How to Clean, Store, and Organize Jewelry
Everything you ever needed to know about tending to your treasure trove.
Is the top of your dresser a veritable graveyard of broken baubles, errant earrings, and tarnished trinkets? We tapped Tirath Kamdar, CEO of TrueFacet, an online destination for pre-owned jewelry and watches, to explain how to keep every type of jewelry in mint condition.
There’s nothing delicate about these sparkly stones. One of the hardest and most durable materials on earth, they’re also the easiest to clean. Kamdar advises using warm water with a few drops of dish soap. Let your jewelry soak for an hour or more to loosen any debris, then brush the tops, sides, and inside with a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush. Rinse with clean water, wrap in a paper towel, and shake for 10 seconds to knock water drops out of any nooks and crannies.
Unlike softer metals, like gold and platinum, Kamdar says cleaning silver requires a little grit—literally. Use a specialized silver cleaning cloth, which is slightly abrasive, or try a tiny dab of silver polish on a microfiber cloth.
Gold and Platinum:
Because of the soft, malleable nature of these metals, you can wipe them clean with a soft microfiber cloth, says Kamdar, but for a proper polish or to buff out any scratches, head to a local, reputable jeweler. (Don’t have one in your contacts? Check out jewelers.org for suggestions.)
Although you can buy special ultrasonic cleaners or make homemade tonics to clean gemstone jewelry, Kamdar advises against it. Some gemstones, like emeralds and opals, should never be treated with those types of solutions. If you’re in doubt, have a professional jeweler clean them instead.
One of the most delicate materials, the first rule of thumb here is, “Last on, first off.” Even the oils in your skin can eventually cause damage to pearls, so put them on last when getting dressed and take them off first thing once you’re back home, advises Kamdar. Never spray hairspray or perfume while wearing pearls, and use a soft, chamois cloth to rub them clean after each wear.
Since costume jewelry is usually made from brass, plated materials and synthetic gemstones that are glued in rather than set, your best bet is to try to keep your pieces clean at all times. Even water alone can loosen the glue and cause plating to oxidize or rust. If a costume piece must be cleaned, wipe it down with a soft, damp cloth, and dry immediately.
Always store diamonds separately from other pieces, warns Kamdar. They can scratch soft metals like gold and even other gemstones.
Sterling Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Gemstones:
A general rule of thumb: Store “like with like,” says Kamdar. Try to keep different types of metal separate to prevent scratching and tarnishing. If possible, it’s best to store each piece individually, either in a soft cloth bag or in its original box.
Pearls should be stored in a cloth-lined jewelry box, or wrapped in a soft cloth. Never hang pearls, as this can stretch and weaken their string over time.
Kamdar suggests storing costume jewelry by type—bracelets, necklaces, rings, and brooches can be kept together, respectively.
Out of Sight:
A hanging jewelry organizer like this one slides easily into your closet and converts into a travel jewelry roll.
To buy: $20, containerstore.com.
Hooks keep tangle-prone pieces—like necklaces and bracelets—easily accessible and knot-free, while the clear acrylic case protects against dust and other elements.
To buy: $22, containerstore.com.
The Little Pieces:
Stackable trays, like this one, allow you to store as many pieces as you own, each in a safe, separate compartment. A spare dresser drawer will keep them neatly out of eyesight, but still easily accessible.
To buy: $20, wayfair.com.
Want even more? Click here for extra tips on keeping your treasures tangle-free.