Costume jewelry is often delicate and requires more careful attention when cleaning. Often times, pieces are made of several different materials, it’s important to check your cleaner to make sure it’s safe for all parts of the piece. If your piece contains several different components (gemstones, metals, etc.) use this rule of thumb: Use only cleaners that are safe for the weakest component of your jewelry.
Choosing a Cleaner
Before we discuss how to clean your jewelry, it’s important to look what you can and cannot use to clean costume jewelry.
- Avoid using alcohols or acids such as ammonia or vinegar.
- Do not use soap and water to clean costume jewelry as it leaves a residue on the metal.
- Windex can damage stones and finishes and should be avoided.
- Vinegar can be harmful to gemstones and should also be avoided.
- A jewelry cleaner is your best choice. Choose a cleaner that is safe for the type of metal used in your piece. If there are several, choose the cleaner that is safe for the weakest one. Some examples are Connisseurs Jewelry Cleaner or Goddard’s Jewelry Cleaner.
Costume Jewelry Cleaning
If you wear your jewelry daily or very often you will want to clean it weekly. If you wear it only for special occasions, you will want to clean it either after each wearing or before putting it back into storage. When cleaning costume jewelry, the driest method is the safest method so use as little liquids as necessary to remove the dirt and build-up.
You Will Need:
- Cleaning solution (see above)
- Small dish
- Jewelry brush or baby toothbrush (make sure it has soft bristles)
- Soft cloth
The Cleaning Process:
- Begin by finding a well-lit area to work in and gather all your supplies.
- Pour a small amount of cleaning solution into a small dish.
- Dip the soft bristled brush in to the cleaning solution and carefully scrub away any dirt from the jewelry. Do not soak the piece in the solution as it can weaken the adhesives and bonds. Carefully scrub the folds and bends in the pieces as dirt often gets trapped there.
- Use a wooden toothpick to remove any residue that cannot be reached with the brush.
- Rinse carefully with clean water.
- Dry quickly and thoroughly. You may want to lay the piece on a soft cloth and dry it with the hairdryer on a cool air setting.
- Return your piece to its storage in a dry place separate from other jewelry.
Additional Tips and Advice
- If you don’t have a jewelry brush, an eyebrow brush will work as long as the bristles are soft. Using any brush with stiff bristles can scratch the jewelry surface.
- If you have a gemstone that is Pave Set (the stones are glued into the setting), do not immerse the piece in liquid during cleaning.
- Store costume jewelry away from other metal jewelry to avoid scratches. Using small pouches or separate compartments in a jewelry box works well.
- Do not expose costume jewelry to excessive heat as it can break down the bonds and adhesives.
- If your piece is a family heirloom or a valuable, delicate piece, you may want to have a professional jeweler clean it.