The Ultimate Spring Cleaning Guide for your Jewellery

The time for Spring Cleaning is here and I thought I'd tackle how to properly clean your precious jewellery pieces.

When I first started collecting jewellery, I felt so intimidated when it came to cleaning and caring for my vintage and antique pieces and was worried that I would accidentally damage a piece.

So I began researching and finding out as much as possible about proper jewellery care because being a custodian of rescued jewellery pieces, I have to ensure they stay in optimum condition for me to enjoy and for generations to come.

And how do I do that? Read on!


I make sure I remove all my jewellery prior to cleaning, manual labour, housework, bathing and swimming. (Chlorine and bleach can react to gold and damage stones)

My jewellery is worn last, after my beauty routine, to avoid exposing them to cosmetics, hair products and perfume. 

Remember for pearls (and most jewellery pieces for that matter): Last thing on, first thing off!


Using warm water with mild dish soap and gently scrubbing with a soft bristle toothbrush is the safest way to clean most rings with gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc.

Always clean your jewellery in a bowl to prevent the piece or a loose stone from accidentally falling into the drain in the sink!

Do not over-polish or remove the patina that had taken decades or even more than a century (or more!) to develop. Patina gives character to vintage and antique jewellery and is something that is aesthetically pleasing and sought after by collectors. Instead, a light cleaning in soapy water with a soft toothbrush for pieces that can be wet or a light wipe down with a damp cloth for delicate pieces will suffice.

My current go to cleaner is Dr Bronner's Mild Unscented Castile Soap and Top Purple which is gentle, biodegradable, and can be used on most gemstones. They have a chart listing which gemstones are safe to use their product on. 

An ultrasonic cleaner is a reliable way to thoroughly clean precious metals such as gold/platinum, diamonds, and some other untreated or softer gemstones, however they should not be used on jewellery with porous gemstones such as emeralds, opals, pearls, coral, tortoise shell, ivory, shell cameos, and jet. These should be wiped gently using a soft damp jewellery cloth. Avoid using the ultrasonic cleanser with your fragile antique jewelry!

Be mindful that low frequency sound waves are used to remove accumulated dirt and grime which may also cause stones to loosen from their mountings or chip their girdle if the stones are set close to each other.

Foil back & cameo jewellery or jewellery with hair should not be submerged in water. Carefully wipe the top of the stones with a soft damp cloth and ensure no moisture seeps into the mounting as water can damage the foil and discolor it, making the gemstone appear cloudy and dull.

Steam Cleaners are a great way to sanitize everyday pieces and uses a blast of hot steam to remove any dirt left behind from the ultrasonic cleaning process. The high temperature kills any bacteria or germs that might be trapped in the crevices of the mounting / setting.

Stones such as moonstone, paste stones, and amber are susceptible to temperature changes and should not be steam cleaned while unheated gemstones such as sapphires or rubies should skip the steam cleaner too, as the colour and value of the gemstone can be changed!

Onyx and Opals require special care as they are porous and absorb liquids easily.

Onyx stones should not be submerged in water. Use a soft damp cloth or jewellery brush dipped in water and clean carefully around the stone and try to avoid rubbing it as it scratches fairly easily. 

Extreme temperature changes can damage opals so try to wash opals in room temperature water.

Solid opals can be cleaned by giving it a little swish in water with mild, unscented detergent, a quick rinse with clean water and wiping dry with a soft cloth.

Opal doublets or triplets should not be submerged in water and should just be wiped clean with a soft damp cloth as submerging them may loosen the glue that holds the separate pieces together.


Each piece of jewellery should be stored separately where possible as harder gemstones can scratch softer gems, causing damage to the stones / setting. They can be kept in individual jewellery boxes, in multiple jewellery storage organizers, or in soft cloth pouches.

Separate storage also helps prevent bracelets and necklaces from getting tangled up.

Periodically examine your rings for signs of loose stones, bent or worn prongs and send them to your jeweller if repair / professional cleaning is required. Every six months is recommended especially for frequently worn jewellery.

Knowing the materials of your jewellery will allow you to make informed decisions when deciding the safest way to care for your pieces so get to know them well!