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Squeaky Clean
Having your jewelry cleaned isn’t just about making it sparkly again, although that is of vital importance. Nobody wants dingy diamonds. But cleaning your jewelry can also be accurately construed as a hygiene issue. It can also be a security concern.

Here are some examples.

I once cleaned the previous night’s meatloaf out of the gallery of a lady’s ring. That’s right: raw ground beef and bits of diced onion. How do I know that’s what it was? I asked, and I was told it was so.

Screwback earrings are widely viewed by the public as the most secure earrings out there. But if you don’t take your earrings out and clean them properly on a regular basis, the buildup of dead skin and oil can fill the threads of the post and make the backs slip right off.

Jewelry is meant to be worn and enjoyed. And as long as you’re not doing anything outright destructive to it, like jumping in a pool, or bashing it with a hammer, we’re not about to tell you how to wear your jewelry. This really is one of those “live and let live” sorts of things.

But if you’re interested in a little insider experience, read on.

The Gunk
As living human beings, we all have a few things in common. We have heartbeats. We breathe oxygen. And we all slough dead skin and ooze oil from our pores.

If you never have, now might be a good time to examine your jewelry under magnification. If you can get hold of one, a 10-power jeweler’s loupe works great, as does a microscope, but an ordinary magnifying glass will work just fine.

Inspect your rings. Check all the nooks and crannies around the prongs and under the center stones. Take a close look at the back of the stones in your earrings and bracelets. What do you see?

Unless you’ve had your jewelry cleaned in the last week, you’ll probably see some nondescript variety of gunk (hereafter referred to as “The Gunk”). The most common component of The Gunk is a paste created by dead skin, body oil, and sweat. Earwax and hair products can contribute to The Gunk you see on your earrings. Lotion is often compacted in with The Gunk found in the prongs and channels of rings and bracelets.

Really, the only kinds of jewelry that tend to get away fairly clean are brooches (which are worn on clothes) and pendants (most of which are taken off regularly). That doesn’t mean those still shouldn’t be cleaned routinely. They should.

Anyway, The Gunk, especially on your rings, traps whatever your hands come in contact with. Common dust and dirt, flecks of paint, powdered laundry detergent, and bits of food all get corralled by The Gunk. Apart from the E. coli infesting the raw ground beef presented to me by Madame Meatloaf, lots of other bacteria and other unsavory germs can get trapped in The Gunk, too.

And washing your hands doesn’t really do much but spread the germs around on your jewelry because, while your hands may be scrubbed quite nicely, your rings and bracelets simply get rinsed. The soapy water passes right over them without getting much physical attention. The germs you’re washing off your hands usually get snared in The Gunk, just waiting for their next opportunity to infect someone.

Other Effects
Besides acting as a Petri dish, The Gunk makes your best jewelry look uninspired. A single dose of hand cream can dingy-up a freshly polished ring in one fell swoop, dulling the luster of gold, and masking the sparkle of the finest-cut diamond. Even a thin coating of The Gunk on the back of a diamond can diminish the way it interacts with light.

As mentioned above, The Gunk can compromise the security of earrings. Friction nuts, screwbacks, and la poussette (pinch-locking) backs can all get gummed up with The Gunk, making them all susceptible to sliding straight off their posts. And earrings with no backs don’t stay in your ears very well.

The Remedy
We at Windsor Jewelry are more than happy to clean your jewelry for you for free, and most likely while you wait. We consider it a public service that also keeps you looking good. We use a combination of ultrasonic cleaning, heat, and pressurized steam to eradicate The Gunk in just a few minutes.

But maybe you can’t make it to Downtown Indy in a convenient manner. That’s okay.

There’s still hope. And it’s not so involved as this. →   →   →

All you need for most of your jewelry are a small bowl, a bottle of water, a few drops of mild, grease-cutting dish soap, a few paper towels, and a soft toothbrush dedicated solely to the task. I say “mostly” because pearls and emeralds should not be cleaned like this. Pearls just need to be gently wiped with a damp cloth, but please bring emeralds into us to clean for you.

Pour some other bottled water into the small bowl and reserve half of the bottle for rinsing. Heat the bowl of bottled water up in the microwave until it’s warm like a toddler’s bathwater. At this point, you might ask why you can’t just use hot tap water. Well, tap and well water contain chlorine, lime, fluoride, and any number of other things that are not good for precious metal alloys and many colored gemstones (but that’s a whole different blog post).

So you have your heated distilled water, into which you pour a couple drops of dish soap. Stir it up with your toothbrush and gently set your jewelry into the bowl a few pieces at a time, taking care not to let them bang against each other. Pick them up piece by piece and gently scrub all the crevices with the toothbrush. Focus on the sides of stones, pronged areas, and the underside of the setting.

Scrub, scrub, scrub!

Then rinse each piece off with a little pour from the bottle of water and lay each one on a paper towel to dry.

This method is great for keeping your jewelry bright and clean in between trips to your local independent jeweler for (free) professional cleanings.

Don’t forget Windsor Jewelry cleans jewelry for free.

Did I mention Windsor Jewelry will clean your jewelry for free? That’s “free.”