How to Clean Old Jewelry: Your Essential Guide

How to Clean Old Jewelry

All that glitters is gold! The global jewelry market is worth nearly $400 billion

One reason for this statistic is old jewelry. Jewelry from decades and centuries ago can still be worn and sold at markets. 

But you can’t just throw your dusty rings up for sale. If you want to make the most of your diamonds and gold, you need to know how to clean old jewelry. 

How can you identify what type of jewelry you have? What cleaners should you use? How can you remove dust and polish your rings and necklaces? 

Answer these questions and you can have jewelry as good as new in no time. Here is your quick jewelry cleaning guide.

Know the Metal and Stone Types

You may have many pieces of old jewelry. Do not clean all of them the same way, as metals have different chemical reactions in response to cleaning solutions. 

If you’re not sure what type of jewelry you have, you should go to a professional jeweler. They can give you advice on jewelry cleaning, and they can tell you how much your clean jewelry is worth. 

You can learn how to spot jewelry with your own eyes. However, you should keep in mind that some people paint jewelry in certain colors or add features to make it seem like a different type of jewelry.

Someone can paint a steel ring gold, making it appear like an authentic gold ring. If you’re uncertain, read a guide on identifying and cleaning your type of old jewelry. You can visit websites like for these guides and then contact experts. 

Remove Dust With a Soft Brush

You may not need to do much to let your jewelry sparkle. Take a close look at it with a magnifying glass and see if you notice any dust or debris. 

If you notice dust, you can use a small brush with soft bristles to remove it. Don’t scrub your jewelry too hard, as you risk breaking the bristles or scratching it. You can use a microfiber cloth, but you should avoid applying too much pressure with it.

If the dust is caked on, you can be a little more aggressive. You can make a solution by mixing together toothpaste or baking soda with water. 

You may need to let your jewelry rest in the solution for a few minutes. But do not let it rest for longer than that. Make sure you dry it thoroughly, as drops of water can damage your jewelry over time. 

Use Jewelry Cleaner

You can buy jewelry cleaning products from stores. But a basic cleaning like dish detergent can remove stains and scratches from gold and platinum jewelry. 

Place a few drops of dish detergent on a brush or cloth. Don’t apply too much. If your brush or cloth is soaked with dish detergent, you should get a new one, as too much detergent can discolor your jewelry. 

Smear the detergent on your jewelry gently. Let the detergent stay for a moment and then use a dry rag to remove it. If you’re worried about your jewelry being wet, you can let it air dry. 

For diamonds and gemstones, you should use a more powerful solution. You can find diluted ammonia online. Be very careful while handling an ammonia solution, as swallowing ammonia can lead to health problems. 

For pearls, you do not have to use any cleaner. The natural oils in your skin can rub on the pearls and clean them. If that doesn’t work, you can wipe them off with olive oil.

Keep Your Jewelry Dry

Never immerse your jewelry in water or a liquid cleaner. Moisture can damage metal, glass, and other materials. Mold and mildew can grow in moist environments and destroy your jewelry. 

After you’ve washed your piece, you should hang it on a clothesline or from a hook. Flip it upside down so any moisture on it will flow away and fall to the ground. 

If you live in a humid environment, you should take steps to protect your clean old jewelry from the moisture in your air. You should run a dehumidifier in any room where your jewelry is stored. You may want to store your items in a moisture-resistant box, particularly one made of plastic. 

If you wear makeup, put the jewelry on after you’ve applied your makeup. This will decrease the likelihood of the makeup rubbing off on your jewelry.

Polish Your Jewelry

Polishing your jewelry can remove excess moisture and make your jewelry sparkle. You can buy special clothes for polishing jewelry online, though you may be able to use a microfiber cloth.

To polish pearls and other small objects, you may want to use a makeup brush. Rub the brush on all surfaces so the sparkle seems consistent. 

You may want to avoid polishing your jewelry so you keep the patina on it. Many people like jewelry with patinas, and you may be able to sell them at higher prices. 

Figure Out How to Clean Old Jewelry

Learning how to clean old jewelry can be a little tricky. You need to identify what type of jewelry you have, as cleaners for one type can damage another type. Remove dust with a brush or soft cloth before you use a cleaner. 

For most pieces of jewelry, you can use cleaners you buy at jewelry stores. Once you’re done, you should dry your jewelry. Polish it with a dry cloth so it stays beautiful for years. 

Maintaining jewelry is about more than cleaning it. Read more guides to jewelry maintenance by following our coverage.

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BSV Staff

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