How to Clean Diamond Earrings

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How to Clean Diamond Earrings

Diamonds are one of the hardest stones known to man, but a simple touch from an oily fingertip might stay on its impenetrable surface, marring its exquisite shine. Diamond earrings need less frequent cleaning than other jewellery pieces, such as wedding rings, but this does not mean the earrings should be neglected for a long period of time. Certain types of metals such as silver, oxidise and tarnish rather quickly if they are not cleaned and polished periodically.

The good news is that the diamond earrings purchased in a jewellery store, or through an online website like eBay, can be cleaned at home, so there is really no reason to pay a jeweller to do so. However, buyers need to know what they are doing before they start the purchasing process. When cleaning any type of jewellery, it is extremely important that owners first understand the different cleaning techniques for diamonds, precious metals, and other gemstones.

General Earring Cleaning Tips

Earrings, and all jewellery pieces in general, should never be completely submerged in water. The water gets into every part of the setting, including places that even brushes cannot reach. If left there, eventually it can potentially start to rust the metal, making the setting and the prongs loose. This completely ruins the entire earring, so always be sure to mix the water and cleaning mixture in a separate container, and clean the jewellery using a brush.

Brushes

Any household brush, including a toothbrush, can work as a tool for cleaning jewellery. In fact, professionals recommend staying away from wire brushes altogether. While the wires won't scratch the diamond, they do scratch the metal. This is especially true of any high carat gold, such as 18ct and 22ct. The softer the bristles of the brush, the better off the metal's surface is in the long run.

Work Area

Cleaning jewellery on a flat surface like a table is always a wise choice. Stay away from the kitchen counter and sink, no matter how tempting a workspace seems. Every plumber has a story about how someone was trying to clean their jewellery and ended up dropping it down the drain. It's best to stay away from sinks altogether, but if owners want to work beside one, then they would be wise to plug the drain beforehand.

Cleaning Diamonds

The good news about diamonds is that they are so strong they don't suffer from the same strenuous care as other jewellery pieces. They hardly ever get scratched, unless it is by another diamond. For this very reason, jewellers recommend storing diamond jewellery in separate compartments where the diamonds do not touch each other. Diamonds do tend to get their surfaces dirty from oil, grease, and dirt, but this is easy to remove.

Cleaning Mixture

Combine one part of ammonia to six parts of hot water, in order to create a cleaning mixture that is safe for the diamond and its surrounding metal setting. Keep in mind that if there are other gemstones in the setting, do not use hot water. Hot water may not damage diamonds, but it can affect other gemstones. If there is no ammonia in the house, dishwashing detergent works just as well. Dip the brush into the mixture and then carefully work it across the surface of the diamond, removing all of the built-up grime. Always make sure to be extra careful around the prongs holding the diamond in place. If too much pressure is applied to the brush, the bristles could loosen the prong.

Cleaning Gemstones

Diamond is the hardest of the gemstones, and probably the easiest to clean since it is almost impossible to damage. Other gemstones aren't so lucky. For example, an emerald can stand being cleaned with either ammonia or dishwashing soap, but it cannot tolerate hot water like a diamond can. Below is a small chart outlining proper cleaning methods for some of the most popular gemstones.

Name

Toughness (Moh's Scale)

Boiling/Hot Water Safe

Soap Safe

Amethyst

7

No

Yes

Aquamarine

7.5-8

No

Yes

Emerald

7.5-8

No

Yes

Jade

6-7

Yes

Yes

Pearl

2.5-4

No

No

Ruby

9

Lukewarm

Yes

Sapphire

9

No

Yes

Other than diamonds, it is simply not safe to clean many gemstones in hot water. Pearls are one of the few gemstones that are not safe for cleaning with soap. Generally speaking, however, most gemstones work well with a cleaning mixture of dish soap and cool water, but always double check to be sure.

Cleaning Gold

Like diamonds, gold does not tarnish, but unlike diamonds, gold is a softer metal. The biggest problem with gold is that it tends to look lacklustre over time due to oil building up on its surface. The good news is that gold can be cleaned at home using the same cleaning mixture needed for diamonds. However, owners need to be careful with high carat gold since this metal is exceptionally soft. Only use brushes with very fine and soft bristles. A baby's toothbrush, for example, works wonderfully for cleaning gold.

