STYLE

How To Clean Your Jewellery, According To The Experts

Put the bling back in your ring.

05/10/2017 10:37 AM AEDT | Updated 05/10/2017 10:49 AM AEDT
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We're betting those chandeliers get pretty dusty.

If you're lucky enough to own some quality jewellery, you'll also know things like soap and dirt can take the shine off even the sparkliest items fairly quickly, particularly if you wear them every day.

It can be confusing because even the most seemingly innocent practices, like washing your hands, for example, can contribute to dirt adding up over time.

"Generally when people go about their day-to-day activities, they will be their getting hands wet quite a lot, which people often think is cleaning their ring," gemmologist and jeweller Matthew Ely told HuffPost Australia.

"But what actually happens then is the water sits behind the gemstone and can attract dust, which over time, can form a kind of cloud behind the ring."

The same thing goes for jewellery worn in the shower, particular if you leave your earrings in while washing your hair.

"As much as you rinse out your hair, you're still going to have soap sit behind the earring," Ely said. "If you were to take them out before you shower, they would stay cleaner longer."

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So how do we keep our jewellery clean?

Diamonds and gold

"This technique is only to be done on diamonds or precious metals, and by precious metals I mean platinum or a high carat gold," Ely said. "Don't do this on silver as you can discolour the metal. I also wouldn't do this with your coloured gemstones.

"What you need is some warm water, a splash of detergent and ammonia and really soft toothbrush, and to give it a bit of a scrub. I would use warm water in a clean bowl -- don't risk the sink.

"Then, before you put it back on, you want it to dry completely -- you can even use a hairdryer. Once it's completely dry it will be as fresh as it can be."

Silver

While a very popular metal, silver can easily turn an oxidised-type colour if it comes into contact with perfumes or hand creams. According to Ely, some people even have acid-rich skin which can contribute to discolouration.

"To clean silver, you can get silver cleaners and a silver polish cloth, though it depends on the level of tarnish you have," Ely said.

"Silver cleaners will take off the tarnish, but it's important not to leave those pieces of jewellery in the cleaner longer than directed, or it will continue to eat at the silver and create a smoky haze. And once that happens you would need a complete professional polish -- you wouldn't be able to fix that yourself."

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Diamonds are pretty robust, but not all stones are created equal.

Pearls

Unsurprisingly, natural pearls need to be treated with care, and shouldn't be put into any kind of chemical solutions.

"Because pearls are organic material that come from a living organism, they are extremely sensitive on their surface but at the same time will have longevity if they are treated properly," Ely said.

"The best rule is don't put anything on your pearls you wouldn't put on your eye. So if you are about to go out for your evening, your pearls should be the last thing you put on before you leave and the first thing you take off when you return.

"Pearls that aren't taken care of can go creamy and not look as crisp as they did when you first purchased them. That type of deterioration is something you won't notice quickly, but will develop over a number of years. You need to make sure you care for them appropriately because they are so precious and organic."

Emeralds

Like pearls, emeralds don't like chemicals.

"A good 90 percent or so of emeralds have minor oiling, [a process by which a jeweller will] use oil to keep the stone both hydrated and also fill some of the inclusions so the stone presents more beautifully," Ely said.

"It's a widely accepted practice done to a lot of emeralds.

"Now, if you put chemicals on an emerald, the oil will be removed, and that can make the emerald look pretty horrible pretty quickly depending on the quality. My advice would be to have your emeralds only cleaned by professionals -- and not just by any store -- but by a store that sells emeralds of an equivalent quality to your own."

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Emeralds don't like chemicals.

Sapphires and rubies

"Sapphires and rubies are pretty robust and can be treated much like a diamond," Ely said. "In saying that, you need to care for them slightly more as their hardness is not anywhere near as hard as a diamond, and people can easily graze the top of them.

"What I don't think many people realise is a gemstone can be brought back to life by repolishing -- it transforms the ring into being a new ring again.

"Some people will wear their sapphires every day -- particularly recently, a lot of people are getting alternate stones as engagement rings -- so it's just good to know as a maintenance thing.

"One last thing I would say is it is okay to take your jewellery off, so if you go to the gym or are moving house, it's okay to put your rings in a safe space.

"I mean of course there will always be people who say 'I'm never taking my jewellery off' and that's completely fine -- they just need to be aware they might need more servicing over time."

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