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topic 0392

Cleaning jewelry with the stones present

A discussion started in 1996.
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I need to be able to clean normal gold and silver jewelry with the stones (if present), as well as the occasional base metal piece. Electrocleaning works much better than anything else to date in removing old cold cream, hand lotion, etc.

The major problems are related to pH. Where some base metals are present, they either dissolve or turn black. The second problem is solvable with rubber gloves,but handling small pieces becomes a serious problem.

Do you know of any formulations that are closer to neutral than the usual sodium carbonate or hydroxide mixes aside from buffering? If not can you suggest places in which to start looking ?

Thank for your time.

Lloyd Allen

Hi, Lloyd. I don't have the answer, but do have a couple of warnings for readers: first, remember that pearls are not gemstones and are subject to attack by chemicals. Second, don't mix metals in these solutions as gold may deposit on silver, silver on copper, etc.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Pine Beach, New Jersey


For cleaning jewelry, use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner [linked by editor to info at Amazon] with a mild alkaline solution ( Alconox [linked by editor to product info at Amazon] is easy to get) or something that has a little ammonia (there's one called Micro). Even Dawn dishwashing detergent might do the trick. The key is to give it some time for the cleaner and ultrasonics to break through the built up oils, makeup, etc. Normally five minutes is a decent cycle. Rinse well when the cleaning is done.

bill vins
Bill Vins
microwave & cable assemblies
Mesa (what a place-a), Arizona 



I would like to know what household products (if any) would clean silver jewelry the best as well as gold?

Amanda [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]


To answer your question regarding any household products to clean silver.

I saw this on an old episode of Martha Stewart.

Boiling water
baking soda [linked by editor to product info at Amazon]
Aluminum Foil
Glass pan

Take your glass pan and line the inside with tin foil.

Pour enough baking soda to line the whole bottom of pan.

Take your silver and put it in the baking soda.

Bring your water to a boil, and pour over jewelry.

Immediately you will see the chemical reaction cleaning the silver. Let it sit in the boiling water until it stops bubbling!

Hurray Clean Silver!

Venesa Rhodes
- Santa Monica, California

Ed. note: See also letter 4785 which includes dozens of comments and details on this process.

Electrolytic Cleaning Plate


That Martha Stewart trick with the glass pan, tin foil and baking soda. That worked awesome. I thought my silver jewelry was destroyed. With this trick and a toothbrush my jewelry looks brand new. Thanks for the great tip.

Chad Link
- Thornton, Colorado

ed. note: I don't think we'll concede it to Martha Stewart, though. I have a commercial aluminum electrolytic cleaning plate that was manufactured and sold before she was born -- probably before aluminum became a commodity :-)

April 10, 2009

I have a 2 piece white gold ring. It's as if it's one ring over another, with very little space in between them, almost nothing can reach in there. The other day I got really bored, and tried to get a piece of thin paper to go in there, and after about 10 minutes I successfully got the corner of it in there. But it came out black :|. What kind of solution can I leave it in, that would not damage the ring but would eventually clean out that stuff in the middle?

John piolawski
buyer - reseda, california

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