Cleaning Silver

The proper method for cleaning diamond earrings that are accompanied by silver is a hotly contested topic. It seems like everyone and their mother has a secret recipe for cleaning silver. Which method work best largely depends on the type of silver, such as sterling silver or silver-plated items. Also, if the silver is simply dirty from oil or grease, it needs a different cleaning method than tarnished silver.

Cleaning Dirty Silver

Silver jewellery also gets oil and grime on its surface, dulling its lustrous glow. When this happens, use the same ammonia and water mixture, or dishwasher detergent and water method, for cleaning silver that is used for cleaning diamonds and gold. Use a brush to get into all of the crevices and then carefully dry the silver with a soft cloth.

Cleaning Tarnished Silver

Silver that is left unused for some time starts to tarnish, turning its surface black. This is one of the biggest conditional problems with silver, and the proper cleaning method causes quite a debate. Some experts only clean tarnished silver with silver polish. Others dislike the harsh chemicals in silver polish and prefer to use household items like toothpaste or baking soda instead. There is also a lot of misinformation on this subject.

Never Submerge Silver Jewellery

One of the biggest mistakes anyone could make is to submerge silver jewellery. There are many cleaning recipes on the internet that call for submerging silver jewellery into an aluminium-lined pan with boiling water and then sprinkling baking soda and salt on top. While this method might work for silverware, it does not work well for jewellery. The water is almost impossible to completely remove from the setting, and in the end causes more harm than good.

Silver Polish vs. Homemade Recipes

Silver polish removes the tarnish from silver due to a chemical reaction that also takes off the top layer of silver in the process. Combine this with the fact that silver polish uses toxic chemicals, and many people are reluctant to purchase them. While some homemade recipes call for toothpaste; baking soda and salt might be a better option. Mix the baking soda, salt and water together until it has a paste-like texture, and then scrub the mixture onto the earring with a sponge. This method actually turns the tarnish, silver sulfide, back into silver, but it causes the silver to lose its lustre. Therefore, it is best to alternate silver cleaning methods over time, using the baking soda method at first and then using a silver polish later.

A Note on the Baking Soda Method

The baking soda method is truly only safe with sterling silver. Do not use it with jewellery that has other metals, or is only silver-plated. This is because of basic chemistry, since the baking soda is reacting to silver sulfide, the technical name for tarnish, by galvanising it into silver. The problem is that this process interferes with the chemical composition of other metals underneath the silver plate and actually corrodes the metal underneath. For silver plate or silver jewellery pieces mixed with gold or other metals, only use a silver polish.

Buying Diamond Earrings and Cleaning Products on eBay

eBay is one of the few locations in the world where customers can purchase a pair of fancy diamond earrings, and household cleaning products, all in the same location. It is well worth your time to explore the vintage and used jewellery sections on eBay, and perhaps find your own diamond in the rough.

Searching for Diamond Earrings on eBay

Diamond earrings come in all different styles and sizes, so it is best to know what you want before you start looking to buy a pair. If you want to browse eBay's current selection, simply type in 'diamond earrings' and explore the results. Typically, the results stretch into the hundreds, so once you have a better idea of the style you want, you can start narrowing down your search. For example, typing in 'gold diamond earrings' only returns earrings only made from gold and diamonds.

Searching for Cleaning Products on eBay

Customers who are looking for specific jewellery cleaning products can also find them on eBay. For example, a search for 'silver polish' returns results from many different silver polishing brands. It is also possible to search for household cleaning products that are used to clean jewellery, such as ammonia and dishwashing detergent. Even the toothbrushes used for cleaning jewellery can be found on eBay.

Conclusion

When it comes to cleaning diamond earrings, customers may wind up paying a small fortune for a pair of elegant diamond earrings. The good news about buying jewellery, particularly used jewellery, is that in most cases it can be successfully cleaned at home, bringing it back to its former glory. Many older pieces of jewellery look lacklustre, simply because they have not been cleaned in a very long time. This is no reason to overlook the great deal many buyers get through purchasing used jewellery on eBay. In fact, with a few simple steps, buyers can clean their jewellery at home using household products like ammonia, dishwashing detergent, and water. Certain metals and gemstones, however, need special care. Silver, for example, has different cleaning requirements than gold, and improper techniques can potentially harm the metal forever. Therefore, when it comes to cleaning jewellery at home, it is important to understand both the gemstones and the metals being cleaned before starting the process. By properly following all of the procedures, owners can continue to enjoy their diamond earrings for countless years to come.

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