Your new puzzle ring isn't just a fun piece of jewelry; it's also an heirloom in the making, a precious piece of jewelry that can be passed down through generations — if you take proper care of it. The good news is that cleaning your rings—and keeping it clean—is actually a very simple task. The advice we provide below is safe and will not damage your ring. (This is not necessarily true of all jewelry cleaning “hacks” you might find on the Internet.)
The best way to clean almost any ring is to make a solution with warm—almost hot—water and dishwashing soap. Soak your ring for about 20 to 40 minutes, then gently brush all surfaces of your ring (and around the stone if there is one) with a very soft (old) toothbrush. Finally, rinse under warm running water. You can also safely use Windex window cleaner as your cleaning solution. The old, soft toothbrush is key to getting in and around those nooks and crannies that soaking alone won’t get to. If needed, repeat the above steps. Note: This simple cleaning process does not remove tarnish from silver. See below for more on that.
Chemicals and Cleaners to Avoid
There are some substances that you should avoid using to clean your ring. You should never use any household cleaners such as bleach, chlorine, or acetone nail polish remover. Pure bleach will turn your silver ring black! These are all harsh chemicals that can break down some of the base metals in your ring, dulling the finish, and actually damaging porous colored gemstones. Also never use any kind of abrasive products such as toothpaste, baking soda, or any powdered cleaners, which can easily scratch metals—particularly gold. It is OK to clean gold using a jewelry cleaning solution that contains ammonia. Ammonia will not cause any harm to gold.
What About Tarnished Silver?
First, if you bought your sterling silver ring from us, it won’t tarnish hardly at all. That because the alloy used in our sterling silver rings is not copper, which has traditionally been the most common alloy used in sterling silver. (And it’s the copper that causes the silver to tarnish.) Instead, we use a “deox alloy”, which means your ring is tarnish resistant. Today’s refiners make alloys that are far superior to copper and ideal for creating a non-tarnishing ring.
But if you do have a silver ring (or other silver jewelry) that has become tarnished, there is a simple homemade recipe that utilizes a chemical process known as ion exchange that can sometimes work quite well to remove tarnish ... and it won’t damage your silver in any way. Here’s what you do:
- Pour 1 cup of boiling water into the bowl (or enough water to cover your jewelry)
- Mix in 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of white salt and stir until the baking soda and salt have dissolved
- Add 1/2 cup of white vinegar—be prepared for the fizz; it is normal and safe!
- Submerge your silver jewelry in the solution, making sure it is touching the aluminum foil, and let it soak for five minutes or so (you might want to stir it around a bit to see whether the tarnish is going away)
- When you see that the silver's shine has been restored, remove the silver from the solution, rinse well with water, and polish with a microfiber cloth
- If you're working with deeply tarnished silver, you might need to repeat the process two or more times (Make sure the solution is completely heated, since the reaction is much slower if the solution is cool)
- The best way to prevent silver jewelry from tarnishing is to wear it!
NOTE: Only use the above cleaning method on plain silver that does not have any stones, gems, glue or resin.
Gemstones And Pearls
Non-porous stones such as sapphires, rubies, diamonds, blue topaz, citrine, and peridot, can be cleaned with pretty much any kind of cleaner. Porous (softer) stones such as emeralds, opals, turquoise, lapis, coral, and sugilite may be cleaned with a mild solution of dish soap and water, but no Windex or ammonia.
For pearls, use an ionic cleaner or a mild solution of dish soap and warm water. For really grimy and/or discolored pearls, try Efferdent. Pearls are very sensitive; after you put them on, you should never spray hairspray or perfume near them. And you should never apply perfume anywhere that your pearls can touch. The alcohol in perfume attacks the surface of the pearls and discolors it. That's why you see a lot of discoloration in older pearls that haven't been properly taken care of.
- Clean your rings regularly. Don’t let them get all gunked up to the point where they are hard to clean.
- Avoid exposing your ring to household chemicals when cleaning with bleach or ammonia, or when swimming (or hot-tubbing) in chlorinated water, as these chemicals can erode the alloys in precious metals.
- If you've been extra active in the outdoors or even in the kitchen and there's a hard compacted layer of grime or dirt on your ring, you can try our suggested formula above, but it that doesn’t work, it's best to get it cleaned at a jewelry store where they have professional-grade products specifically for this purpose.
- If your ring has prongs, you should take it to a jeweler occasionally to make sure the prongs are tight. Get your ring professionally cleaned at the same time.
- Never use silver cleaner on anything that's not silver.