Jewellery experts reveal the mistakes which could RUIN your jewellery

Jewellery is often one of our most prized possessions, with some pieces passing through the family and others holding sentimental value. 

Naturally it’s really important to protect it, so that metals don’t tarnish and gemstones don’t become irreversibly dulled. 

With the ongoing pandemic, many of us are using hand sanitiser more and more, but if we’re not careful with the type we are using, it can have an impact on our rings. 

It’s also essential to research how to clean jewellery of all kinds, because each metal and gemstone requires a different method and frequency. 

FEMAIL spoke to jewellery experts, who shared their tips on protecting your jewellery and how best to clean it – and debunked some cleaning myths, such as rubbing tomato sauce on silver. 

We’re all using copious amounts of hand sanitiser amid the Covid-19 pandemic, but while it won’t ruin gold or platinum, it can leave a residue on gemstones that will dull their brilliance (stock image)


Founder of fine jewellery brand Fenton Laura Lambert said that alcohol-based hand sanitiser will not in itself have a detrimental effect on gold and platinum jewellery. 

She said that when the alcohol in hand sanitiser has evaporated, there is a chance of a residual film layer will contribute to dulling the brilliance of the gemstone. 

Laura said: ‘It is hence recommended to soak the ring in lukewarm soapy water and then rinse it with clear cold water to remove any surface layer. 

‘Dab the ring in a soft, absorbent cloth after the final rinse, to avoid any water stains on the surface.’ 

She added that if any chlorine-based hand sanitisers should ‘be avoided to protect the integrity of the gold’. 

How often should I clean my jewellery? 
Gold  Once a week 
Silver Once a week
Platinum  Polish every few weeks, a professional clean every 6 months 
Diamonds  A light clean every 2-3 weeks, a thorough clean every 6 months 
Semi-Precious Stones  Once a week 
Costume Jewellery  Once every few months/when it starts to look dull 
Pearls  Wipe clean after every wear 

Although chlorine hand sanitisers are not very common, and are more likely to be used in a medical setting, you might want to think twice before doing any cleaning with bleach without rubber gloves.  

She said: ‘Chlorine will attack copper alloys in the gold as well as solder joints (for example, if you have had your ring resized), and can lead to discolouration or brittleness in the metal. 

‘In platinum, it can attack alloys, especially if the platinum contains silver or gold alloys, and can lead to brittleness in the metal.’

Laura added that it is the same for rubies, sapphires, garnets and aquamarines but you should avoid any chemical coming into contact with emeralds because it can lead to irreparable damage. 

If your emerald has a build up of dirt behind the gemstone, the best way to clean it is with a soft toothbrush and some tepid water.  

She said: ‘If using chlorine for a prolonged period, it can cause irreparable damage to your jewellery – both metal and gemstone. 

‘Cleaning and repolishing the metal are options, but if the metal has become brittle this will be obsolete.’ 

She added that the best way to protect your jewellery is to remove it prior to using hand sanitiser or clearning, and ensuring your hands are completely dry before putting it back on.  

Jewellery is often one of our most prized possessions, with some pieces passing through the family and others holding sentimental value, so it's important to protect it and to find out how to clean each piece properly (stock photo)

 Jewellery is often one of our most prized possessions, with some pieces passing through the family and others holding sentimental value, so it’s important to protect it and to find out how to clean each piece properly (stock photo)


Michelle Tacdol, jewellery buyer and designer at, spoke of the importance of the way you store your jewellery. 

She said that it is best to keep your jewellery in a fabric-lined case to minimise any risk of damage.  

Michelle said: ‘It is also important to store your jewellery in a sealed container to minimise airflow and reduce tarnishing.’ 

She added: ‘Ensure that your jewellery is separated from each other, for example through using a case with multiple compartments, to prevent any scratches or necklaces and bracelets becoming tangled.’ 


Research from luxury UK jewellery retailer Goldsmiths showed that a fifth of UK adults admit to never cleaning their jewellery while nearly 70 per cent don’t remove their jewellery when baking or cooking, decorating or going to the gym.   

It found that 63 per cent choose to clean their jewellery themselves at home, while 9 per cent take them to a professional jeweller to be cleaned. 

Goldsmiths said: ‘Whilst cleaning your jewellery at home is safe to do and will not damage the items, experts at Goldsmiths advise that it’s essential that you use the correct materials. 

‘Failing to do your research before you start the cleaning process can actually lead you damage your precious items, which could be costly to repair.’  

Cleaning myths debunked 

Certain products around the home can be used to clean jewellery and Goldsmiths have debunked the myths on which ones work and which ones don’t. 

Tomato ketchup – You can use tomato ketchup to shine your silver products, but shouldn’t leave it on the jewellery for more than five minutes as the acidity is likely to cause damage. 

Toothpaste – Toothpaste can be used on pretty much every item in your jewellery box apart from pearls. You simply rub the items with a soft bristled brush. Make sure you wash the residue off once you have cleaned the item. 

Coca cola/Soda – Goldsmiths said that it can be used to clean metals but it can also be used to strip paint or take the rust of metals. Therefore, it can be quite abrasive when used on your jewellery, so you shouldn’t leave it on for too long and must rinse it thoroughly after cleaning.

Bleach and water mix – The company said to avoid this method at all costs as bleach can be extremely harmful to jewellery, especially if the mixture levels aren’t right. They added that bleach can turn silver jewellery black.  

Gold and silver, including rose gold, white and plate pieces, and platinum should be cleaned with a simple mix of soap or washing up liquid and water, using a soft bristled brush such as a baby toothbrush. 

You should gently scrub and then wash off any residue using water and allow to dry. 

For silver, use silver polish to give your jewellery an extra shine as well as removing any signs of tarnishing. 

You can use a similar method of soap and water for cleaning precious and semi-prescioius stones such as emeralds, sapphires and opals. However, Goldsmiths advises using lukewarm water because anything hotter could damage or crack the stones.  

Diamonds can be cleaned with a mix of ammonia and water to help them gleam and not damage them in the process. 

Goldsmiths said: ‘Pearls can be very delicate, however, unlike a lot of other jewellery, they actually get more luminous with wear due to the oils in your skin.’ 

They said you can clean pearls yourself, but to do it gently and with a soft cloth and nothing else, adding: ‘This will remove a lot of dust and dirt that can get trapped in between pearls, as well as help to remove any marks without using chemicals.’ 

For costume jewellery, you can use a mixture of water and baking soda applied using a soft cloth or a soft brush to reduce scratching and give the pieces a new lease of life, while toothpaste is a handy alternative and can also be used. 

For stainless steel or other metal watches, the company said: ‘Watches get a lot of wear and tear but are often overlooked when it comes to cleaning. 

‘Whilst you should use water to clean them, it’s imperative that you don’t use too much and cause them damage. 

‘Using a soft cloth, remove any initial traces of dust and dirt from the time piece, then, dab a soft cloth or soft bristled brush into lukewarm (never steaming hot) water mixed with a drop or two of washing up detergent, and clean down the face and strap. 

‘You can then wipe down the watch, and if preferred, lightly spray the item with glass cleaner to give it added shine.’

They added that they recommend luxury watches be taken to a professional cleaner so they can do a thorough clean regularly. 

They said to never use a detergent or soap to clean a rubber strap on a sports watch, but to opt for a non-abrasive, lint-free cloth dipped only in water and dry once clean.   

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