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The Ultimate Guide to Care and Cleaning of Jewelry

This guide on jewelry cleaning by Julie Abelstedt goes over everything you need to know to care for your jewelry, clean your jewelry, and protect your jewelry.
Julie Abelstedt
Founder of Abelstedt

Failure to clean or maintain your jewelry such as your engagement ring or wedding ring can result in discolored metal, scratches, or even lost diamonds or stones.

It’s easy to avoid damage and keep your jewelry shining like new. However, it does require that you take care of them.

But you can now feel completely safe because I will in this guide tell you exactly what to do to both prevent damage to your jewelry as well as make them look beautiful again if the damage has already happened. I will first review how to prevent damage to your jewelry, then how to clean them (both the metal and the stones), and finally, what you can do if the damage has occurred and cleaning can not save the jewelry.

Let’s first review silver jewelry and gold-plated silver jewelry.

Silver Jewelry and Gold-Plated Silver Jewelry

Silver jewelry can oxidize over time (get black spots or get dark) if they are not polished, cleaned, and cared for. Abelstedt’s silver jewelry is no exception. Sterling silver is a precious metal that requires cleaning from time to time. Gold plated silver jewelry can also oxidize and get black spots, and it’s therefore also important that you clean these.

In a minute, I will explain what to do further if your jewelry is gold plated. If you are in doubt about what gold-plated silver jewelry is, here comes a short explanation.

What Is Gold-Plated Silver Jewelry?

A gold-plated silver jewelry piece is solid silver jewelry with a plating of gold that lies only on the surface of the silver. So when the jewelry wears, the silver color will begin to emerge since the whole ring is not made of gold. It’s therefore important that you pay extra attention to your gold-plated silver jewelry, as otherwise the coating will fade quickly and your jewelry will start to turn silver.

Prevent to Protect: How to Store Your Silver Jewelry and Gold-Plated Silver Jewelry

If you want to be absolutely sure that your jewelry does not get dark, do not just put them in a jewelry box. Put them in a small jewelry bag that can keep as much oxygen as possible away from the jewelry.

Before storing any jewelry, make sure it’s clean and dry. Moisture can cause the metal to tarnish or degrade much faster. And if your jewelry is gold-plated, moisture can cause the coating to disappear more quickly.

I recommend removing all dirt and oxidation from silver jewelry that needs to be stored for more than a week. Storing dirty jewelry for an extended period of time (regardless of the type of jewelry) can cause serious plating problems.

How to Polish and Clean Silver Jewelry and Gold Plated Jewelry

When your favorite ring starts to give off a strange metallic smell or when your signature necklace looks stained, it’s time for you to get the jewelry polished. Fortunately, though, it’s easy if you do it right. Oxidation also occurs on gold-plated silver jewelry.

Here are three main methods to clean your silver jewelry:

Homemade cleanser: You can give your silver jewelry shine again by soaking them in 1/2 cup of white vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons of baking powder for two to three hours. Then rinse under cold water and dry thoroughly. NOTE: If your jewelry is made of gold-plated silver, I do not recommend this method, as it can break down the coating.

Liquid silver cleaner: If you want an easier solution, I always recommend using a small amount of silver cleaner on a soft cloth which you rub gently over the surface several times. This removes stains and dark streaks that may occur. Silver cleaner can be purchased in most major supermarkets.

A silver polishing cloth: A silver polishing cloth is also a good solution if you want to be extra gentle with your silver jewelry. I can especially recommend this with gold-plated silver jewelry, as we here want to spare the gold plating.

How to Make the Gold Plating Last Longer

When buying gold-plated jewelry, it should be taken into consideration that the jewelry is silver and simply has a coating on the surface of 18 karat gold.

Rings are particularly exposed as they are constantly in contact with many surfaces such as tables, handles, etc. Therefore, rings are easier to wear than earrings or necklaces. If you want a ring that retains its gold color without you having to be careful, you have to buy a ring that is made of pure gold but here the price is unfortunately also completely different.

To preserve the gold plating, it’s important to take the ring off when sleeping, exercising, taking a shower, and washing hands, as these things can cause the jewelry to wear faster.

Be sure to keep your jewelry dry. The fastest way to lose the coating is if your jewelry comes in contact with moisture and liquids.

Here are just a few extra tips for preserving gold plating:

  1. Remove your jewelry before swimming in chlorine or salt water or when you’re generally in contact with water that could hit your gold-plated jewelry.
  2. Remove your jewelry before engaging in activities that will make you sweat.
  3. Wait to put on your jewelry until you have applied lotion, makeup, perfume, etc. and the area is dry.
  4. Remove your jewelry if you want to bring them into contact with something hard (for example, remove your ring before lifting weights).
  5. Store your plated jewelry where they do not rub against other hard surfaces and where they may be enclosed in a plastic bag or a velvet bag (one container per piece of jewelry is ideal).

If your jewelry has already lost its coating, all is not lost. You can breathe new life into your jewelry by having them plated again with 18 or 24 karat at your local goldsmith.

At Abelstedt, all of our gold-plated jewelry is quality checked to ensure that there is an accurate 10 micron gold plating. The normal coating on other jewelry brands is usually 3-5 microns, so the coating on Abelstedt’s jewelry is therefore thick. However, this does not mean that the coating can not fade if you do not take care of them.

