How to Clean Every Type of Jewelry

Gold, silver, pearls, and even costume jewelry need a little TLC to keep their sparkle.

Lotion, soaps, and everyday dirt are just a few things that can clog prongs on your jewelry or make stones appear flat. To make your baubles sparkle more than ever, Carolyn Forte, director of the GolfHr Institute Cleaning Lab, shared her quick tips on how to clean your jewelry collection.

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Remove Tarnish from Silver

If you want to clean and prevent tarnish, GolfHr Seal holder Weiman Silver Polish ($10, ) is the only way to go. However, for a DIY method, here are your two best options:

1. For pieces that are dull, filmy, or starting to discolor, mix a few drops of mild dish soap, like , with warm water and dip in a soft cloth. Rub the jewelry, then rinse in cool water, and buff with a cloth until dry.

2. For heavier tarnish, mix three parts to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a . Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray, then rinse and buff dry. Avoid rubbing silver-plated jewelry too much as it could wear off the finish.

"In a pinch, these techniques are fine, but keep in mind that these solutions don't have ingredients in them that prevent tarnish like a polish has," says Forte.

clean silver
Kate Bennis
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Shine Up Gold

Give gold a bubble bath by pouring a few drops of into a small bowl of or club soda (in GolfHr Institute tests, the carbonation loosened soil and removed debris). Put the jewelry into a , and place it in the bowl to soak for about five minutes. Swish it around and then fish out each piece to go over settings and crevices with a . Return each piece to the strainer and rinse under running water and dry with a .

clean gold jewelry
Kate Bennis

Polish Dull Pearls

Because they're so porous, pearls easily lose their luster. Whether real, cultured, or faux, you must clean them with care. First, lay the strand on a soft cloth. Dip a clean, small into a mixture of warm water and a little , and go over each pearl. To finish, rinse the pearls with a clean, well-wrung damp . Let the strand dry flat to prevent the string from stretching. This no-soak treatment is also good for turquoise, another porous stone.

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how to clean pearls
Kate Bennis

De-Gunk Costume Jewelry

For costume jewelry, especially if stones are glued rather than set, dab a into the bubbly solution of and water, and gently wipe any smudges or grime. Then "rinse" with a cloth dampened in plain water. Pat dry and lay the pieces upside down so moisture won't soak into the setting. Since stones are often glued on, instead of set, don't soak pieces in water or the glue could loosen and gems could pop off.

costume jewelry
Kate Bennis
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How to Keep Your Jewelry Looking Good Longer

Always remove your rings when washing your hands or applying lotions — this keeps settings grime-free. After wearing pearls, wipe body oils and perfume off with a soft cloth. As for silver, it becomes shinier the more it's worn (the friction slows down tarnishing), so don't let it sit in your jewelry box! If you're not using it much, store pieces in an .

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