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Thursday, February 9, 2012

172

Ask a Clean Person: This Valentine's Day, Say It With Jewelry Cleaner

I am like a magpie: I love shiny things. I love my shiny, shiny jewelry, but I hate that it gets dirty. I have a lot of silver jewelry and I hate cleaning it with those awful jewelry-cleaning cloths, because they always make my hands feel weird afterwards, and THERE MUST BE A BETTER WAY. And what about my silver jewelry with stones in it? I have this gorgeous silver ring with a tiny chip of emerald in it, and I'm always afraid I'm going to hurt it somehow by cleaning it.

And what about other metals! Does my gold jewelry need to be cleaned? What about my gold jewelry with stones in it? And what about all the rest of my jewelry that wasn't expensive — my cheap but well-loved jewelry? I have this silver choker that I've been wearing for mumblemumble years, and it used to be bright and shiny, but now it's kind of dull and ugly. Is there any way to restore it?

Help me! I want to be as shiny and clean and sparkly as possible at all times!

You can't see me right now, but this is what I'm doing: CLAP CLAP SHINY THINGS! Do you remember waaay back when I started this column I told you how I loved polishing silver? The same totally applies to cleaning jewelry for me. Mostly because it's so easy to get such an obvious reward, and Lord, couldn't we all use a cheap and easy reward in our lives?

All of your metal jewelry can and should be cleaned, and in a sec I'll take you through a few different ways to do so. Whenever a piece has a stone in it, however, you do need to be a little bit more careful. Hard stones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires can be brightened up with most jewelry cleaners, but soft gems like pearls or opals need special treatment. Here's a handy chart that explains which stones are tougher than others and what cleaning methods to use and to avoid. Here's another one, in case you crave variety in your life.

But back to your regular old metal jewelry. Since you said you hate the jewelry-cleaning cloths, you'll probably be much happier with some sort of dip. You can buy commercial jewelry cleaner like Connoisseurs, or you can make your own. Look! There's even a recipe for jewelry cleaner on food.com! I don't know why, but that tickles my funny bone in just the right spot. There are, of course, many variations on DIY jewelry cleaner including hot water & vinegar (1 part vinegar to 3 parts water, soak for 12-24 hours); hot water & baking soda (1 part baking soda to 5 parts water, soak 8-12 hours); dish soar & lemon juice (1 teaspoon soap to 3 teaspoons juice, soak 5-8 hours); and plain old white toothpaste and an old/soft toothbrush (scrub gently for 5-10 minutes, rinse with warm water). After cleaning, dry the jewelry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

In addition to gold and silver, I wear a lot of copper/plain ol’ metal jewelry (that I love!), but it starts to reek of metal, and then my hands smell like metal and I don’t like wearing the jewelry anymore. Is there any way to get rid of the smell or clean the jewelry?

There sure is!

The easiest thing to do, unless you're anything like our friend the magpie up thar, is use jewelry cleaning cloths. They'll serve to both make your jewelry shiny (CLAP CLAP SHINY THINGS!) and to take the smell out. You can also use any one of the DIY cleaners mentioned above, as they will also serve to remove unpleasant metal-y smells.

So, I am one of those people who wears the same pair of post earrings almost constantly. Every once in a while, I'll decide I want something different and swap them out. But whenever this happens, I get to see all the yuck that has built up on the backs. It's gross! Seriously! Also confusing, because I wear the silly things in the shower so they get soaped/shampooed all the time. But anyway, what do I do? I've tried dropping them in a cup of hydrogen peroxide a few times, and that has sorta worked. Unfortunately, I am now a college student in a dorm, and have no peroxide. My entire cleaning collection consists of laundry detergent, vinegar, and one of those emergency stain pen things. Save me from gunky earring backs!

I have an easy solution for you that only requires hot water and  a soft cloth or towel, but first let's sit in the formal living room for a talk about earring gunk. The thing is, I am ABSOLUTELY a person who wears her studs for eons without taking them out, but it's a pretty bad practice and here's why: while you're busy telling yourself that they're getting clean they're, um, not getting clean. In fact, what's happening is that your dead skin and assorted forms of soap scum are building up on those earrings as a result of wearing them without a break.

The great news here is that it's really easy to get that gunk clean, so here's what you're going to do: either soak the earrings in a cup of hot or warm water (if they're softer stones like pearls don't use hot hot water), or just run them under the tap for a brief spell. If you go the tap route, it's not a bad idea to plug the drain so that you don't run the risk of losing your grip on your baubles and having them go down the drain. Once you've given them a thorough soaking, take the post of one earring and use it to scrape the gunk from the backing. Then use a soft cloth (an old t-shirt or sock works well here) to wipe away any excess from the backing and the earring itself. Done and done.

So I have this silver bracelet with a few silver charms on it, and I thought it looked fine. But then the owner of the nail salon I go to told me I should clean it by putting dish soap in a pot of boiling water and boiling the bracelet in the soapy, boiling water for a few minutes.  Can that be accurate? I certainly don't want to experiment with my bracelet!

Go ahead and experiment, you have my permission! Basically what she told you to do is a variation on the jewelry-cleaning methods we discussed upcolumn. The only thing to be very careful with when cleaning charm bracelets is to ensure that none of the charms contain stones — particularly soft ones — that can be damaged from the heat of the boiling water. Similarly, a number of my charms are enamel (the Big Apple on my New York charm bracelet is coated in red enamel, for example)(also are we going to GIRL OUT over how much we love charm bracelets? Can we, can we???), which need to be treated very carefully. So check your gemstone chart before going to town with any one cleaning method. When in doubt, it's probably helpful to know that most finer jewelry stores (so, like, not Claire's) offer jewelry cleaning services that aren't terribly costly.

Previously: Do Not Get Rid of Your Jeans, They Are Disgusting But Fixable.

Jolie Kerr is not paid to endorse any of the products mentioned in this column, but she sure would be very happy to accept any free samples the manufacturers care to send her way! Are you curious to know if she's answered a question you have? Do check out the archives, listed by topic. More importantly: is anything you own dirty?

