Do You Clean Your Jewelry?

While at the Couture show in Vegas, I made it a point to stop by the Sparkle + Shine lounge. I must admit, that although I’m a total jewelry-o-holic, I’m not the best at cleaning my collection. What about you? Is this an area you can improve upon as well? I asked Kristie Nicolosi, President and CEO of The Kingswood Company, some questions about cleaning jewelry, and here’s what she had to say:

I know with summer upon us, our jewelry is likely getting quite dirty with sand, sunscreen, etc. I also know cleaning jewelry may be the last thing many people think of. But this is really important, right?

We all want to look fabulous on vacation, but wearing your best jewelry to the beach or poolside can end badly. You might lose a favorite piece in the waves or sand. The chemicals in chlorine from a pool or hot tub are damaging to metals. Water can loosen any piece set with glue. Sand can scratch metals. And, of course, suntan lotions will gum up your gems, causing them to lose their shine.

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So I recommend wearing fashion jewelry with your favorite bikini or caftan. But whether you’ve worn a fashion piece or fine jewelry (I know many women don’t remove their engagement and wedding rings, for example), you really need to clean it after a trip to the beach or pool, to remove chemicals, oils, salts and sand. Use a cleaning formula that is safe for the piece and then give it a quick wipe-down with a professional polishing cloth.

How often do you think jewelry needs to be cleaned?

It is safe to clean your jewelry as often as daily, when you use the right cleaning formulary, and you should definitely do it pretty routinely for pieces you wear often. No matter how careful you are, your rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces will get dull from body oils, lotions, cooking oils and more. For most pieces, we recommend soaking it for about two minutes in a professional cleaning formula and blotting dry. Some pieces cannot be soaked, such as strands of pearls or anything set with glue (like doublets), so be sure to ask your jeweler for guidance.

It’s also a smart idea to have your jewelry inspected by your jeweler annually. She will examine the piece for damage to the prongs and stones and offer to perform any necessary repairs. Your piece will also receive a professional cleaning and will come back to you looking almost new. It’s like a spa day for your jewelry!

Are there different ways to clean different types of jewelry? I wouldn’t imagine you’d clean a pair of silver earrings with turquoise in them the same way you’d clean pearls, right?

You are absolutely right! I always recommend that women ask their jeweler for guidance on how to routinely clean a piece at home. There are a number of different cleaning formulas which are safe for different kinds of jewelry. A fine jewelry cleaner is generally safe for diamonds, gold, platinum and other harder stones. A delicate or gentle jewelry cleaner should be non-ammoniated, so it would be safe on softer, more porous stones, such as pearls, turquoise, emeralds and more. You may also find a silver jewelry cleaner but those are generally only safe for sterling silver, not on any set stones or antiquing, so exercise caution.

It is safest to clean based on the most delicate element of the piece. For example, if a piece is made with diamonds and pearls, you must use a gentle formula that is safe for the pearls, even though the diamonds can be exposed to a stronger formula. Your example of a piece with silver and turquoise would require cleaning with a formula safe for the turquoise, so a sliver jewelry cleaning formula would not be safe in that instance but a gentle jewelry cleaner would be. If the silver in those earrings were tarnished, I would recommend cleaning with a gentle jewelry cleaner and then using a professional polishing cloth to remove the tarnish.

I’ve heard the The Kingswood company has a new natural jewelry cleaner out. Can you please tell me a bit more about that?

Thank you for asking about our Natural Jewelry Cleaner! We are super excited to offer this new formulary to our private-label retailers and brands and their customers. The formula is all-botanical, hypoallergenic, naturally derived, water-soluble and devoid of volatile organic compounds. For women who are concerned about their environmental footprint, it is an excellent choice (though all of our formularies are non-toxic and biodegradable). Our Natural Jewelry Cleaner is the only jewelry cleaning formula for diamond, gold and platinum jewelry to be awarded the EPA’s Design for the Environment designation and placement on its “Safer Choice” product list.

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Many of our retail customers are now carrying this product, so check with your favorite jeweler to see if it is available.

I want to thank Kristie for her words of wisdom, and I promise to make more of an effort in the jewelry cleaning department in the future!

Kristie Nicolosi is the President and CEO of The Kingswood Company, the industry’s leading supplier of high-quality, private-label jewelry care products. She travels extensively both nationally and internationally to keep up with the latest trends in the jewelry industry and to share her expertise in jewelry care, cleaning and education. A frequent contributor to publications such as In Store, Martha Stewart Weddings, the American Gem Society’s Spectra, the American Gem Trade Association’s Prism and more, Nicolosi also shares her knowledge and insights in her own blog #cleanjewelry and through Facebook and Twitter.