Purchasing fine jewelry and watches is a huge decision, as these pieces can stay with you for years and can be passed down through generations. To keep your collection shining and to ensure its longevity, it’s important to take extra care of your collection. While fine jewelry can last a lifetime, it requires continuous care and cleaning.

To learn how to care for specific gemstones, use our gemstone guide.

Basic Cleaning Tips

Wipe jewelry after every wear. Use a clean, soft, slightly damp cloth to wipe jewelry after wearing to remove any lotions. This will enhance the jewelry’s luster and will ensure that it is clean before storage.

There are many cleaners on the market, but Windex is an easy and affordable cleaner that is safe for most metals and gems. For a deeper clean and removing buildup, spray the Windex or cleaner onto a soft-bristled toothbrush and gently clean the piece, getting to all small crevices. When done, wipe down with a soft cloth.

Ultrasonics, or jewelry cleaning machines, are also options for deep cleaning. However, this may be too harsh for delicate pieces and softer gemstones. The best method is taking your jewelry to a professional jeweler – like Jewelers of America Member stores – and have your piece professionally cleaned at least once a year. When taking a piece in or purchasing, ask your jeweler what cleaning tips they recommend to care for your piece at home.

What to Avoid

Keep fine jewelry away from chlorine and salt water! Remove all jewelry before going into a hot tub or swimming pool or salt water. Chlorine or salt water can damage and discolor metals such as gold and platinum and can slowly erode the finish and polish of gemstones.

Don't wear jewelry when applying sunscreen, lotions, and when in the shower. These products cause a film to form on your jewelry, making it appear dull and dingy.

Be wary when wearing jewelry during a workout – be sure the pieces are secure and will not get in the way. While necklaces and studs or small hoops may be safe, rings and bracelets can get snagged, scratched or chipped on equipment. It is highly recommended to take off engagement rings when working out.

Similarly, precious jewelry should be removed for any jobs or hobbies that require manual labor, such as landscaping, construction or contact sports.

The summer season can be harsh on fine jewelry due to interactions with water, sun and sand. The end of summer, or after a beachy vacation, is a great time to take your piece to a jeweler for maintenance.

How to Store Fine Jewelry & Watches

The safest place for storing treasured pieces is in an organized, clean jewelry box. Storing jewelry properly will help ensure it will last and also allow you to see your jewelry so you can wear it more regularly. Also, be sure where you are storing your jewelry is dry and fairly temperature-controlled, meaning it should not be close to any heaters, air conditioning units, humidifiers or radiators.

Don't Jumble Your Jewelry
Keep jewelry in a fabric-lined jewelry case or in a box with numerous compartments and dividers. If you prefer to use ordinary boxes, wrap each piece individually in soft tissue paper – this keeps your jewelry untangled, unscratched and will help prevent tarnishing. The problem with a lot of jewelry boxes is that they don’t have enough compartments, causing your jewelry to get jumbled and tangled together. Look for a style with many small compartments, instead of fewer, larger sections.

Separate Everyday Jewelry
Jewelry that is worn often can be placed it in a smaller jewelry box or in jewelry trays, which are more accessible. Find one that matches your style so it can be left on top of a dresser. Keeping jewelry in an easy-to-reach spot will help you find what you need and remind you of what you have. For pieces that are irreplaceable, a secure safe is the best option for storage.

Hang It Up
There are a variety of organizers that have hanger-like hooks with numerous clear pouches. Those styles are a great way to keep your earrings separate and visible. Place one pair of earrings in each pouch to ensure that the posts will not scratch the other earrings. Hang them on the back of your closet door or even hanging in your closet.

Jewelry organizers with hangers for necklaces is another great option – laying necklaces next to or on top of each other can cause knotting and many types of chains can get kinks. Hanging them up can prevent them from becoming a tangled mess and needing repairs.

While you can follow all the above cleaning and storage tips, the best way to care for fine jewelry is taking it to a reputable jeweler for a professional cleaning to maintain its luster and sparkle. You can find a trustworthy jewelry store near you in our Find a Jeweler directory of Jewelers of America members.

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Jewelers of America

In 1906, Jewelers of America was founded by jewelers for jewelers, with a desire to advance the professionalism and ethics of the jewelry industry.

Today, we continue that mission and Jewelers of America Members stand as the most trustworthy, informed and professional jewelry businesses within the United States.