While the simplest method with the least ingredients is always the safest, there are more specific ways you can clean your jewelry at home, depending on its qualities.
Since gold jewelry is so popular, let’s review the best way to keep it shining like new in between visits to your jeweler.
Properties of Gold Jewelry
Pure gold is always 24 karat gold. If your piece is less than 24 karats, this indicates it’s mixed with other metals – called alloys – to increase its hardness and durability.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. The more active your lifestyle, the less pure gold you’ll want in your jewelry. Gold is a soft metal and is prone to scratching, so mixing it with 10 or more parts alloy will increase its longevity.
How to Clean Gold Jewelry
A jewelry cleaning solution specifically created for gold is a safe and effective way to keep your gold in tip-top shape. (Just make sure it indicates gold as an intended use!)
Without any commercial products, you can still maintain your shine at home following these steps:
1. Mix a bit of Dawn dish detergent in warm, not hot, water.
2. Add a few drops of ammonia.
3. Carefully brush with a new, baby-size soft toothbrush.
4. Place in lukewarm water to rinse.
5. Air dry or carefully towel-dry with paper towel or regular cloth.
Remember: gold is a soft metal. Be gentle during the brushing and drying processes.
Hazards to Avoid
Because of gold jewelry’s high chance of tarnish*, there are a couple specific substances to avoid:
Soap – Steer clear of any soap with unknown ingredients. Basic blue Dawn dish soap is fine, but remove your gold jewelry before showering to avoid accumulating a film from other body washes.
Chlorine – Chlorine, especially at high temperatures like in a hot tub, can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry. Remember to remove it when cleaning with chlorine bleach, too!
*While pure gold does not tarnish, almost all gold jewelry is an alloy, as mentioned above. Depending on the percentage of other metals mixed with the gold, there is chance for tarnish. Better safe than sorry!
Gold Jewelry with Colored Gemstones
Due to the characteristics of many colored gemstones, we advise asking your jeweler about the safest at-home cleaning method for any pieces with stones other than pure diamonds.
Many natural gemstones are treated or enhanced after extraction, impacting how you should clean your jewelry.
If you need a quick polish before you’ll have a chance to visit your jeweler, skip the ammonia and give your piece a quick dip in the soap and water mixture. This method is safe for almost all colored stone jewelry.
Visiting Your Jeweler
While the method described above is the best way to clean your gold jewelry at home, there’s no substitute for visiting your jeweler for a professional cleaning.
Your jeweler will know the proper procedures depending on the specific type of gemstone and metal, as well as check your item over for any damage. We always recommend a semi-annual visit to your local jeweler!
Editor's Note: This post was originally published November 28, 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.