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Tips for keeping your gold and silver jewellery clean in times of COVID-19

July 21, 2020 3 min read

Diamond engagement ring, watch and cleaning solution

It’s clear COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon, so the more we learn to live with it, the better. It’s great that we are all getting used to social distancing and relentlessly washing our hands. We have new-found discipline when it comes to not touching our faces or fingernails and I am even enjoying the warmth that a facemask provides in winter!

However one thing that isn’t often talked about is keeping your jewellery clean. Jewellery that is worn every day is wonderful for harbouring bacteria. As well as getting into the small crevices of rings, bracelets and watchbands, bacteria and viruses are also known to sit on hard surfaces for longer than other surfaces. For example, studies suggest COVID-19 may last up to three days on stainless steel. So as well as washing your hands regularly it’s a good idea to clean your jewellery and metal watch bands separately. 

The good news is that diamonds and precious metals are quite resilient so with a little attention to detail, caring for them between professional cleans is not too tricky. Here are some tips on how to clean some of the most common everyday gold and silver jewellery:

How to simply clean diamond engagement rings

To clean a diamond engagement ring at home put some very hot water and dishwashing liquid into a heatproof bowl or cup and leave to soak for about ten minutes. After it has been left to soak, take an old, very soft toothbrush and gently brush your ring, paying particular attention to the nooks and crannies around the setting. Rinse with warm water and wipe with a soft cloth. Take note not to use a hard toothbrush or scrub too vigorously or this could cause scratch marks on the metal. Similarly, dry with a soft cloth, not paper towel as paper towels can also leave scratches.

 If the ring is particularly dirty, you can also add a few drops of household ammonia. This will help remove badly built up grease and dirt without the temptation of scrubbing too hard! Be careful not to add too much as ammonia is a strong and corrosive chemical. Also always add ammonia to the water, not water to ammonia; this is important to avoid a strong chemical reaction.

Cleaning rings with other types of precious gems

If you have an engagement ring (or other rings) with other stones, it is important that you understand the properties of those stones before you start cleaning as many stones are quite delicate and require special care. Here’s a few extra tips on some other common stones:

    • Sapphires, Rubies and Emeralds are hard stones but are often heat treated (and in the case of emeralds may have had additional oil treatments to cover imperfections) so resist the temptation to put them in extremely hot water. This could change the colour of the stone.
    • Pearls are very delicate gems. They not only scratch easily but they are also very susceptible to chemicals. You can gently wash a pearl ring in lukewarm water with mild soap using a soft cloth. Do not use a brush or any abrasive detergent or chemicals such as vinegar to clean them. This will damage the surface (nacre) of the pearl.

How to clean silver and gold bracelets

The links on bracelets can collect dirt, dead skin and bacteria. However providing they don’t contain lots of delicate stones, they tend to be quite straightforward to clean. As with a diamond ring, you can simply place them in container of very hot soapy water and leave to soak for about ten minutes. After it has been left to soak, take the bracelet in your hand and use an old very soft toothbrush and gently scrub the links. Rinse with warm water and wipe with a soft cloth. It’s super simple, and your bracelet will thank you for it with a vibrant shine. 

A note on cleaning metal watch brands

Watches can be similar to bracelets for collecting bacteria and dead skin. For a watch band, obviously don’t submerge your watch in water but use a toothbrush that has been dipped in warm soapy water and very gently use the brush on the grooves between the links to release any trapped dirt or dead skin. Carefully wash away the soapy water and dirt with a clean wet cloth and then follow up with a dry soft cloth.

A final tip on keeping brushes sponges and cloths clean

A final tip – if you heat damp sponges or cloths in the microwave for a minute, it will kill any residual bacteria. Toothbrushes you’ve used for cleaning can also be simply sterilised with boiling water.

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