Jewellery Cleaners Are A Waste Of Money. Do This Instead
You’ve seen the ads on Insta. An engagement ring is dropped into a small basin of liquid and, poof! What seemed to be a clean piece of jewellery oozes out something you would see in a Harry Potter movie. A balloon of dirt and grime pollutes the water like nobody’s business like magic. And even as jewellers, we wanted one of these jewellery cleaning devices. But after a bit of digging, we absolutely don’t recommend buying an ultrasonic or steam cleaner. And what we do recommend is WAY cheaper, and easier to do.
How Does Jewellery Get Dirty In The First Place?
No matter how clean and careful you are as a person, over time your jewellery won’t looks as good as when you first bought it.
And apart from getting your hands dirty in the garden or in the clinic (if you work in the medical field), the biggest culprit is actually your hair and make-up. We are talking hairspray, lotions, foundation and even perfume.
Why? Because they all contain some form of oil, and specs of material. Over time, they build up in the little nooks and crannies of your jewellery and even build a thin film over your gemstone making it lose its sparkle.
Ultrasonic Jewellery Cleaners
We loved them when we first saw them, but now, not so much. But before we explain why, it’s worth knowing how they actually work.
Ultrasonic jewellery cleaners use high frequency ultrasound waves to create tiny bubbles in the water. And it is these tiny bubbles moving very fast that dislodges the dirt and oil.
Ultrasonic cleaners also look like small air fryers from Anko (We gotchyu New Zealand). And to use, we can’t fault it. It’s as simple as adding water into the cleaner and dipping your jewellery into the ultrasonic water.
But here’s the problem. Some ultrasonic cleaners heat water up to 80 degrees and this can damage softer stones like Opal.
Also — and this may sound weird to say — but ultrasonic jewellery cleaners are too effective. They can cause small diamonds or gemstones, particularly pavé to become loose because the bubbles are so small and move so fast.
And there are so many types of jewellery that you just shouldn’t put into an ultrasonic cleaner because it actually damages it. This includes:
Salt and pepper diamonds.
Almost every gemstone.
Foil backed jewellery.
And this isn’t even the full list. Our point here is that ultrasonic cleaners are great for a very specific type of jewellery to the point they aren’t actually even that helpful.
Jewellery Steam Cleaners
A jewellery steam cleaner works a little bit like an ultrasonic jewellery cleaner. It uses pressurised steam to literally blast away the dirt. Now the risk of damage is actually in the heat rather than the pressure. Steam cleaners are basically blasting boiling water at your ring. And the sudden change in temperature can actually damage your ring.
Most gemstones, even diamonds are not 100% exactly their chemical composition. They include other elements that can change the properties of the gemstone. And a steam cleaner is pretty aggressive to the point softer stones may actually even crack or break under pressure.
So what should you not put into a jewellery steam cleaner?
Salt and pepper diamonds.
Almost every gemstone.
Foil backed jewellery.
If you really want an ultrasonic or steam cleaner, you can use them for the following:
Yellow gold or platinum plain bands.
Keychains and coins.
Any precious stones you kind of want to get rid of.
How to actually clean your jewellery
Honestly, the best way to clean your jewellery is with a bit of soap and water. Just fill a small bowl with natural liquid soap and lukewarm water (not too hot!). Allow your ring to sit in the mixture for a few minutes, then gently dry with a soft towel. Give it one final wipe with a polishing cloth before returning it to your finger. Yes, it is that simple!
If you really want, consider buying a toothbrush or small jewellery brush. This will get into all of the small crevices that your jewellery may have. After soaking your ring in a combination of soap and warm water, lightly rub the brush against your jewellery while it’s still wet. This gentle motion loosens any debris that has been lodged over time. Be sure to use a soft bristle brush for this so that it doesn’t scratch.
We recommend that you clean your ring about once a fortnight to once a month. This will help it keep as clean and sparkly as the day that you received it.
We also recommend that you take your ring off when you are:
Playing sports or at the gym.
In a job that may get your hands quite dirty.
How often should I get my jewellery professionally cleaned?
At Four Words, you can bring your jewellery in for a professional clean. We will also examine the prongs and bezels and make sure that your setting is nice and snug. We recommend that you professionally clean your jewellery every one or two years. And if you have bought your ring from Four Words, you will receive a complimentary annual clean and service.
How long does a professional jewellery clean take?
It depends on how dirty and damaged your ring is. It can take anywhere between a couple of hours to two to five business days. This will include a deep clean, fixing up the prongs and in some instances giving the ring a polish.
Be careful of getting a clean in store and without a professional jeweller. They may use an ultrasonic or steam cleaner as a way for you to visit the store instead of actually caring about your jewellery that you want to get clean.
Do I need to buy cleaning solution?
You don’t need to buy cleaning solution. But if you want to, make sure you only use it on the jewellery and gemstone that it is designed for. Also, make sure it is ammonia-free. You don’t want to use cleaning products that are too harsh on your jewellery or your skin. And we know how tempting it is to buy a cleaning solution for silver jewellery — especially sterling silver, and necklaces. But honestly, some Lukewarm water and soap is more than enough to bring your jewellery back to life.
Should I buy a polishing cloth?
If you wear glasses and get a complimentary glasses case and cloth, you can just use that to dry your jewellery after giving it a wash.
If you don’t you can get a polishing cloth for one or two dollars from any good hardware store — even your local supermarket.
The value of using one is to make sure that your jewellery is free from lint.
Where is the best place to get my jewellery clean?
It is best to get your jewellery cleaned from the place from which you bought it. Most jewellers typically offer one free clean typically after one year of purchase — and then an annual cleaning rate.
If you get your jewellery professionally cleaned by another jeweller, you may void your lifetime manufacturing warranty that may also come with your jewellery care package. It may also any returns policy that your jeweller may have in place.
Does gold tarnish? And how do you remove it?
The higher the karat of gold, the less likely it is to tarnish. But tarnishing is not inherently bad. Gold tarnishing is the process of slight corrosion of the surface. It is a dark discolouration of the gold — also called a tarnish film.
To remove surface tarnishing from your gold jewellery, follow these steps:
Add a few drops of mild, non-phosphate dishwashing liquid to warm water.
Use your fingers or a cotton swab to gently wipe the tarnished part with the mixture.
Avoid using toothpaste or baking soda, as they are too abrasive.
Dry your jewellery using a soft cotton cloth or let it air dry completely, even if it takes overnight.
Once dry, you can polish your jewellery with a soft cotton cloth or a jewellery polishing cloth to restore its shine.
Soap and water trumps most at home cleaning kits
Before you add a jewellery cleaner to your wishlist, give your jewellery a clean with warm soapy water and a polishing cloth. If that doesn’t work, take it into a professional jeweller. So whether it is rose gold or sterling silver, make sure to not use any cleaning solution or method that will be abrasive to your jewellery.
And if you would like professional advice, feel free to reach out to us and we will be more than happy go let you know how you should go about cleaning your jewellery piece.
Stay updated with the Four Words newsletter
We'll send practical advice, design guides and our latest creations.