Photo by Studio DMM Photography, Designs & Art, via Shutterstock



172 Comments / Post A Comment

laurel

"Hat"

femme cassidy

@laurel "We thought of 'authentic Native American headdress' before we thought of 'hat.'"

Judith Slutler

Soooo I always thought that you shouldn't get pearls wet at all, because they gradually lose their lustre due to that? Is that a myth, should I be dunking my pearl earrings in water every now and then?

Also, you guys, there is this really cute silk button down shirt at the second hand store on my street. But it has what look like a few tiny grease spots on the front, and I think some mildew spots on the back. Lost cause, or not? I really want a mint green silk shirt :(

Porn Peddler

@Emmanuelle Cunt Getting them a little wet should be fine, just don't buff them or anything. It's a bad idea to frequently get them really wet though, for other reasons. As far as lustre though...I straight up chipped a few layers off my black pearl and it's shiny under there, too!

Rana Gheissari@twitter

@Emmanuelle Cunt Getting pearls wet is not the problem, it's the silk the pearls are strung on. Getting the silk wet isn't as much of a problem either-just take care not to pull on the necklace while the knots are still wet so they don't get permanently stretched out. The nacre is very thin on most pearls, underneath the nacre is an unshiny bead. You can damage the nacre with perfume, hairspray, and gunk build up (dead skin, hairstuff, lotion). Pearls are the last thing on and the first thing off- if you notice anything on the surface when you take them off, just run them through a soft cloth. Although people will tell you to restring every two years, my rule is to look at the knots, if you see any that look frayed or stretched, that's when they should be restrung.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@Emmanuelle Cunt Check the last paragraph in this comment? From a former professional jewelry salesperson. (The rest of the paragraphs are about *buying* pearls if anyone is interested in that.)

candybeans

@Emmanuelle Cunt I brought my gorrrgeous cream and mint silk dress to a drycleaners with big ol' grease splotches on the front and back (don't wear your pretty silks to a wine and food walk, dummy), and it came home perfectly clean! this was after months of sitting with stain, but without having tried to get the stains out myself. Can't speak to the mildew, however (at least, not in silk). Just in case it helps! a mint green silk shirt sounds lovely.

sceps yarx

@candybeans I've been wicked into pale pistachio lately. The color, not the pudding. Oh, what the hell, the pudding too.

olivebee

This column read my mind! I was just sadly contemplating how faded/coppery-looking all my sterling silver & metal jewelry was getting and wondering if normal jewelry-cleaner (like Connoisseurs, which I bought for my wedding rings) would work on it, but too afraid to attempt it.

olivebee

@olivebee Also, LW2 - that metal smell is AWFUL, and I literally cannot focus on anything when I'm wearing a necklace that smells like that.

dtowngirl

@olivebee This column read my mind too. I'm gonna be cleaning my jewels tonight!

Ophelia

My cheap and easy reward is your mom!

couldn't resist.

Also, anyone else use windex to clean a diamond ring? I was told this was OK and now am worried about it.

Party Falcon

@Ophelia Me too! My Mama Falcon-in-law is SUPER into the good stuff, jewelery wise and told me it was okay.

But her recommended daily jewelery cleaning routine? Too gross for words. She takes her rings off after brushing her teeth and uses her wet toothbrush with its hint of toothpaste residue and scrubs down all of her rings.

Ophelia

@Party Falcon If my rings weren't so disgusting (see this morning's earlier dog-barf post), I would consider this. I actually have a separate toothbrush that lives under the sink that I use to clean them (although not daily...that never even occurred to me).

wharrgarbl

@Party Falcon What? No, seriously, what?

DianaPrince

@Ophelia According to the gem cleaning chart, you can clean diamonds any old way you like. They are indestructible.

Hellcat

@Party Falcon OH MY GOODNESS! Why doesn't she just have another toothbrush for this? Did she spend all her hard-earned cash on the jewelry itself? Or does she have an endless supply of toothbrushes and throws each one out after the nightly jewelry bath?

cc
cc

@Ophelia i've heard so many weird solutions, and then i googled how often you're supposed to and apparently my wedding rings are filthy vagrants compared to some of these newlyweds. i just use it as an excuse to go browse the jewelry store all the time, and get my ring steam cleaned while i'm there. i tried using a toothbrush but i got paranoid about scratches (? i'm probly crazy). i've heard of one part ammonia to six parts water for diamonds, but ugh ammonia makes me so dizzy :P to the jewelry store!

Jinxie

@Hellcat That's what I'm wondering. Surely she doesn't use the same toothbrush to clean her TEETH after it's been used to clean her jewelry?

Party Falcon

@Hellcat She thinks she's being clever and efficient. The toothbrush is already warm and wet(gross), you don't really need THAT much toothpaste to clean with and .... I don't know, you guys. I really don't.

She really thinks that I should do this too. And that I do. And I haven't told her I don't. And then she gets all judgey about the state of my rings and then she makes me go with her to HER jeweler to get them cleaned for real and to have all the stones checked, just in case, "because I take such terrible care of my BEAUTIFUL rings."

Party Falcon

@Jinxie Well, technically, in her mind, the teeth go first and then the jewelery. No matter that then logically the teeth are after the jewelery the next day.

Hellcat

@Party Falcon So she believes, in essence, that whatever gets onto the toothbrush from the jewelry expires with the passing of time, like a fresh start? New Day = Clean Toothbrush?

I suppose there are way grosser things in the world -- in fact, I am certain of this (says a girl who used a strand of her own hair to get a speck of pepper out of her teeth the other night). Still, my mind boggles!

Party Falcon

@Ophelia I'm sure it will amuse all of you to know she is a dedicated Sonicare user. Because it's good for her teeth, sure, but also because those fancy jewelery cleaners use sonic waves.

Ophelia

@Party Falcon I love your Mama Falcon-In-Law. You know, I bet using an electric toothbrush (I mean, mine is Colgate or something) would totally work. Again, with a DIFFERENT brush head than the one I am currently using to brush my teeth.

Party Falcon

@Hellcat She has spent ... an obscene amount on shiny, shiny stuff. She is SO into jewelery. However, nothing but convenience and expedience is keeping her from buying a separate toothbrush.

