Gold is gorgeous, but to keep it looking the way it once did, you need to put a little effort into maintenance. We'll take you through how to clean gold jewelry the right way so you can bring each piece to a shine.
Cleaning gold jewelry is actually not too difficult. You have to go carefully, but the tools you need are easy to find, and you may already have them at home.
An Easy Guide to Gold Jewelry Care
Gold isn't too hard to look after, and you don't need special tools or cleaning solutions to do it. In fact, the simpler the cleaning routine, the better it is for your jewelry, and you may already have some of these items laying around.
What You Need to Get Started
Okay, here's what you need to clean your gold jewelry:
- Regular dish soap (nothing too harsh, just the kind that you'd wash your dishes in)
- A soft cloth
- A soft toothbrush (a baby toothbrush works great)
- A small strainer
That's literally all you need for gold. You don't want to use anything too harsh, because that can damage it. The idea is to go as softly as possible so you don't cause any scratches.
It's also worth noting that the higher the karat, the harder it will be to care for. High-karat gold is gorgeous but really soft, and can easily be scratched or damaged. You can still clean them, but maybe go extra gently with these special pieces.
Not sure of the karat? You can read our guide on How to Read Gold Identification Marks at Home, which may be able to help you figure it out.
Step-by-Step Gold Cleaning Routine
The best thing to do is to let the soapy water do most of the work for you. Here's the basic routine:
- Mix a cup of water with a few drops of soap - really, you don't need a lot, just enough to make a few bubbles
- Soak the piece in the soapy water for around five minutes - that's all the time it takes
- Strain the pieces using the strainer - hopefully, your jewelry will be looking better already.
- Use the soft toothbrush to remove grime - if there are any grimy areas, you can tackle them (softly!) with the toothbrush, which you can dip into the soapy water.
- Dry the jewelry thoroughly using a soft cloth - thoroughly dry each piece with a soft cloth to bring your gold up to a gorgeous shine.
The good thing about gold is that it doesn't rust or tarnish. You can leave the piece to dry itself, as drying can take a while for pieces like rope necklaces, but it's a good call to make sure it's all dry before you wear it again; if there are wet areas on a ring, for example, it can rub against your skin, causing irritation. This is especially important if you have sensitive skin.
But that's about it! The whole routine doesn't take long at all, and your pieces will look beautiful and shiny again.
How to Clean Gold Jewelry With Pearls?
While that all sounds easy, we need to quickly point something out: an important exception to this rule is any kind of jewelry with pearls. Pearls shouldn't be soaked because it can cause damage, and you really want to avoid weakening the settings.
In fact, if you have any kind of gold jewelry with a stone (like turquoise or opals), it's better to use this technique to be on the safe side. It doesn't take any longer, but it'll keep your precious piece safe from harm.
What You Need to Clean Pearls/Stones
You will need:
- A small, soft make-up brush
- Mild shampoo (like baby shampoo)
- A microfiber cloth
- A soft cloth or towel
Step-by-step Pearl Cleaning Routine
The routine is really easy:
- Mix a cup of warm water with a splash of mild shampoo - again, just a little is fine
- Lay the piece down on a soft cloth or towel
- Dip a brush into the mixture and use it to clean the pearl or stone, using very gentle movements
- Use a damp cloth to gently remove the soapy mixture from the piece, and then allow to air dry
Any jewelry with a precious stone can benefit from this cleaning routine, and it will (hopefully) keep your piece shiny and beautiful without causing any problems.
Precious stones and pearls are beautiful, but they can turn dull with a lot of wear - a quick clean is a super easy way to bring them back to their former glory, and it's worth taking a little bit of care to make sure nothing gets damaged.
Professional Jewelry Cleaning
There are professional jewelry cleaning services that you can use. In fact, if you have a lot of pieces that need cleaning, this is obviously going to be the easier option.
The downside of this is that a) you have the small risk of taking the items out to someone else, and while a loss is unlikely, it's still a possibility, and b) you'll have to pay for the service, which obviously is an issue if you're on a budget.
Gold is so easy to bring up to a shine, so it's definitely worth trying to do it at home, but if you'd rather leave it to an expert, then go for it: if you've got a lot to clean at once, it does make sense.
How Often Should I Clean My Jewelry?
There's no hard and fast rule here. Clean them when you think they need it: you don't need to stick to a routine if your pieces are looking clean and shiny already.
Pieces you wear more often may need regular cleaning. For example, engagement rings can lose their shine after a while, and a gentle clean every month or so should help to keep it looking nice.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Gold is gorgeous, but it can be scratched, especially if it's a high-karat piece. There are definitely a few things to avoid if you don't want a scratch-related disaster to happen.
The main thing is to avoid harsh chemicals. Harsh cleaners can cause damage to gold and may even discolor the metal. So, if you can, avoid chlorine and bleach, and make sure to take your jewelry off when you're cleaning your home.
The other thing is to just go gently. Soft gold, in particular, is prone to scratching. Make sure to use a soft cloth and not a cloth with any rough, abrasive material.
If there's a stubborn mark on your piece and it won't come off with gentle scrubbing, it may be worth taking it to a jeweler for professional cleaning or advice. They should be able to help.
Ultrasonic cleaners use ultrasound waves and chemicals to remove dirt and oily marks from jewelry. That sounds like a very cool option for cleaning jewelry, but we'd recommend going really carefully with them.
If your piece has a gem or a pearl, you need to be really sure that they are firmly attached. If there's any sign of weakness in the setting, don't risk using an ultrasonic cleaner - it's just not worth the potential damage.
You should also go gently with high-karat gold, as it's more vulnerable to scratches.
Plus, if you have gold-plated or gold-filled pieces, it may be worth avoiding the ultrasonic treatment to avoid scratches or damage.
Hopefully, this has helped you to figure out how to clean gold jewelry the right way. It's an easy thing to do, and it takes just a little time and gentle cleaning to get your rings, bracelets, and necklaces looking gorgeous again.