How to Clean Your Jewelry: The Definitive Guide and Review

Ever wonder about the best way to make your diamonds dazzle, scrub your sapphire, or polish your pearls? Read on…

An Ounce of Prevention

First of all, you should try to limit the amount of dirt that your jewelry comes into contact with in the first place. I know that people think that fine jewelry equals forever, but there is a big difference between “enduring” and “indestructible”. Dirt and chemicals from everyday wear will break down precious metals and gems eventually. Please don’t wear your jewelry 24/7. Take it off, make a safe, scratch-free nest for it somewhere, and put it on when you leave the house. Think about your nicest designer article of clothing that you would wear during the day. Would you wear it while scrubbing a pot or rolling out dough? Would you wear that lifting weights or in the garden? Think about your jewelry being about the same level of tolerance for wear and tear as a fine piece of clothing, and it will last a lot longer.

Engagement rings, like this Leon Mege Pave Cushion Cut Ring, love to be clean!

The Spa Bath

Even with great care, sooner or later we notice our jewelry just doesn’t sparkle like it did straight out of the store. Newsflash: wearing jewelry in the shower does not constitute a good cleaning. Many soaps can leave a residue on gemstones. To really clean most gemstone jewelry–NOT pearls, opals, or some other delicate materials–you are going to need to immerse, soak, and maybe gently clean the underside of the gems to get them to sparkle at their full potential. There are many, many different commercial products out there: ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners, plastic containers with special formulas from jewelry stores, sprays and cleaning cloths. Some may be safe for your particular jewelry, some may not be–you have to read the fine print.

The best choice for cleaning most gemstone jewelry set into precious metals like silver, gold and platinum is the following tried-and-true method using simple household ingredients. Get a secure container, like a bowl or Pyrex measuring cup. Add a small squirt of very gentle dishwashing soap, like a Mrs. Meyers brand. Mix with warm water until you have some suds. Gently lower your jewelry into the cup/bowl so that it doesn’t hit other jewelry. Now soak for a while, preferably 15 minutes or more. If your jewelry is made of diamonds, rubies, or sapphires and really dirty, get a soft-bristled toothbrush, one that has broken down from actual brushing use, and very gently scrub the underside of the gems and setting. Give it another rinse in the soapy water to remove particles, then rinse well with warm water. Let it air dry on a soft cloth or paper towel. If you have a microfiber cloth for cleaning your glasses, you can use that to wipe any water spots from the surfaces. And, voila! Your jewelry will sparkle once more.

Shortcut #1: Review of PUROSOL Jewelry Cleaner

The above method, while extremely effective, also takes a little planning and time to execute. Since most of us have exactly zero extra minutes per day to do something as frivolous as cleaning jewelry, there are a couple of shortcuts I can share.

PUROSOL, a company that makes all-natural cleaners for the optics and jewelry industry, sent me a 1 oz sample of their Molecular Cleanser For Soft Stones. (I did not receive compensation for this review, nor did I promise a positive review in exchange for the 1 oz sample.) According to the label and literature, it is made of plant extracts that release dirt particles by breaking their molecular bonds. Many commercial jewelry cleaners contain chemicals, even ammonia, that can be bad to inhale or come into contact with the skin. With PUROSOL, you simply spray the solution onto the jewelry, then wipe off the surface using the microfiber cloth included in the cleaning kit. This spray, wipe and go method is very convenient, and the whole kit comes in a plastic poly bag. Because of the gentle nature of the cleaner, it is safe to use on Pearls, Amber, Coral, Emerald, Opal and other delicate gemstones that normally should NEVER come near a commercial cleaner. Of course, it’s also safe for Diamonds, Sapphires, Rubies, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarines and Topaz. PUROSOL also states that cleaning with their molecular cleaner will leave jewelry cleaner for longer, as the formula repels dirt. I couldn’t figure out a reliable, scientific method for testing this in real life, so we will just have to trust them on that one.