She refused to let Party Eagle go ring shopping by himself and apparently (god I wish I could have seen it) straight up pulled a loupe out of her pocket to inspect the diamonds he was looking at and then demanded a microscope. I LOVE Mama PFil.

DillyBean

@Party Falcon According to a silver-cleaning guide I recently read in an effort to determine if there was an easier way to polish silver (there is not), you should never use a toothbrush or toothpaste on silver because silver is so soft. So...the toothbrush thing is gross and ALSO bad for silver.

Craftastrophies

@Party Falcon I would have thought toothpaste might not be good? It's pretty abrasive. I have a night guard to stop me grinding and clenching (GUYS I AM RELAXED WHAT I'M FINE) and I was told not to ever use toothpaste on it, as it's too abrasive. It's plastic, not gold, but I mean... plastic is probably harder? You can't bend plastic with your teeth (I TRY EVERY NIGHT) and you can do that to gold, so...

I have an electric toothbrush* and then a regular one that I don't put toothpaste on, I just wet it and clean my plate. It's hardly more effort. And then I don't get whatever the hell got caught under my rings the day before in my mouth. Oh, god. I am the least germophobe I know, but that is making me feel ill.

*I thought they were rubbish, but my dentist recommended it because it has a small head that can get to my wisdom teeth, which I need to keep because I had a molar out. And you guys, it's the BEST. I left it at my boyfriends for a week the other day and it was terrible.

MsChilePepper

@Party Falcon I hate to contradict La Jolie, but NO NO NO, IX-NAY on the OOTHPASTE-TAY! Toothpaste has wee bits of grit in it and they WILL scratch your metals and your stones.

Also, that's a really good way to transfer something nasty to your mouth and directly into your bloodstream. Ugh.

Best way to clean silver is to line a glass or plastic container with aluminum foil. Put in your silver stuff (works for serving pieces, too), sprinkle liberally with baking soda, and then pour boiling water over the whole mess. Let it sit a while, rinse with warm water, and Bob's your uncle, shiny clean jewelry!

Party Falcon

I have not finished this, but y'all? Party Falcon needs to get rid of her engagement/wedding rings, they are disgusting. Seriously. You should see the things these talons get into. Besides marshmallows.

laurel

@Party Falcon Like greasy grimey gopher guts?

Ophelia

@laurel Fifteen tons of 'em!!

Scandyhoovian

@Party Falcon Just avoid the mutiliated monkey meat. That stuff will stink your jewelry right up.

The Lady of Shalott

I am here to out myself as LW#1, and EEEE JOLIEEEEE!!!!!!! I'm going to go on a jewelry-cleaning bonanza today!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OhShesArtsy

@The Lady of Shalott I can't touch jewelery cleaning cloths either, they feel AWFUL. This is particularly bad because I should be using one to polish my flute so when I play it (poorly), people will think about how shiny it is and how nice I look with my fancy flute posture.

Confession: I have the dullest flute in the world.

SarahP

@The Lady of Shalott I use the shining clothes, but I thought I was the only one who hates the way my hands feel afterwards! (No one else in my family noticed.)

SarahP

@SarahP Eek I said "clothes" instead of "cloths!" what have I done

oh, disaster

@The Lady of Shalott My jewelry and I thank you for asking!

Craftastrophies

@OhShesArtsy Wear gloves while you do? Or you can get a microfibre cloth (an optometrist will probably give them to you for free) and dip them in one of the above cleaning solutions?

They totally feel gross. Also, I feel like 'dull flute' should be a euphemism for something.

OhShesArtsy

I miss charm bracelets. I stopped wearing mine because I'm a jewelery monster who breaks/loses anything nice.

Judith Slutler

@OhShesArtsy Yeah I break bracelets that aren't bangles made out of one piece of metal / plastic / whatevs. Oh well!

cc
cc

@OhShesArtsy i want to love them but i despise things hanging on my wrists (except bangles at the beach). which SUCKS cause my fav jewelry store has the cutiest little ones and my husband even asked "are you SURE you dont like charm bracelets?" yes i am sure :( they are so cute and -----CHARM-ing---- but ugh get them off of my hands!

OhShesArtsy

@Emmanuelle Cunt My wedding ring is a solid peice of titanium with a stripe or silver in the middle. I don't wear my engagement ring, the tines holding in the stones are already damaged :(

Ophelia

@OhShesArtsy I somehow managed to squash my wedding band (plain platinum, pretty thick), and when I took it to the jeweler to be fixed, he was totally flabbergasted. I still don't know how it happened. Clearly I should've gone for titanium.

OhShesArtsy

@Ophelia Warnings about titanium: It cannot be resized. NEVER WEAR IT AROUND HEAVY EQUIPMENT! If it squashes onto your finger, you will lose that finger! You will have to buy a man's ring and have it special ordered small, the jeweler may look at you oddly.*

*The one I ordered it from was really cool. The lady who was there when I picked it up kept asking if I was SURE it was the right ring/right size/etc.

The nice thing about it? Mine was super cheap but doesn't look cheap. Titanium isn't considered a precious metal :)

Alixana

@Ophelia I have three mysterious gouges in my wedding band that I have somehow acquired in the last week in spite of doing NOTHING interesting with my hands. I don't understand it.

spanglepants

@OhShesArtsy Quite a few Etsy sellers do titanium wedding bands, and not just in more masculine styles/ sizes. Just in case, you know, you want another one someday..

Ophelia

@OhShesArtsy That is both fantastic and totally terrifying.

Craftastrophies

@cc Me, too. I can't wear rings, bracelets or watches. I am Special and Delicate. I lost so many rings and watches because they would get irritating and I'd take them off and then... well, I can't have nice things, is all. I used to wear a nurse's watch on my belt loop. I was so pleased when mobile phones with clocks on became a thing.

I really want to like rings, but I CAN'T. I can wear leather cuffs, except I can't find ones to fit my fat wrists and also the ones with studs are illegal here. The only other time I did wrist ornaments was when I did exams in uni. I had a bunch of cheapo bead ones that I would bring to give me something to fiddle with. I think better when I'm fiddling. (I'll give you that setup for free.) Aw, now I miss all those junky bright shiny plastic things!

