Good as new: How to clean jewelry naturally

For couples, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate the special love between two people.

But for retailers, February 14 is a day for big consumer spending. The average Canadian household will spend $37 on Valentine’s Day gifts this year, according to The Retail Council of Canada. (Fun fact: Ontarians, are more likely to buy jewelry for their special someone than residents in any other province).

So, if you’re lucky enough to get a bracelet, necklace or – gasp! – engagement ring for Valentine’s Day, follow these easy tips to keep your jewelry sparkling and new for years to come.

Cleaning Silver

-To remove tarnish from silver pieces without gemstones, try a soaking bath. Line a glass roasting pan with aluminum foil, dull side facing down. Put silver pieces on top of the aluminum foil. Pour about 1 litre of boiling water over the pieces and add 2 tbsp. of baking soda. Allow the silver to soak for five minutes, or until the water is cool enough to touch. Dry the silver with a clean polishing cloth.

-If your silver piece contains gemstones, do not submerge it in water; water can rust or discolor your settings or cause the stones to become loose and fall out over time. Toothpaste, with its mild cleaning agents and gentle abrasives, is an effective single-ingredient cleaner for polishing tarnished silver. Apply the toothpaste to silver with a clean cloth. Avoid touching the gemstones. For intricate pieces, use a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush. Let the pieces air dry by placing them upside-down on a clean cloth.

Cleaning Gold and Platinum

-To clean gold or platinum jewelry that doesn’t have gemstones, use a mixture of soap and water. Fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid. Submerge your gold jewelry in the mixture. Let the jewelry soak for 20 minutes, then rinse the jewelry thoroughly under running water. Dry the gold with a clean polishing cloth.

-Never submerge gold or platinum jewelry with gemstones under water. Instead, dampen a clean cloth with the soap-and-water mixture mentioned above. Gently wipe down the piece, then use a cloth that has been dampened with water to clean off the soap. Let the pieces air dry by placing it upside-down on a clean cloth.

Cleaning Copper

-Pure copper jewelry (without gemstones) requires an mildly acidic solution to remove tarnish. Fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of pure lemon juice and a teaspoon of salt. Submerge your copper jewelry in the mixture. Let the jewelry soak for 20 minutes, then rinse the jewelry thoroughly under running water. Dry the gold with a clean polishing cloth.

-The same rule applies to copper jewelry as with gold and silver: do not submerge pieces containing precious stones in water. For these pieces, you can use ketchup (yes, ketchup!) to clean the piece. Add a small amount of ketchup to the copper with a clean cloth, or use a clean, soft-bristled toothbrush. Let the pieces air dry by placing them upside-down on a clean cloth.