In my tests, the solution worked well for surface cleaning. Gemstone surfaces sparkled, and the metal really gleamed after the wiping. It had no discernible smell and didn’t irritate the skin at all. But on my diamond earrings, which were pretty dull from soap residue, this surface clean left them brighter, but not jewelry-showroom brilliant, even after a second application.

You can clean rings with delicate stones, like this Emerald and Diamond ring from Gemvara.com, safely with Purosol.

Shortcut #2: Review of Brilliant Restorer 1 Minute Cleaner

My own collection of jewelry is pretty diamond-heavy, so I moved on to testing another spray-on jewelry cleaner, brilliant restorer one minute diamond and jewelry cleaner. This 2 oz bottle was given to me by a jewelry retailer, and is distributed through retail jewelers throughout the country (I did not receive any compensation for this review). This cleaner is safe to use on Diamond, Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Alexandrite, Ruby, Peridot, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Topaz, Zircon, Tanzanite, and Spinel gemstones, and Gold, Platinum, Silver, Steel and Titanium metals. It is NOT for use on porous or delicate gemstones such as Opal, Emerald, Pearl, Onyx, Jade, etc. gemstones, or on blackened, antiqued or oxidized metals, or enamel. It does contain mild phosphoric acid so they advise good ventilation and to rinse your fingers/hands thoroughly after contact–not exactly gentle.

But it works very, very well for diamond jewelry, particularly jewelry that hasn’t seen a cleaning for a while. You simply spray it on, wait 10-60 seconds, then rinse with warm water for 10 seconds. I ended up with diamond jewelry that looked like it had been scrubbed. For the aformentioned diamond stud earrings, it cut through most of the soap residue, but still did not cut through everything the way that a gentle scrubbing on the underside would. Still, for a one minute clean, it was pretty amazing.

Brilliant Restorer is a great cleaning option for diamond-intensive pieces, like this C Greene Heart with Lock Pendant.

Shortcut #3: Connoiseurs Diamond Dazzle Stik

This shortcut has a great concept and packaging: the Diamond Dazzle Stik comes as a bright red wand, and the tagline of “Twist, Brush, and Dazzle!”. I received this as a free sample from the company, again with no compensation or promise of a favorable review. The company is no new-comer to the jewelry cleaning business, they’ve been around for a very long time and make a whole raft of jewelry cleaning products. The Dazzle Stik is just their most recent, and possibly most convenient, option. The cleaner, made of cleansers and polishing agents mixed with a gentle polymer, is dispensed by twisting the pen with a satisfying little click, and then you use the very soft brush end to apply the cleaner to the jewelry, rinse and dry.

I really liked that the Dazzle Stik is more than a spray. The packaging and product get high marks from me: it’s compact, and there is no liquidy solution to worry about spilling, so you can just pop it into your bag for on-the-go cleanings. It’s also incredibly easy to use. Best of all, with the brush and the additional friction you can apply gently to the undersides of gems like Diamonds, Sappphires and Rubies, it gets your jewelry almost as sparkly as the home spa method above. The Dazzle Stik did the best job on the diamond stud earrings, almost like the soak and scrub method. There are some caveats: the packaging says not to get near children or your eyes, which probably means it’s not the gentlest formula. They aren’t particularly forthcoming about what exactly is in the product, nor exactly what gems and metals are safe to use it on, even on their website.

Diamond Dazzle Stik

Bottom Line

If you have the time, the home spa method works great for a number of gems and jewelry, and will restore beautiful shine for your baubles.

If your collection of jewelry is mostly delicate gemstones or you clean your jewelry very frequently, use Purosol. Leave it on your bathroom sink for a daily dose of preventative clean.

If you have mostly diamond jewelry and don’t clean as frequently, use Brilliant Restorer for a quick power clean (also safe for Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine, Alexandrite, Ruby, Peridot, Sapphire, Tourmaline, Topaz, Zircon, Tanzanite, and Spinel). Not the best choice if you have sensitive skin or a delicate gem collection.

Get the Diamond Dazzle Stik and toss it in your bag, regardless of which cleaning method above you regularly use: it’s the best choice for on-the-go cleaning and the brush does a great job for a special night out where you want your ring to impress.

So go get your sparkle on.

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