Achyvi

@sparklepants Definitely look at etsy if you want a titanium ring! I got my wedding ring there (because I am allergic to basically every metal ever), and while it's not fancy, it's still attractive and would not be judged as A Man's Ring like it would if I had gone to a local place (because it's not! It's delicate and purple!).

tortietabbie

@cc Arrggghhh I'm the same way! I can't even stand sleeves that fit close around my wrists. Everything I own is stretched out from being shoved up to my elbows.

sceps yarx

@Achyvi I'm allergic to every metal ever too! Like, even regular gold and silver. In college I put a silver stud in my nose and my nose hole ate away at it and made a little tarnish tattoo around itself. Gah! Thankfully, I found an Etsy designer who makes raw Niobium nose studs. Apparently Niobium is completely non-reactant to the human body, so they use it in pacemakers.

elysian fields

Jesus. I almost barfed in my lap while reading about "earring back gunk."
This is why I don't have pierced ears. (Well, that, and my fear of needles.)

spanglepants

@elysian fields I don't have pierced ears, either! We are quite a rare subspecies, are we not? (I'm actually seriously considering getting mine done, though, because earrings are preeetty.)

AmeliaBadelia

@elysian fields Eeee I don't have mine pierced either, but I have come so close so many times (usually after a break up when I'm like... let's do something CRAZY! Like pierce my ears!!!) I love jewelry, so it seems like something I'd like but I also sorta like being the only girl people who doesn't have pierced ears? This sounds weirder now that I type it...

AmeliaBadelia

@AmeliaBadelia Uh yikes. That last line should be "the only girl people know who doesn't have pierced ears.

Dr Clownius

@elysian fields OMG i get so many weird looks when i tell people my ears aren't pierced. why is this such a big deal to people??
there's just something... creepy/gross about it to me? one time i watched two girls swap the earrings they were wearing and i thought i was going to throw up. but i have weird sensory issues with jewelry in all forms, though.

PistolPackinMama

@elysian fields

My ear grew over the back of my earring once when I was about 8. I take mine out every night now, because... no. No, never again.

null

@PistolPackinMama This happened to me, too! They did a sloppy ass job of removing it though, I have this weird little nub of flesh that sticks out the front of my left lobe.

DillyBean

@sparklepants I got my ears pierced just a few years ago (at 27ish). It kind of sucked, in part because I'm a side sleeper and I just couldn't get used to not sleeping without a recently-pierced ear smashed up against my pillow. [SIGH] It also got infected once, which was embarrassing. And everyone will tell you to get your ears pierced at the mall, which...is probably more reasonable advice if you're in sixth grade? And don't know what an autoclave is? Or hepatitis? I went to a reputable tattoo and piercing place.

I love it now though so, so much. Especially because I wear a lot of turtlenecks and that limits your jewelry options.

piggie

@elysian fields Oh, I totally almost barfed reading that. I got my ears pierced as a kid because my sister wanted me to because our mom wouldn't let her get hers done until I did. Anyway, I let them grow over almost immediately, because earrings were the grossest thing of all time.

Craftastrophies

@PistolPackinMama Now THAT made me almost barf. This almost happened to me, but I caught it just in time. For ages I'd only wear little hoops, that I could spin round and round while I was thinking, because apparently my ears have wolverine-like regenerative powers. Even now I can't wear a stud for more than two days without it getting sore.

Or maybe I just need better-quality earings? Hmmm. Being a grown person is hard and expensive.

@Dr Clownius ugh! Sharing earings is GROOOSSSSS. Also, sensory issues represent! I like having pierced ears because studs are the only form of jewellery I can reliably wear for more than three hours without freaking out and taking it off.

Megasus

@PistolPackinMama NONONONONONO!!!

TeresaOtter

@DillyBean I felt the exact same way about getting my ears piercede (at 24 for me). I also didn't want some 18 year old at Claire's piercing my ears with a 6 year old waiting behind me.

EpWs

@everyone LADIES AND/OR GENTLEMEN. Please do not ever (again) get your ears pierced with a piercing gun. They are bad news bears for your ears. If you want to get your ears (or anythings) pierced, by all means do it, earrings are pretty, but please get it done at a tattoo/piercing parlor by someone who is not a teenager and does know what they're doing. It will work out better for you and your ears, both at the time of piercing and in the future, promise!

This is my new username

@elysian fields but, what exactly is wrong with a piercing gun? How is the result different from getting it done at a piercing palor?

Party Falcon

PEARLS!!!! I should totally submit this question. What do you do about the silk strand? It gets dirty too! And gets gross hair wrapped around it from the nape of your neck. But you can't get the gross hair off!!

Pearl necklaces are my thing, y'all. So many and soooo gross.

Ophelia

@Party Falcon I think you just get them re-strung every decade or so? But I hardly ever wear mine, so that might not be feasible if yours get gross faster than that.

wharrgarbl

@Party Falcon Tweezers for the hair, well-diluted woolite + soft toothbrush that is not the one you still use on your teeth for the dirt?

Ophelia

@wharrgarbl From now on, I think Jolie needs to have a disclaimer in her column that the brushes/clothes/etc that one uses for cleaning should not also be used to wash faces/teeth/etc. I'm still kind of reeling over this, too.

meganmaria

@Party Falcon "Pearl necklaces are my thing, y'all. So many and soooo gross"

The dirty joke writes itself.

wharrgarbl

@Ophelia It's not "toxo cysts in your eyeball" horrible, but I am still sitting here cringing and squirming a little and there's no way to unread it.

Party Falcon

@Ophelia Right? I mean, I respect MamaFalcon-in-Law and can't bring myself to call her on it, but so so so disgusting. So many germs. Mouth germs, ring germs, just... NO.

Upside? I guess? She is the sparkliest person I know. Glitters when she talks with her hands, for reals.

Party Falcon

@meganmaria I know. I was going to disclaimer that, but Party Falcon loves a good time, as it were.

