Did you know that there is an extremely inexpensive and simple jewelry cleaner, for cleaning gemstones? It keeps them looking sparkling new, takes about a minute, and costs just pennies! The secret? Baking soda!
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What I use as a jewelry cleaner for my gemstone jewelry
I have never purchased a jewelry cleaner kit. I know they exist, but that is honestly all I know about them. Baking soda and a toothbrush is all I have ever used to clean my gemstone jewelry.
The tool (toothbrush)
My jewelry cleaner tool is a toothbrush. My toothbrush of choice is a children’s toothbrush with the softest bristles possible. The toothbrush does not need to be new. I like to save my old toothbrushes for dirty jobs around the house. If I was using an old toothbrush that had been used for tooth brushing, I would just soak the toothbrush bristles in a water/sodium perbarbonate (oxiclean) solution like #9 in my uses of sodium percarbonate list, just to kill any bacteria that may have lingered on the toothbrush, before using it on my jewelry. However, I don’t have kids and didn’t have any extra soft toothbrushes laying around. I was able to find this 5-pack for $1.00 at Walmart.
The cleaner (baking soda & water)
The “cleaning agent” that I use as my gemstone jewelry cleaner is simply baking soda and water. I always have baking soda on hand, using it frequently for baking as well as cleaning, such as my castile soap scum cleaner, in my laundry soap, in a solution for removing sweat stains from clothing, and even in my toothpaste.
Baking soda is quite inexpensive, typically about $1.00 per pound, and I use a small pinch for each gemstone I clean.
How I clean my gemstone jewelry
I use this jewelry cleaner for the gemstones only – not the metal. However, for the jewelry I have cleaned, I had no adverse affect of the baking soda-water solution contacting the metal (sterling silver, 14kt gold) setting.
- If the gemstone is a removable pendant on a necklace, bracelet, hoop earrings, etc., I remove the gemstone from the chain, since I will be focusing on cleaning the gemstone and not the chain.
- I wet the bristles of the toothbrush, and dip the tip of the toothbrush bristles in the baking soda (see photo below).
- Next I place the baking soda covered toothbrush bristles on the gemstone and very gently brush all over the gemstone, carefully brushing between all prongs of the setting, and ensuring that I brush all surfaces of the stone.
- Finally, I rinse the stone and toothbrush, and pat dry the stone using a soft, absorbent towel. Now I have a beautiful gemstone that sparkles like new!
Cautions about my gemstone jewelry cleaner
I personally have never had any issues scratching or damaging my gemstones or settings by cleaning my gemstone jewelry in this way, however I cannot guarantee the same for anyone else. If you choose to try this jewelry cleaning method, you are doing so at your own risk, and I am not responsible for any damage that occurs to your jewelry.
I have only used this jewelry cleaning technique on precious or semi-precious gems, set in sterling silver or 14 karat gold. I do NOT recommend this for fashion jewelry, as I have no idea how this will work.
Gemselect lists the Mohs hardness value of many gemstones. I personally have used this on harder gemstones like sapphire, amethyst, and diamond. Personally, I would try it on gemstones with a Mohs hardenss value of 7 or higher. I would NOT use it on opals or pearls, which are very “soft”. I typically just wipe those with a microfiber cloth.
Cost to use my gemstone jewelry cleaner
Extra soft toothbrush pack of 5: $1.07
Baking soda costs $0.99 for 1 lb on Amazon and in grocery stores. The amount used to clean each gemstone is just a pinch – far less than 1/16th teaspoon, the smallest measuring spoon I own. I guess I use about 1/8 of that 1/16 tsp.
($0.99/1 lb)x(1 lb/454 g)x(4.8g/1 tsp)x(1/16 tsp)x(1/8)=$0.0000818: tiny fractions of pennies.
I only clean 3 gemstones, each monthly. $0.0000818 x 12 x 3 = $0.0029. Less than 1/3 of 1 cent in cleaning supplies annually to clean my jewelry (Plus the upfront cost of the toothbrush, which will probably last forever).