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How to Clean Jewelry

Learn how to clean jewelry without damaging or compromising it with these tips from Marion Cage, including storing jewelry in the protective pouch it came in, such as the protective pouch from Marion Cage pictured here.

Jewelry is an investment you want to last a lifetime. Without proper care, jewelry can become dull, discolored, or even damaged. There are plenty of tips and tricks for cleaning all kinds of jewelry, from silver, gold, and vermeil to precious gems and other metals. But before you get started, you should learn how to clean jewelry without damaging or compromising it. At Marion Cage, we follow a number of best practices for cleaning jewelry that we are happy to share.

How to Clean Jewelry at Home

Between professional cleanings, you can clean your jewelry at home to keep it sparkling and sanitary. For jewelry you wear often, we recommend cleaning every other week. For jewelry that is more fragile or worn less often, we recommend a gentle cleaning as needed. If you have a piece that goes long periods without being used, be sure to clean it before putting it away, preferably in the protective pouch it came in when purchased.

To restore the matte finish on silver or gold jewelry or the oiled finish on wood jewelry, we recommend gently buffing with a fine-grade steel wool, such as #0000, which is available at most hardware stores. Avoid using chemicals, commercial cleaners, and polishing cloths on jewelry with a matte or textured finish, because they can compromise the finish on your jewelry. For more tips on how to clean jewelry, take a look at our material-specific recommendations below.

Gold Jewelry

Gold jewelry, such as this Offset Circle Ring in 14k yellow gold from Marion Cage, can be cleaned simply by using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth.Offset Circle Ring in 14k yellow gold

Gold jewelry does not tarnish and can be cleaned using warm, soapy water and a soft cloth. With rings and other gold jewelry that fit tightly against your skin, wait until each piece is dry before putting it back on.

Silver Jewelry

Silver jewelry, such as these "O" Drop Earrings in sterling silver from Marion Cage, can tarnish, which is why we do not recommend cleaning with water.“O” Drop Earrings in sterling silver

To clean silver jewelry, generously sprinkle dry baking powder onto a soft cloth and gently rub it against your silver. Afterward, shake off the powder and rinse or wipe jewelry clean with a soft cloth. Sterling silver will tarnish over time as it is increasingly exposed to the oxygen in the air. For especially tarnished pieces, we recommend using a silver cleaner that’s free of abrasives, such as Tarn-X.

Jewelry with a satin or textured finish will burnish, or become shinier, with wear. We recommend rubbing it with a 3M scrubby pad (available at most hardware stores) to restore its matte finish. If you purchased your silver jewelry from our store or website and need to restore its finish, contact Marion Cage and we can professionally restore it for a small fee.

Oxidized Silver Jewelry

Oxidized silver jewelry, such as this Small Point Scatter Necklace in sterling silver and oxidized silver from Marion Cage, should be cleaned using warm, soapy water or a soft cloth.Small Point Scatter Necklace in sterling silver and oxidized silver

Oxidized silver, or blackened silver, loses its finish over time and begins to show highlights of the true silver color underneath. To avoid removing the finish when you clean, use warm, soapy water or a soft cloth to remove fingerprints from oxidized silver pieces. If you purchased a piece of oxidized silver jewelry from Marion Cage, we offer professional reoxidizing for a small fee. Contact us today to learn more.

When to Get a Professional Cleaning

While these at-home cleaning methods are adequate for maintaining your jewelry between professional cleanings, they’re no substitution for regular inspections and cleanings from a jeweler. We recommend taking jewelry to a professional once or twice per year, depending on how frequently you wear it. Many professionals use ultrasonic cleaning, which can clean your jewelry more thoroughly than traditional methods by using ultrasonic vibrations to remove dirt from areas that cannot be reached by hand. There are a few kinds of jewelry that should not be exposed to ultrasonic cleaners, such as jewelry that contains soft gemstones, but the rest of your jewelry can be cleaned ultrasonically as often as you need without damaging it. When you bring your jewelry to a professional, it will not only be thoroughly cleaned, but inspected for any defects, such as broken or bent prongs, loose stones, or any other damaged parts. There may be pieces in your collection that aren’t worth the effort, but for any jewelry you’d like to last, it’s much better to clean and care for it regularly than to wait until there’s a problem.

Contact Marion Cage Today for Cleanings

Quality begins with fine craftsmanship. At Marion Cage, we stand by every piece that comes out of our New Orleans studio. We are always happy to answer any questions you may have about how to clean jewelry from Marion Cage. In addition to providing cleanings, we offer repairs and refurbishment on jewelry purchased in our store or from our website—sometimes free of charge. Contact us online, call us at 504-891-8848, or visit us at 3807 Magazine Street in New Orleans, LA.