Ophelia

@wharrgarbl After today, the things I'm thankful for include:
- I went to the eye doctor last week, and already know that there are no toxo cysts in my eyeballs;
- I do not clean my disgusting rings with the same toothbrush I use on my teeth;
- I am not the only person who has cleaned up animal gunk this morning, and probably not even the grossest.

monicamcl

@Party Falcon You should have your pearls restrung every two years; every year if you wear them a lot. Don't clean them with water because that weakens the string - just swipe them with a clean cloth and keep all perfumes, lotions, and basically ANYTHING away from them.

Craftastrophies

@Party Falcon The billboard near my work had a bible verse on it last week. This morning I noticed that someone has ripped it down, so the last add is showing. It was a druex add, of a lady's torso draped in pearl necklaces (which... makes no sense? I mean, surely their product is for preventing that? I digress). Except they only ripped the middle, so it says 'durex, for pleasure' and then the bible verse number underneath.

I laughed.

Party Falcon

Fantastic! And yet? Really durex?

SarahDances

But what about watches? I wear a watch every day and the metal link band starts to get gross, but I'm afraid to clean it because I don't want to mess up the actual watch movement. Anyone?

Porn Peddler

@SarahDances I just take my watch to a jeweler to get cleaned so they can take the bracelet off and clean it without the watch part. Some jewelers will whine about having to take the bracelet off (wahhh two screws) but you can def fine jewelers who will do it for free in like, three minutes. I don't even have words for how disgusting my watch bracelet is right now, I don't even want to know myself.

City_Dater

@SarahDances

Same as cleaning a bracelet, only don't submerge it in anything. I clean mine with a little toothpaste and a soft cloth: rub the toothpaste around a little, note the grey gunk building up on the band, use a damp corner of the cloth to wipe the grey gunk away.

If a jewelry issue can't be solved with toothpaste or a visit to the re-stringing guy, I'm never going to wear the item in question. So most days I am only wearing a watch.

mlle.gateau

Jolie! What about my gorgeous costume jewelry that has green on it? Because I wore it in the summer and it was hot and I got kind of sweaty? Is my jewelry revolting? Do I have to get rid of it?!

Alli525

@mlle.gateau I don't know about how to clean it after the fact, but every time I get a piece of costume jewelry, I immediately get some clear nail polish and coat the inside (two coats for rings!) ... I haven't had a discoloration problem since.

ilikemints

@Alli525 This is such a good idea!!

Porn Peddler

You guys, stop letting your pearls get wet with any frequency whatsoever, and don't wear them in the winter!!! (Unless they are strung pearls, or set very securely in metal claws.) A lot of pearls are mounted on a metal spike with some glue, and the constant changes in temperature will actually weaken the bond of the glue and eventually your pearl is going to fall out and oh my god where did that scary spike come from and where did my pearl go? One of my only pieces of "real" jewelry is a white gold ring with a bunch of bitsy diamonds (like I wouldn't even mention them if they didn't make it a little spiky and thus a great punchin' ring) and a single black pearl, and that sucker has been through some major shit. I now know it can't be worn in the winter, even though it breaks my heart to put it away when it gets cold- I'd wear it every single day if I could (but obviously, doing that taught me that pearl glue + temperature changes = pearl falling off)

But guys, silver choker? My silver choker is my most badass piece of jewelry, and I polished it recently, and oh my god oh my god.

Ophelia

@Third Wave Housewife That's why that happens? So good to know! I have a bunch of earringless backs, and loose pearls, hanging out in my jewelry box, but I never thought about there being preventative measures for this!!

Porn Peddler

@Ophelia I assume the glue weakens over time too, and that it's not a bad idea to get them re-glued from time to time, but my pearl fell off at least twice before I found out about this, and it almost fell off another time before that, but I had brought it to a jeweler to get cleaned and he was like "your pearl is falling off" so that was that...

erinzyme

@Third Wave Housewife That shit has happened to me so many times that I have completely given up on real pearl studs. I bought a pair of fakies for ~$2 about five years ago, and they're hanging on like little plastic champions. They look just like the real thing (unless someone gets waaaay closer to my ear than decency would allow), and if one does fall off, who cares? They were $2.

Judith Slutler

@Third Wave Housewife This blows my mind, I have pearl earrings that my dad got me at a night market in China and the glue has survived ALL kinds of mistreatment... I swear I don't wear them overnight, or in the sauna, or while showering anymore, but I got them when I was 16, soooo...

@erinzyme I do the $2 pearl earrings too, because I wear them ALL THE TIME (i.e. I only wear pearl studs ever), and I don't like the idea of wearing super fancy expensive earrings every day. So I wear whatever I find at Marshall's and nobody ever knows the difference, and if they do... I don't care.

Party Falcon

@S. Elizabeth but the beautiful, lovely weight of real pearls! Don't you miss it?

@Party Falcon Yes. But I'm one of those people who will totally do things like wear a nice watch in the pool or get my earring pulled out by a horse (true story, circa October 2000), so I like to do damage control and wear cheap ones on a day-to-day basis.

monicamcl

Yes! All of this! Yay! Also, if you have a piece of jewelry that has a matte finish, always use a dip. Matte finish is very shallow, so if you polish too hard with a cloth you can buff the matte away and leave a shiny spot.

And when it comes to antique jewelry, always err on the side of caution... If you really MUST clean something, be as gentle as humanly possible. And it's best to stay away from professional jewelers for cleaning. The ultrasonic cleaners they use can seriously damage some antique pieces and/or stones, so if you get a salesperson who doesn't realize this, your jewelry could be destroyed.

leastimportantperson

@monicamcl I just had a crappy experience with a professional jeweler and totally blamed myself. This is comforting to read.

monicamcl

@leastimportantperson Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that. Not all jewelers have experience with old pieces, so if you need something repaired or cleaned I always recommend that you go to a local antique dealer and ask who they use themselves.

SuperMargie

If I learned NOTHING from my years in the trenches at Claire's Boutique back in the 80's it is that you NEVER, EVER leave your earrings in your ears without switching them out or cleaning them every week. Seriously, I have come across horrific car wrecks that cannot hold a candle to some 8th grader's gunky sterling silver stud that has been sitting untouched for the better part of a year.

