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Cleaning Your Gold

All jewelry has its maintenance requirements. Tarnished silver, for example, can be cleaned by applying silver polish (also, see our previous post: While gold does not tarnish, it does lose its luster over time. Unlike silver tarnishing, which is caused by oxygen chemically reacting with the surface of the metal, requiring specially made abrasive materials to purify it, gold can be cleaned with everyday substances found in the home!  (But, please remember, this applies only to gold, not to costume jewelry or to jewelry with gemstones!)

The first method is the simplest: all it takes is a bit of soap. A few drops of dish detergent combined with a lukewarm liquid should do the trick.  The best liquid is sodium-free seltzer or club soda, but in their absence plain tap water will work just as well.  After soaking the jewelry for about fifteen minutes, a (very) gentle scrub will loosen the grit and dirt contributing to the dullness.  Make sure to avoid abrasive scrubbers, like a toothbrush and — ironically — even tissues, which may feel soft but in reality contain tiny wood fibers that will scratch your jewelry.  Instead, use cotton balls, cotton cloths, or better yet a soft scrubber tailor-made for this purpose.  Once scrubbed down, give everything a rinse through more lukewarm water. Keep in mind: if you do decide to wash gemstones, water that is too hot can cause cracks in some of the more delicate gems (e.g., opals or pearls) and can loosen pieces that have gemstones glued into their setting, so when using this technique keep a close eye on the temperature of your water.  (Also make sure to plug your drain so no mishaps occur!)

If you somehow find yourself in a place without dish washing detergent, don’t fret!  You can find an equally effective tool in your very own bathroom.  As a very mild abrasive, toothpaste acts as a great sterilizer not just for teeth and gums but for gold as well. Mix in a bit of water to create a runnier, paste-like consistency, then use your fingers or a cloth to rub it into the gold.  Then, using a damp cloth, gently dab the jewelry until its surface is clean.   These household items are some of the easiest to procure, so rest assured you can keep your gold glowing at all times!


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