Care of Your Fine Jewelry
Most metals will tarnish over time. This includes sterling silver. It isn't anyone's fault...it just happens. Cleaning and polishing sterling silver can be done with a polishing cloth - available at most drugstores or general retailers such as Target. Do not use chemicals when cleaning jewelry that includes pearls or other sensitive gemstones.
Keep your jewelry stored properly. Dampness, air, and light can cause a piece to tarnish so the optimal method for storing sterling silver jewelry is in an airtight non-reactive container such as the zipper bags your jewelry was mailed to you in. If stored in individual plastic, resealable bags, you can avoid most tarnishing & damage issues.
You should always remove your jewelry before using any type of product with chemicals or abrasives such as chlorine, bleach, ammonia, alcohol, turpentine or acetone. That includes finger nail polish, dish detergent, makeup, and even hair spray! Many of these products can permanently damage the silver as well as gemstones.
To remove light dirt, fingerprints or makeup just use a couple drops of mild liquid detergent (such as baby shampoo or Woolite) in a cup of warm water and rinse thoroughly with clean fresh water. Dry it completely and lightly buff with a cotton cloth. Always use a lengthwise motion when washing or drying your jewelry, as a circular motion often causes scratching.
If you decide to use a chemical / commercial cleaner or dip, please do not place any natural stones or materials that will be ruined such as pearls, lapis, coral, turquoise, opals, and many others. These stones can be ruined from the chemicals.
Gold should never need polishing, although it may need a gentle cleaning. It can be dulled by hairspray, lotion, skin oil and other parts of daily life. Use a mild detergent (like dishwashing soap) in a bowl with warm water ... use a toothbrush or small brush to clean your gold jewelry. A soft cotton, lint-free, cloth can also be used for minor cleaning
Pearls need to be handled. Leaving them locked in a jewelry box is not a good way to care for them - they can dry out and crack. The pearls need our skin to keep them lustrous. And after you wear them, gently wipe them with a clean, dry cloth. If you can't wear them as often as you'd like, at least take them out once in awhile and run them through your hands. But never ever wear your pearls when spraying hairspray, perfume, or any other harsh chemicals. Do NOT use any commercial cleaning products on your pearls. They are much too harsh and will damage the lustre of your pearls.
Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber should only be wiped clean with moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular. Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner, never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light.
Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, require special care because they are rocks, not crystals of a single mineral like transparent gems. There gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolor it. Never use and ultrasonic cleaner and never use ammonia or any chemical solution.