Porn Peddler

@SuperMargie Ear smegma is the most disgusting thing known to man. Period.

Jinxie

@Third Wave Housewife Aside from the ear smegma (which, gag) - isn't it just plain not comfortable to have earrings in all the time? How do you talk on the phone or lay on your side to sleep if you've got an earring post digging into the side of your head? Owie.

Hellcat

@SuperMargie Does this apply to silver (real) hoops too? They're the hollow kind with the really thin wire part that goes through the piercing and into the hole on the other end of the hoop. I never take them out (on purpose) and it seems like it's all good...

SuperMargie

@Hellcat Take them out and wipe them down on a regular basis. You want to make sure no hair gets twisted on the post and into your hole because jesusmaryjoseph it can get nasty.

Hellcat

@SuperMargie Thanks, lady. When I accidentally yank them out when I wash my gnarly hair or when I catch one on the damn hell-ass towel, I usually say "fuck it" and take out both and clean them. But I'll try to remember to do it deliberately now. Plus, I should take care of them; they are the best and they remind me of my trip to Buenos Aires.

Scandyhoovian

@Third Wave Housewife EAR SMEGMA. Eww, what a phrase. I don't know how people can go eons without cleaning that, though, because ear smegma has this smell that just puts me right off the offending smegmariffic jewelry until I've cleaned it.

PistolPackinMama

@SuperMargie When I was about 8, the back of my ear GREW OVER THE EARRING POST/GRIP.

Take your earrings out and clean them, people. Do not end up in the emergency room with a doc having to surgically remove your earring.

anachronistique

@SuperMargie HORROR STORY: when I got my first set of ear piercings I was a dumbass kid and didn't really know how to take care of them, so my super-long hair wound up twisted and knotted into the backs of the earrings and gunked up with smegma and the piercing scabs, and my dad had to take off the backs with his needlenose pliers.

dinos

@SuperMargie Oh yes, always take those things out every day or else you will be living an EARRING HORROR STORY.

(This is my favorite gross internet story, but be warned, it is really gross.)

The Lady of Shalott

@dinos I am actually a little bit relieved at that story. I thought it was going to be SO MUCH WORSE and involve a trip to the hospital to release pus and ear garbage all over the emergency room.

@Jinxie: I don't know, I guess I just get used to it? Like, the earrings I've had in my second holes have probably been in there for six or seven years now, save ten minutes here and there to clean them, and....yeah, I just got used to it? Although once in a while it'll pinch while I'm lying down on a pillow, but I can just adjust my ear and it's fine. I don't know, it's weird.

Also this thread has inspired me to take out and wash my diamond studs in my second holes that I almost never take out. I can be clean!!! I CAN.

lue
lue

@SuperMargie
Okay, I'm gross, but: when I was in 5th grade, I remember reaching back to itch behind my ear only to discover that the back of my ear and some of my neck were covered in dried up ear goo. I could peel off large pieces. I clearly remember being delighted and trying to pace myself so it would be more fun. Gross, gross. But so satisfying.

PistolPackinMama

@dinos Oh thank goodness. It wasn't as bad as I was expecting. I was expecting ear volcanoes.

She Saved The World, Alot

@lue I think its the same sort of satisfaction that you (I) get from popping pimples and black heads and OOOH especially ingrown hairs. Like, I realize it's abhorrent but I...can't...stop...

My earring have really dark green gunk on them. I'm just going to choose to believe that means I have special radioactive powers or...something.

Craftastrophies

@The Lady of Shalott I had braces, and as painful and uncomfortable as that was, literally the worst pain I ever had was when the orthodontist was tightening them once, and he put the heel of his hand down really hard on my earlobe, and the back of my earring dug hard enough into my tender headflesh to draw blood.

MsChilePepper

@dinos Yes, I was going to share that link myself!

This is my new username

@SuperMargie You get used to it after awhile. My earring holes grow over if I don't have earrings in at all times. I have had to get my ears repierced 3 times because they grew over so I just always leavve them in. I also always make sure to move them around and stuff everyday, but I totally just leave them in for extended periods of time.

nevernude cutoffs

I just wanted to tell you how vital Ask A Clean Person has become to my existence. I spilled bright orangey (L'oreal Tangerine Crush) nail polish ALL over my room and white rug last night, and first thing I did was run to this website. And found my answer, love yallll

Marquise de Morville

Silver tarnishes because it reacts with hydrogen sulfides (in foods, wool, etc.) so if you clean it proper you should be able to be able to smell rotten eggs. I used to add some aluminum foil to my silver cleaning bath since that galvanic reaction helps removing the tarnish, but the Internet* just taught me that it will just lead to more rapid tarnishing after.

*The American Society of Silversmiths has a very detailed discussion on how to clean silver ( here http://www.silversmithing.com/care.htm#Advice). They recommend Purell and Windex, but warn against toothpaste.

SarahP

@Marquise de Morville Wow! I have totally smelled sulphur while polishing my silver jewelry, and I now know why! (It always sketched me out for some reason, like I was either doing something wrong or the devil was about to appear like he was waiting in my earring like a genie in a bottle.)

Ophelia

@SarahP Oooh. Now I want to write a short story about a possessed necklace or something.

DillyBean

@Marquise de Morville I just this weekend discovered that guide and it was incredibly informative. Who knew about Purell?

And then I felt guilty about not polishing the silver all the time and about using my tub of Wrights. I mean, at the first sign of yellowing we're supposed to polish? I have a job. And tv shows to watch.

Marquise de Morville

@DillyBean They may be going overboard on the polishing since it actually *is* their job as Silversmiths? Or maybe as A Clean Person one is supposed to be polishing silver items while watching TV - instead of stroking a cat or similar.

Marquise de Morville

@SarahP The smell is why my mother made me polish the silver cutlery my parents had and that I insisted on using for holiday dinners. Chromium plating is less romantic, but much less work intensive.