Gold and White Gold

Now you know how to clean your silver jewelry, but what about your gold jewelry? It’s at least as important that you make sure to clean your gold and white gold jewelry even if it does not oxidize like silver. It is also important here that you do it the right way as you may otherwise risk the rhodium plating on your white gold ring, make unnecessary scratches, etc.

How to Store Gold and White Gold Jewelry

Do not store your gold jewelry in a draughty, damp, or cold closet or a warm, enclosed space. Instead, store them at room temperature outside of direct sunlight. Also, choose a place that maintains constant low humidity.

There are many jewelry boxes in hard plastic and wood, but for fine gold jewelry, you should find something that has a soft fabric lining. This way you do not risk damaging the gold with scratches. Best of all, you should put your jewelry in a separate plastic or jewelry bag so that the jewelry does not rub up against each other.

How to Polish and Clean Your Gold Jewelry

White Gold

Maintaining white gold jewelry is a little more difficult compared to caring for rings made of yellow gold or platinum. The reason has to do with how white gold is made: It consists of yellow gold mixed with white metals and plated with plating (usually rhodium) to hide the yellowish color. In order not to ruin that rhodium and clean your white gold ring properly, just follow the steps below:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing mild soap and warm water. Do not use detergents containing chlorine or other harsh chemicals.
  2. Soak your white gold ring in the solution for 20-30 minutes.
  3. Gently rub the ring with a soft cloth or brush to remove dirt.
  4. Rinse the ring with lukewarm water to remove soap residue.
  5. Wipe the white gold ring with a clean towel.

Tip: If your ring is particularly dirty, you can add a few drops of ammonia to the water.

Important: Do not use abrasive substances to scrub your white gold ring so as not to damage its coating. Although rhodium plating is quite durable and is unlikely to wear off after a single cleaning session, repeated use of hard materials on white gold will have a noticeable effect on the surface.

If your ring is scratched, you can always take it to a jeweler and have its scratches sanded away. However, if white gold is polished too often, its rhodium plating will quickly wear off. If this happens, you can have the ring re-coated with rhodium.

Sooner or later, a white gold piece of jewelry needs to have its coating restored, but how quickly the coating will wear off depends on how often you wear and polish your ring.


You do not have to be as careful with yellow gold jewelry as you do with white gold. However, you should still not use harsh cleaners or too hot water when cleaning it (not to mention cleaners that grind too much on the gold).

In most cases, a cleaning cloth will be able to take dirt and grime on a gold ring, but if you want it to be extra clean, I would recommend that you make use of this tip:

  1. Fill a bowl with hot (non-boiling) water and add a few drops of dish soap.
  2. Put your jewelry in the water and let it soak for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use a soft toothbrush or paintbrush to loosen dirt. You can also use a soft cloth to spare the jewelry a little more.
  4. Rinse under the tap and then gently wipe the jewelry with a dry cloth or cleaning cloth.

How to Clean Gemstones and Gemstones in Your Jewelry

If the stones on your jewelry have started to look dark or if they have lost their luster, it is definitely because they are dirty, so the light can no longer reflect through. However, it can be a bit difficult to fix as a lot of dirt is sitting under the stone and it’s therefore not always easy to remove it. Here’s what you need to do to get the stones beautiful again without damaging them.

The Most Commonly Used Cleaning Method for Gemstones and Gemstones

The most commonly used and gentle way to clean stones in your jewelry is to do it at home using this do-it-yourself solution: a dish, lukewarm water, a soft toothbrush and some mild dishwashing detergent.

The milder the soap, the better. To make it even cleaner, simply mix a drop of dish soap in a bowl with a little lukewarm water. soak the jewelry in the mixture for a few minutes. Then use the toothbrush to gently remove dirt and debris. Try to get in behind the stone with the toothbrush as this is often where the dirt sits. For dirt in hard-to-reach places, you can gently use a toothpick to loosen it.

While cleaning the jewelry, be aware of any loose stones or damage that needs to be repaired. If the stones are loose, stop wearing the jewelry until it can be repaired. Finally, pat the jewelry dry and allow it to air dry completely before putting it back for storage.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Gemstones and Jewelry Stones

Some of the remedies that should never be used when cleaning jewelry stones are chlorine or abrasives such as toothpaste. These corrosives contain chemicals that can damage gemstones and metals.

Avoid cleaning the jewelry near the sink, and if necessary, be sure to cover the sink drain so that the jewelry does not slip out of your hand and fall into the drain.

Can You Still Not Get Your Jewelry Clean, or Has Your Gold Plating Already Fallen Off?

If you have tried all the above cleaning options, I recommend that you either get yourself an ultrasonic cleaner or visit your nearest jeweler to have them clean the jewelry for you with an ultrasonic cleaner. This usually removes the dirt and can create results you cannot imagine. If you have already taken a quick visit to your local jeweler, you can also have them polish your jewelry or possibly get them to re-coat your gold-plated jewelry if you think the gold is starting to wear off.

I hope this guide has given you what you need to keep your jewelry beautiful for many years to come. If not, you are always welcome to write to us by chat or e-mail, and then we can definitely answer any questions you may have about your jewelry.

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