jewelry boxes

How To Store Jewelry

Jewelry should be stored in a dark, dry environment when not in use. Jewelry boxes and cases aren’t just decorative, instead, they provide this ideal environment while also offering a soft surface to rest your jewelry within; usually silk, rayon, polishing, or velveteen (made from cotton).

Avoid exposing your jewelry to too much direct sunlight or wet environments; for instance, next to the bathroom sink.

Jewelry should always be separated when stored so that no pieces are touching. A jewelry tray is the perfect solution to keeping items separate. This will not only avoid scratching and mixing of elements but it will also avoid tangling. If you have ever tried to untangle a delicate chain, you know it can be nearly impossible and cause irreparable damage or breakage.

What To Avoid While Wearing Jewelry

Although we believe in day-after-day wear of your favorite pieces, it’s important to keep a few things in mind—even for your never-take-off pieces—in order to prolong their life. Do your best to prevent your jewelry from coming in contact with perfumes, lotions, and creams. Avoid strong light; both artificial and sunlight. And never wear your jewelry while bathing, showering, swimming, or near any water—even lounging near a pool or at the beach can expose your jewelry to damaging chemicals and natural elements like salt.

We understand that jewelry is made to be enjoyed and that wear is inevitable. Should your jewelry require a little more attention, our Repairs team can help restore your piece to its original shine. Email and our team will be glad to assist you.