Equestrienne

Hagerty silver polish. Trust.

hellomynameis

what about a diamond engagement ring? the inside of my band has holes in it, and i think it gets pretty gunky in there.

SuperMargie

@hellomynameis I use an old toothbrush and jewelry cleaner. My stone is set way too high and all kinds of crap gets under it.

missrubyjones

@hellomynameis I soak my engagement ring in regular old non-sudsing ammonia, at least twice a week. Most jewelry cleaning solution is nothing more than ammonia. If you soak at least a couple weeks, your ring will never get dirty enough that you'll need to use a toothbrush on it.

All Mimsy

Awesome, I was just staring at my Tiffany Key neckless, the one I wear like everyday, and trying to remember how to clean it. Also, I inherited a pearl neckless from my Grandma (Really it's my Mom's, but she never wears it, so I stole it.), and I was wondering if I should clean it somehow.

Nutmeg

I LOVE polishing silver jewelery. Especially chains. WHY are the chains so fun, but take the least time? If someone would get me a 500ft long silver chain (preferably coiled, 'cause knots) and some silver polish/rags I would be so happy. Also rich, right?

Ophelia

@Nutmeg I love untangling jewelry knots!

SarahP

@Nutmeg I am the opposite. I have no problem polishing my pendants/earrings/bracelets, but I hate doing chains. We should have a polishing-our-jewelry trade-off sometime.

lora.bee

@Nutmeg Ooh ooh, me too! When I worked at a jewelry store (a nice one that sold NICE pieces, NOT Claire's or whatnot), it was my favorite thing to do all day. Chains + cleaning cloth = satisfaction.

lue
lue

@Ophelia Yes, knots! I have skills with knots (actually probably not skills, just patience), and I like them all, but necklace chains, oh my gosh. So great. Also, how do they get there? You lay your necklace flat in a jewelery box, open it a week later, knots.

theepiccek

@lue THIS IS WHY WE HANG OUR JEWELLERY UP (by 'us' I mean 'I' because knots just make me cry in frustration, so necklaces now have HOOKS or are placed lovingly back into the box they came in - the box is magic I swear to god)

She Saved The World, Alot

@theepiccek WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE WHO LIKE DE-KNOTTING JEWELRY! I have this one really pretty necklace with a tiny pearl pendant on a ridiculously thin gold chain that I just hide away because I have 0 patience and if I try to de-knot it, I know I'll just end up really frustrated and will probably rip the chain. It is taking all my willpower (of which there is not much) to just leave the poor thing be and not destroy it.

Ophelia

@She Saved The World, Alot If you live in NY, I will totally detangle it for you.

She Saved The World, Alot

@Ophelia In fact I do! At the next NYC 'Pin up we should all bring, clean, and detangle our jewelry!

missrubyjones

LETTER WRITER 4: NOOOOOOOOOOO. Don't EVER put your jewelry in boiling water! Especially not plated metals or soft metals like silver, and especially not if your bracelet has any enameled or gemstone charms. Boiling water will dissolve some enameling and can crack gemstones.

SarahP

A warning to I-wear-the-same-earrings-every-day people: if it's a material that's softer than gold (ie, silver or softer) and you never take it out, the gunk and buildup can eat away at the post and the earring could just break off. Don't let stuff build up there!

Bambi

@SarahP Gah! I wish I had known that sooner. It explains what happened to my diamond stud earring (the stud part broke off). Still haven't gotten it fixed yet, either. :( But thanks for the heads up.

SarahP

@Bambi It happened to my husband, twice. But it's not too expensive to get it re-set!

Megasus

WHY DID YOU TELL ME THAT ABOUT EARRING GUNK JOLIE!? I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS.
Also, I hate charm bracelets!

MrsLlama

This is SUPES WEIRD. Last weekend I got into a drawer-cleaning-out K-hole and I found all this old jewelry (cheap stuff but big rings I liked and then threw in a box when I moved 2 years ago and forgot about) and it was STANK. So I spent many hours baking soda/dish soap soaking that stuff. It worked pretty well.

ALSO an additional tip. If you have rings that turn your fingers green and smell, paint the inside with clear nail polish. Prevention! I learned a lot googling how to clean up your cheapo stuff, y'all.

Hairpin, are you in my brain/house?

cheeseandcrackers

Okay CHARM BRACELET. I have a gold one I inherited and I love it but the gold looks a little unshiny so I'm using one of these tricks to fix it. I've heard that the charms all stand for something, like the little leprechaun is for luck and the little shoe is for safe travels. I also have one single silver charm. Would it look stupid to put it on the gold bracelet? It's a little silver hairy coo and who can resist wearing a hairy coo? Especially when you can tell people NO THAT'S NOT A COW IT'S A COO.

So question: I have a milk steamer/espresso machine. Can I use the steam arm to clean my ring? It's carved gold so it has lots of spaces that guck gets into but I don't want to ruin any of the carving because it's freaking beautiful and delicate and omg this is an heirloom and I can NOT fuck it up.

Anji

@cheeseandcrackers Yes to your coo charm! Just put it in between two gold charms if you can so it looks all symmetrical-like.

Oh my god, hon, please don't put that ring in an espresso machine. If you're worried about fucking it up by cleaning it yourself, take it to a jeweler and ask them to do it.

TeresaOtter

@cheeseandcrackers A coo! How wonderful!

thenotestaken

Um, so, what about really cheap rings and such from Forever 21 that look fine but then turn your skin green when you wear them for all of a day? Any remedy for that, especially given that the ring is really cute and gets lots of compliments? I'm asking for a friend, of course.

AmeliaBadelia

@thenotestaken If the outside of the ring still looks fine, I usually put a coat of clear nail polish on the inside to prevent green fingers. It wears off eventually, but you'll get a few weeks of non green before you have to redo it. :)

MsChilePepper

@thenotestaken This stuff is better than nail polish, since it's made specifically for the purpose. Works pretty well! Don't know where you can buy it other than at Fire Mountain (I buy it in bulk and resell to my customers, but don't have any in stock right now), but I'm sure the Googlebox can tell you.

