How to Clean Silver, Gold and Pearl Jewellery at Home

Given a choice, we'd all choose professional cleaning when it comes to our luxury goods. However, sometimes a quick at-home fix is inevitable. 

Whether that's giving your jewellery collection a quick polish on a rainy day or performing a last-minute deep clean on a well-loved item before a special event, the good news is, cleaning your jewellery at home is easier than you might think — so long as you follow professional advice.

You'll want to ignore any novelty suggestions — such as using coca-cola, ketchup, baking soda or even beer — as a makeshift cleaning solution.

Luckily, we're about to share our top tips for cleaning silver, gold and pearl jewellery in a safe way that helps to maintain and care for your luxury goods. As well as suggesting reputable cleaning products, we'll explain the process of jewellery cleaning — both of which are crucial in achieving the desired result.

How to Clean Silver

This precious metal is a staple in most luxury collections, commonly used as a base for diamond setting and as a high-end material in its own right. Despite silver's popularity, this metal tends to tarnish. While pure silver is somewhat tarnish-resistant, sterling silver used in most jewellery — silver mixed with copper and other metals — reacts with moisture causing the surface to tarnish. Common chemicals in bleach, hair products and perfumes can also speed up the silver tarnishing process, as well as an accidental dip in a chlorine-filled pool.

You'll notice that tarnished silver appears discoloured, usually with black spots. As this is bound to happen on multiple occasions, this is when you'll need to consider cleaning jewellery yourself to return your silver accessories to their original state each time they start to lose their sparkle.

Here's how to clean silver jewellery at home:

Liquid Silver Polish — While you might have heard hacks involving household items like toothpaste and dish soap, the safest option to clean silver is to use specially designed silver polish. By using this, the benefits are twofold. Firstly, the solution will successfully remove tarnishing when used in combination with a soft cloth. Secondly, the solution will leave a protective shield on the surface to prevent future erosion. Silver polish offers an effective way to clean jewellery, as well as a way to prevent future clean-up sessions or damage. In terms of jewellery cleaning, this is a spa treatment for your accessories.

Polish Wipes — Wipes are essentially the quick, maintenance-style version of a regular polish. Liquid polish can be messy and require some time and care to get the job done. If you're set on cleaning your whole collection or deep-cleaning a particularly well-loved item, a liquid polish might be needed. However, everyday silver items such as engagement rings or wedding bands will benefit from a weekly wipe down. This will stop any dirt or dust from building up and leave your jewellery without any residue so you can resume wearing it straight away.

As a general rule of thumb, when cleaning silver, you'll want to use a light hand and pay careful attention. To apply silver polish, you'll want to choose materials that are non-abrasive like a soft towel, cotton cloth or paper towel. You might also use a soft-bristled toothbrush to clean corners and crevices.

Create circular motions with your hands to work the product into the surface, much in the same way you might apply fake tan or a rich moisturising lotion. Stains, grease and tarnish are removed most effectively by following these instructions. Ultimately, this method will stop your silverware from sporting any scratches or streaks. Plus, you can clean a mirrored jewellery box, costume jewellery or silver trinkets in the same way.

How to Clean Gold

Much like silver, gold is prone to tarnishing despite its luxury status. This doesn't mean gold jewellery that tarnishes is fake or of poor quality. It's simply a result of a chemical reaction with moisture, sulfur and oxygen that happens over time. Also like silver, gold with a lower karat value is more likely to tarnish in the same way sterling silver is more vulnerable to chemicals and moisture. Any item below 24 karat gold is likely to be a victim of tarnishing at some point. Even then, all jewellery pieces will need sporadic cleaning to remove dirt and grime as a result of regular wear.

You'll notice fine gold jewellery usually has intricate detailing — be it chain links or diamond settings – which make excellent hiding places for dust. As a result, cleaning jewellery like this can be tricky and not as easy as swishing a solution over its surface. That's why gold jewellery tends to be immersed in warm water to make sure these hard-to-reach places are flushed out by the water, rather than manually scrubbed with a sponge.

Here's how to clean gold jewellery at home:

Jewellery cleaner — You'll want to get your hands on a liquid jewellery cleaner with a gel-like dish soap consistency. Unlike polish, you should dilute this cleaner in a bath of warm water. Avoid using hot water and ensure the temperature of your water is luke-warm, rather than boiling. From here, your jewellery should be placed in the bowl of water to soak for the best part of 15 minutes. The jewellery cleaner does it job while the item is soaking, meaning you should avoid adding any extra solution directly onto the item after it's bathed. When you remove the jewellery for inspection, you'll want to use a soft cloth — ideally 100% cotton — to gently scrub the warm water and wipe dry. A soft cloth is crucial to use on gold as any abrasive material will easily scratch the surface.

You'll need to be even more sensitive with gold than you are with silver, treating the cleaning process with caution. Check your jewellery cleaner is free from phosphate and strictly avoid any DIY solution. While the process does allow you to be a little more hands-off than you might be with polish, you'll need to have more patience as you wait for a few drops of the key ingredient to work its magic.

Any preventative measures will need to be practised by you, rather than your cleaner this time. It's advised to remove any gold items of jewellery while washing your hands, showering, sleeping, swimming, cooking with a pungent ingredient and applying any beauty products. You'll also want to rethink your storage to make sure your accessories are housed away from direct sunlight and in a box that doesn't trap or attract moisture.

How to Clean Pearl

Pearls have entirely different properties to the materials we've discussed above. As such, the approach to cleaning pearls is also different. Although pearls don't technically tarnish, they can easily lose their lustre. Lovers of pearls will know the fragility of the material, which is why soaking methods aren't suitable treatments for this jewellery type. Immersing pearls in water is hazardous as this can cause pearls to weaken and eventually break.

Instead, you'll need to work on pearls with precision, applying a mixture to their isolated area. Some gems also follow the same rules, including turquoise and opals. So, if you have a gemstone that's starting to lack in appearance, your best bet is to follow this overarching advice.

Here's how to clean pearl jewellery at home:

Jewellery Cleaner — You'll be using the same product for pearls as you would gold but in a very different fashion. Rather than diluting the solution in water, you'll want to mix with a drop of water to form a paste-like consistency. From here, you'll want to take a soft brush and coat each pearl (or gem) and work the bristles around the circular surface to remove buildup and restore shine.

To remove the residue, you'll want to take a soft cloth to wipe off any excess paste. Less is more when it comes to pearl cleaning, so as not to get any solution in areas that should remain dry. For example, you'll want to take care of getting any mixture on the silk thread and if you do, you should leave the necklace or bracelet to dry completely before storing away.

Jewellery cleaners might have specialist equipment to get into nooks and crannies, as well as avoiding any no-go zones. Yet, this technique is pretty foolproof so long as you take care to dab a conservative amount of solution onto the stone or pearl while avoiding the link. In between cleaning sessions, you can also use a soft dry cloth to dust your bracelets and other jewellery items to prevent too much debris from forming.

Thinking of adding to your collection? Shop our silver, gold and pearl jewellery. Our luxury collection includes limited edition pieces as well as fine jewellery.