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Cleaning and Care Tips For Different Metal Types

Noticing that your favorite jewelry is losing its luster?

Dust, dirt, lotions, and moisture are just a few impurities that can cause your favorite pieces to dull over time. Although you can always book a professional cleaning with Brilliant Earth at one of our showrooms, many of the pieces in your jewelry box can be cleaned at home in between professional cleanings using DIY methods. The trick to keeping your jewelry looking its best is knowing how to take care of each metal type. You should not be cleaning your yellow gold necklace the same way you clean your platinum engagement ring! Knowing the proper care techniques for each metal type will help ensure that your jewelry collection stays gleaming like new.

Read on to discover our guide to caring for your favorite precious metal pieces!

General Jewelry Care Tips

Although each metal type requires specific cleaning and care methods, general care guidelines apply to all metal types:

Remove your jewelry when doing physical activity that may cause abrasions to the surface of your ring such as: gardening, housekeeping, and exercise. Avoiding contact with harsh chemicals such as chlorine, household cleaners, perfume, and makeup will also prolong the luster of your jewelry. Store your jewelry in a cloth bag or a softly lined jewelry box to avoid surface scratching.

Platinum

Platinum is a popular and practical metal choice for engagement and wedding rings, due to its strength, durability, luster, and hypoallergenic nature. Unlike white gold, platinum is naturally white and will not lose its color over time. Although is maintains its luster longer than most fine jewelry metals, daily wear can cause platinum to sustain scratches and obtain a patina, or matte finish. Many people enjoy the look of this unique luster, but you may also have the platinum surface professionally repolished to return a more reflective polish. An effective at-home cleaning routine for platinum consists of:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing soap (we recommend basic dish soap) and warm water. Do not use detergents that contain chlorine or other harsh chemicals.
  2. Soak the jewelry in the solution for 20-30 minutes. Use a soft bristled brush (a baby toothbrush works great!) or a lint-free cloth to remove pesky dirt.
  3. Rinse off soap with water and dry with a soft, clean, lint-free towel.
  4. Use a polishing cloth to help remove any further tarnishing.
  5. You can also use a gentle jewelry cleaner to further clean your piece.

18K White Gold

Our 18K white gold jewelry is plated with rhodium to provide a bright white finish. With daily wear, or exposure to household chemicals, rhodium plating gradually will come off over time and expose the natural, yellowish-white tone of metal underneath. This yellow color is not dirt and will not come off with cleaning. Many people continue to wear white gold long after the rhodium plating has worn off, but you also have the option of having your jewelry professionally re-plated to return it to its bright white color. In the meantime, you can give your 18K white gold ring a refresh at home using these steps:

  1. Like with platinum, prepare a cleaning solution by mixing soap and warm water. Do not use detergents that contain chlorine, ammonia, or other harsh chemicals.
  2. Soak the piece in the solution for 20-30 minutes. Use your fingers, a soft cloth, or a soft toothbrush to remove pesky dirt. Be careful not to scrub too hard so you don’t scratch your rhodium plating!
  3. Rinse off soap with water and dry with a soft, clean towel. Again, we recommend using a lint free microfiber cloth to avoid fibers snagging on any prongs on your ring setting.
  4. Use a polishing cloth to help remove any further tarnishing.
  5. Many common cleaning products can accelerate wear on white gold’s rhodium plating, so be careful or avoid these altogether when wearing a white gold ring.
  6. If you would like to buy a jewelry cleaning or polishing spray, be sure to purchase one that specifies it is safe for white gold and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

18K Yellow Gold

When yellow gold is mined, it is naturally yellow in color and does not fade or lose its color over time. Daily wear can cause the yellow gold to lose its luster and sustain surface scratches, however. While professional maintenance is required to buff out surface scratching, regular at-home cleanings can easily restore yellow gold’s warm luster. Because yellow gold is more durable than white gold, mild chemicals such as ammonia can be used to clean yellow gold. Follow these steps to clean your yellow gold pieces:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing soap, warm water, and a few drops of ammonia.
  2. Soak the piece in the solution for 20-30 minutes. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or a soft cloth to remove pesky dirt.
  3. Rinse off soap with water and either allow to airdry or blot dry with a soft, clean lint-free cloth or paper towel.
  4. Use a polishing cloth to help remove any further tarnishing.
  5. Remember that gold is a soft metal, so be gentle during the brushing and polishing processes.
  6. Additionally, do not use toothpaste or baking soda mixtures to clean gold as these can be abrasive to the softer metal.

14K Rose Gold

Rose gold is alloyed with other metals, including copper, to achieve its rosy pink luster. Because of this, rose gold may react poorly to harsh chemicals or cleaning methods. The best way to care for a rose gold ring is to gently polish it regularly with a cleaning cloth to remove dirt, residue, and oils. Generally speaking, rose gold can be cleaned using the same methods as yellow gold using lukewarm water and mild dish soap.