Anji

Most of my jewelry is sterling silver without much by way of gemstones, and I'm That Person who doesn't take out post earrings because I have six holes in one ear and five in the other, and they would close up if I did. (Two actually did, when I was in culinary school and had to take my earrings out and put them back in every day.) I remove my earrings twice a week or so and clean them just under some hot running water, which is good enough for me. Other jewelry, including this awesome vermeil collar necklace I bought at a yard sale when I was a teenager, gets the warm water and baking soda treatment. I just make a paste out of it, rub it in with my fingers, and it does a pretty good job.

Echoing the sentiments on leave them pearls alone. Opals, too. Those are my birthstone and I feel it is my duty to remind all y'all that those things are fragile as hell. Get your pearls and opals cleaned by a professional!

anachronistique

@Anji I haven't taken out my cartilage piercings in YEARS. But they're hoops that rotate so they don't really get buildup.... oh lord, I'm just trying to talk myself out of being super grossed out.

Anji

@anachronistique I noticed that the cartilage piercings I have (one in my left ear, an industrial in my right ear) don't seem to get so gunked up as the regular piercings. It's totally weird, but whatevs, I'll take it!

Hello Kidney

My dingy silver necklace is now soaking in a warm vinegary jacuzzi, thank you very much Jolie. :)

carolita

Anyone know how to clean a pin made of sterling silver with marcasite stones all over it? I'm always wondering how to get into those nooks and crannies. I usually just use a silver cleaning cloth from Muji. Also, can you use silver cleaner on a silver pin that has gold bit on it?

Ophelia

@carolita Maybe gentle detergent/water on a Q-tip?

TeresaOtter

@carolita @Ophelia May I suggest these? That tip is quite sturdy and very effective!

MsChilePepper

@TeresaOtter Marcasites are glued into little depressions, and the glue can be weakened if it gets wet. Ask a jewelry about cleaning the pin.

anachronistique

So does anybody else remember a Christopher Pike book in which part of the way the hero recognized the evil girl was evil/cursed/back from the dead/lying about her identity had to do with emeralds and their relative softness? Like maybe they'd been in a fire and claimed their emerald survived when it should have shattered?

anachronistique

@anachronistique Chain Letter 2! How did I remember all this? http://likepike.blogspot.com/2008/06/chain-letter-2-ancient-evil.html (Spoilers abound!)

citizen knope

How do you wear your charm bracelets without looking twee? I have a nice one from when I was a girl that I'd like wear for sentimental reasons as the charms were gifts from family members, but I haven't worn it since I was a teenager. I feel like it would be overkill with a girly outfit, but that it would look out of place with more sophisticated clothes. Now that I'm thinking about it, I bet I could mix it with a black or white tee, old jeans, and a chain necklace to a tough/girly hybrid.

theepiccek

@citizen knope my bff has a fantastic charm bracelet that I envy, even thought I rarely wear braclets because ugh I get weirded out when they hit keyboards, BUT she wears it maybe 60% of the time, generally when she's not too dressed up (or when it's like, sophisticated dressed up, not tea dresses and headband dressed up) and it always looks great. You just have to own it, I think.

Ophelia

@citizen knope You could probably also attach it to a chain (like, hooked to each end of it) and wear it as a necklace, if that's more your thing.

citizen knope

@citizen knope Thanks! Those are both ideas I'll have to try.

@citizen knope Arrrgghhh I just went through my apartment to try to find the charm bracelet I got as a wee thing and I can't find it. It's probably at my parents'/in a box somewhere. But I have a few random dangly bracelets (gold chain with lots of quirky little stone charms hanging all over) and I never know how to wear them. YAAAAY now I know!

cinnamonskin

@theepiccek bracelets and keyboards! How do people do this?

DillyBean

LW1- emeralds are fragile, and not at all like diamonds, so be really careful about what you use to clean your silver/emerald ring.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

As a former/really lazy jewelry-maker (not, like, a huge deal, I'm not that good and people don't buy from me) I just want to add a tiny bit of advice to Jolie's cleaning advice, which by the way, is spot-on, because all of the big-deal jewelry makers I know do what she says to clean their jewels:

If you're getting a piece all wet and then wiping it down to dry it, 1- do not use terry cloth or anything too abrasive and 2- not a bad idea to let it sit out for a little while and air-dry before you put it away, just to be sure it's completely dry.

Also, store your silver in cute tiny ziplock bags so it doesn't tarnish while it waits for you to wear it!

TeresaOtter

So I have a gross (only a little gross) question. I have a cute little bracelet I would like to wear more often, but there's one problem: it gives me a wart on my wrist. Not like immediately, but when I get into wearing it, I usually wear it too many days in a row (it's a discrete, little, casual thing), and then a tiny wart starts to form on my wrist (UGH, GROSS!). I believe it is simply sterling silver, but it's a little chain of small hearts, so there are some nooks and crannies where I guess bacteria lurks? I've cleaned it a number of times, but that hasn't seemed to break the cycle.

Anyone have any idea why it does that? Or how I can prevent this strange phenomenon? Poor bracelet. :(

MsChilePepper

@TeresaOtter Well, if it's really a wart, that's caused by a virus, and you'll always have that virus in your body. The bracelet might be abrading the skin and irritating it enough that the virus acts up. However, maybe it's just a pimple/clogged pore, which definitely might be caused by the bracelet being dirty. In either case, clean it STAT! and don't wear it for such extended periods in future.

sceps yarx

@TeresaOtter My wedding ring gives me a weird rash, and I think it might be hand soap build-up, or even just moisture. If you have sensitive skin, it can react to anything. I have a silver necklace that makes my chest break out, too. Maybe the jewelry just keeps my skin from breathing or exfoliating properly? I dunno, it's a mystery. An itchy mystery.

Ali36

I found the instructions on page https://www.silver.ag/en/cleaning-jewelry-at-home/ I found that the best way to shine Silver jwellery is to clean it with Colgate Tooth Powder. I used this method, works awesome!

madan

Hello Jolie Kerr from what i read above i think you should wear the jewelery but keep the design simple and same you should do with the gemstone jewelry. This will save your time cleaning the jewelery when needed.

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