Once you have splurged on fine jewelry, the least you can do is keep your bling looking its best. Gemologist Jonathon Ohayon, chief operating officer of Brilliance.com, a diamond and jewelry retailer headquartered in Boynton Beach, offered advice for cleaning different gems and metals. As a general guideline, he said, it's ideal to clean frequently worn jewelry once every three to six months and get it professionally cleaned once annually. And if you're cleaning jewelry in the sink, be sure to use a drain stopper to keep anything from going down the drain. It may be safer to use a large bowl.
Materials needed: Depending on the gem or metal, soft-bristled toothbrush, jewelry polishing cloth, ammonia, dish soap, jewelry cleaner, bowl.
Diamonds: Mix one part ammonia with six parts lukewarm water and submerge your diamond jewelry in the solution for 10 to 20 minutes. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to scrub the jewelry. Rinse.
Although diamonds are durable and can take a lot of abuse, there is a risk that frequent wear can loosen the rock from its setting. To ensure it is secure, take a toothpick and gently poke the diamond from the side. If it moves, take it to the jeweler to get it professionally secured.
Gemstones: Gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies are softer than diamonds (and stones such as topaz, opals and amethysts are softer still), so take greater care when cleaning them. Dip a soft-bristled toothbrush into a mixture of lukewarm water and a few drops of mild dishwashing soap and scrub away the grime. Rinse. Don't submerge gems in a solution for a long time because they are more porous than diamonds, and you can't be sure how they will react.
Pearls: Polish with a jewelry polishing cloth. If it is a string of pearls, just hold the cloth between two fingers and pull the string through. The main issue with pearls is that they can dry out, so don't store them in an overly dry place.
Gold: Clean with a soft-bristled toothbrush dipped in a solution of lukewarm water and dish soap; once a year you can do a deeper clean with the water and ammonia mixture used for diamonds. Rinse. Polish with a dry soft cloth or a jewelry polishing cloth, which will better return the luster to the jewelry.
Silver: Dry polish using a soft cloth or jewelry polishing cloth. Avoid coarse towels or fabrics, which can scratch. If you need to clean more thoroughly, scrub with a soft toothbrush dipped in a water and dish soap mixture and then polish with the soft cloth.
If the silver is tarnished and won't improve with basic cleaning, take it to a jeweler for professional cleaning. To prevent the oxidation that causes tarnish, store the jewelry in its own plastic or soft cloth bag.
Platinum: Let it soak in a gentle jewelry cleaner — never use harsh chemicals or soaps — and then polish it with a soft, dry cloth or jewelry polishing cloth.