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How to Clean your Jewelry Before Selling it

Our jewelry rarely stays as pristine as it was when new.  So when you come to sell an old piece you used to wear every day, or had lying around for a while it can look worn, tarnished and dirty.  You might decide before selling that a bit of a clean is in order – it might help you to be able to sell it, or even get a better price.

Yes you can go to a professional jewelry cleaner but there are also many tried and true techniques to cleaning it at home which can be cheaper, quicker and effective.


1. Cleaning with White Vinegar

Suitable for: Gold, sterling silver, diamond

Vinegar is a common household cleaner, and it can also be used for jewelry.  It’s easy to clean jewelry with white/spirit vinegar.  Just fill a jar with some vinegar – enough to cover your jewelry item.  Do not dilute it.  Drop the piece into it and leave it for 10-15 minutes.

If this doesn’t quite do the trick you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub off any remaining dirt.  For greater cleaning power you can also add 1-2 tbsp of baking soda.

Rinse under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth to finish.


2. Cleaning with an Antacid

Suitable for: Diamond and gold

Antacids that are bought from supermarkets to relieve an upset stomach can also receive your jewelry of accumulated grime and dirt.

Fill a glass with warm water and drop in two tablets.  Add your jewelry and leave to soak until the bubbling stops – typically up to 10 minutes.

Rinse with cold water afterward and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.


3. Cleaning with Beer

Suitable for: Gold and gold plated jewelry – without gemstones

Beer contains hops, with acidity that can help to polish stains off your gold jewelry.  Just make sure to use light beer not dark, light is less harsh on your jewelry.  Poor a little bear onto a cloth and carefully rub the jewelry.  When you are finished dry with a clean cloth or towel.


4. Cleaning with Aluminum Foil and Baking Soda

Suitable for: Gold and silver

Line a tray with enough foil to cover your jewelry.  Sprinkle some baking soda over the item – using a sieve to make this easier.  Pour a small amount of boiling water on top.  You may need to rock the tray/foil so that the jewelry comes into contact with the foil on all sides.  You will start to notice dirt coming off onto the foil.  When it looks clean remove the item and rinse it then dry thoroughly.  Baking soda is corrosive to metals so shouldn’t be left without cleaning it off.


5. Cleaning with Dish Soap

Suitable for: Gold, silver and costume jewelry, porous and soft metals/gems

Squeeze a few drops of liquid soap into a bowl of lukewarm water – or carbonated water.  Soak the jewelry in the liquid for 15-30 minutes.  Gently scrub using a soft-bristled toothbrush; you can also use a q-tip for hard-to-reach areas.  Keep in mind that any gold-plated jewelry can easily be brushed away with a hard-bristled toothbrush.


6. Cleaning with Boiling Water

Suitable for: Diamond and gold

Using a heatproof Pyrex jug or bowl, boil the kettle and pour over enough boiling water to cover the jewelry completely.  Keep the jewelry so that no one piece is touching another.

Boling is not suitable for soft gemstones such as amber, corals, opals, pearls, turquoise and moonstones.


General DIY Jewelry Cleaning Tips

  • Don’t rinse with water that is too hot.  This can be damaging to jewels especially and precious stones.
  • If brushing with a toothbrush always use a soft-bristled brush to minimise damage.