Sterling Silver

Exposure to air and humidity will cause sterling silver to tarnish or dull over time. When possible, keep your silver in an air-tight container and away from water or moist environments. A small piece of chalk or a silica gel packet will help absorb any excess moisture in your jewelry box and help keep your silver jewelry untarnished for longer. To remove tarnish and keep your silver bright, gently rub the piece with a silver jewelry cleaning cloth. For more severe tarnishing issues, a common at home remedy includes:

  1. Line a baking dish, bowl, or pot with aluminum foil. Make sure the dish is completely covered in foil.
  2. Bring enough water to fill your foil-lined container to a boil.
  3. Add one tablespoon of baking soda for every one cup of water you used.
  4. Place your silver jewelry in the dish you have lined with foil, and make sure it is touching the foil. This is required for the chemical reaction that removes the tarnish to occur.
  5. Carefully(!) pour the boiling water and baking soda solution into the dish.
  6. Allow the water to sit for 2-5 minutes. If your tarnish is particularly bad, you can leave for up to 10 minutes. The boiling baking soda solution and foil should cause a chemical reaction that reverses your tarnish in seconds or minutes.
  7. Remove your jewelry carefully with a spoon or kitchen tongs and rinse under cool water to cool it down.
  8. Dry thoroughly with a soft cleaning cloth.

More extensive tarnish can be removed with liquid silver cleaner or by a jeweler. Please note that chlorine and bleach accelerate tarnishing and should be avoided.

Vermeil:

Vermeil is a thick layer of gold over sterling silver. If you follow the proper care techniques, vermeil is a durable material and can last over 20 years without wearing down. The main rule to prolong your vermeil’s golden luster is to avoid water. Remove vermeil jewelry before showering or swimming in chlorine or salt water, participating in activities that will cause you to sweat, and before bringing into contact with anything hard. It is always best to remove vermeil jewelry before applying makeup, lotion, perfume, or hand sanitizer. To clean, gently wipe with a soft, dry jewelry cleaning cloth.

Tungsten

Tungsten is a metal that is gaining popularity in men’s wedding rings because it is known for its strength and durability. Tungsten metal is rated at about a nine on the Mohs scale of hardness, which measures a materials resistance to surface scratching. Tungsten is also one of the few metals that is undoubtedly waterproof and can sustain water and moist climates without tarnishing. Because tungsten is so durable, its cleaning and care routine is relatively simple:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing warm water with a few drops of household detergent.
  2. Scrub the ring while in the solution which a soft bristled toothbrush and a cloth to remove dirt.
  3. Rinse the soap solution from the ring under water and dry with a cloth.

Meteorite

Meteorite is a unique iron-based material that does best with a little extra care. Our jewelers have applied a protective layer over the meteorite in our meteorite rings in order to protect them from moisture. However, overtime due to natural wear and tear, that protective layer can wear away and make the piece susceptible to rusting. Therefore, we suggest treating your meteorite ring with extra care and attention:

To help prevent rusting, we recommend waxing or oiling your meteorite ring on a regular basis. If you do notice rusting, you can try one of the cleaning methods below:

Cleaning Method 1: Soak the Ring in Alcohol

  1. Soak the meteorite ring in a small bowl of rubbing alcohol. Although a liquid, rubbing alcohol will actually dry out any moisture. Soak for 30 minutes, gently scrubbing the meteorite with a toothbrush periodically.
  2. Allow the ring to dry on a paper towel or cloth and then air dry for at least 20 minutes. You do not have to wipe it off as the alcohol will evaporate on its own.
  3. Finally, seal the meteorite with oil. Apply a small amount of gunmetal oil to a dry toothbrush and scrub the meteorite gently. Wipe off excess oil with a clean, dry paper towel or cloth.

Cleaning Method 2: Use a Lubricant like WD-40

  1. Spray a thin layer of WD-40 on a soft cloth or use a jewelry polishing cloth and wipe your ring thoroughly with the cloth.
  2. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently scrub where the ring has rust.
  3. Leave a slight residue of the WD-40/Jewelry polishing cloth and let it absorb into the ring overnight.
  4. After letting it sit overnight, rub the meteorite with a thin layer of ring wax to help coat the ring.

Tantalum

Tantalum is perhaps the most durable of all men’s wedding band materials. Tantalum will never tarnish or corrode, making it ideal for those that regularly work with their hands or harsh chemicals. It is also highly resistant to surface scratching and shatterproof. With everyday wear, tantalum can obtain a patina or matte appearance. Many people find the patina finish desirable, but you also have the option of having your jewelry professionally buffed to return it to its bright luster. Note that if tantalum comes into contact with hydrofluoric acid, it can start to rust. Follow the below at-home cleaning routine to care for your tantalum piece:

  1. Prepare a cleaning solution by mixing soap and warm water.
  2. Soak the piece in the solution for 20-30 minutes. Use a soft bristled toothbrush or a cloth to remove pesky dirt.
  3. Rinse off soap with water and dry with a soft, clean towel.
  4. If you wish to remove scratches from your tantalum jewelry, you can use either a nylon pad or a cream metal polish. Rub the polish in with a cloth and rinse with water.

Final Thoughts

Interested in learning more or booking a jewelry cleaning with a specialist? We recommend making an appointment at one of our showrooms to get a personalized consultation! You can book an appointment at the showroom nearest you directly on our website here: Our Showrooms.

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Cleaning and Care Tips For Different Metal Types - Brilliant Earth Blog