When it comes to cleaning jewellery of all sorts, you can never go wrong with a mild soap and soft, cotton cloth. But each metal has its own unique characteristics that respond well to different cleaning methods to bring out their best features!
As a soft metal, gold (especially at lower carats) is easily scratched, so you need to be gentle! Gold can also lose its shine if cleaned with the wrong cleaning technique.
Mix mild dishwashing solution with water and soak your jewellery in the solution for a few minutes. Take it out and rub gently with fingers or cotton pads- never tissue, as even the wood fibers in soft tissue paper can scratch gold. Stay away from coarse brushes and baking soda. To restore shine, use a gold polishing cloth which can buff away light scratches. If this doesn’t work, you’ll have to take it in to get it polished professionally.
Silver is prone to tarnish, a thin film of corrosion that forms when the outermost layer of silver reacts with chemical compounds in the environment. Tarnish gives silver a dull, darkened appearance.
Use a dedicated silver polishing cloth or paste that can remove tarnish, or try this science-backed method of soaking your jewellery in an aluminium foil-lined bowl filled with a hot water, salt, and baking soda solution.
While durable platinum does not lose its shine like gold or tarnish like silver, it can scratch with daily wear.
Clean regularly with mild soap, scrubbing gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Remove any platinum piece if you’re going near any harsh chemicals like bleach or other abrasives. Platinum can also develop a patina, which a natural subtle darkening as a result of the scratches accumulated from daily wear. This is often considered a desirable effect, but if you don’t like it, you can have scratches buffed away by a professional jeweller.
Costume jewellery is often made out of stainless steel, which is a great material for everyday wear as it does not rust or tarnish.
As a fairly robust material, you can clean it by gently wiping with warm water and soap. Just avoid soaking costume pieces for too long, as water and soap can dissolve the glue that affixes fake gemstones to the pieces.
A word of caution: These techniques shouldn’t be used on jewellery with stones. You should never soak or brush delicate, soft gemstones such as pearls, quartz or opal. To find out how to clean each different gemstone, check this chart.