Costume jewelry or fake jewelry can still look as beautiful as the day you bought them – if you know how to clean them correctly. There are several ways to do this:
Homemade jewelry cleaner using ammonia
Cleaning your fake jewelry with homemade jewelry cleaning ammonia is by far the easiest way to spruce up costume jewelry because all you will need is basically one part ammonia, and six parts of lukewarm water.
Some folks recommend a ratio of 1:1, but for the most part, this is probably going to tarnish your jewelry, so err on the conservative side this time and use a 1:6 ratio. If you’re not comfortable with using ammonia, there’s always vinegar, baking soda, and detergent as alternative cleaning agents.
How to clean
Pour the ammonia solution into a non-reactive basic (plastic is recommended) and submerge all the costume jewelry that needs to be cleaned. Let the solution work on the jewelry for about 10 minutes. There is no need to touch the jewelry or brush anything yet. The ammonia will be lifting the stains and dirt, allowing them to loosen from the surface of the jewelry for easier cleaning later.
After ten minutes, it’s time to clean your fake jewelry better with the DIY costume jewelry cleaner you just created. Grab an old or new toothbrush and start scrubbing away gently at your jewelry. (Tips: Be sure to use a soft-bristled toothbrush so you do not inadvertently damage the surface of your jewelry as this is possible with harder bristles.)
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How to clean fake gold jewelry?
Technically speaking, plated jewelry is considered authentic, so be careful when using a DIY costume jewelry maker on anything that seems to be made or plated with gold or silver. If you are not sure, it would be best to approach a jeweler and have your jewelry tested. You wouldn’t want to damage anything that might be more valuable than you think.
The rule of thumb for cleaning jewelry of all sorts is to go about it gently and focusing on the spaces between stones and the chains where dirt might be hiding. As we wear jewelry, the jewelry can collect an amazing amount of dust and grime, and these often mix with moisture and body oils. Eventually, even the most expensive jewelry starts to look aged because of the grime.
After the first brushing, place the jewelry back into the basic and wait another ten minutes. If tarnishing is present and the 1:6 ammonia solution doesn’t seem to be working, you can add a bit of mild detergent solution to the mix.
Mild dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent can be used – just a small amount to boost the cleansing solution with suds. Detergents are great for loosening and lifting tarnish from both metals and non-metals.
How to make fake silver jewelry?
Many costume jewelry has a silver look to them, which doesn’t always mean that they have silver – but nonetheless, it is possible to bring back that shine with some good old fashioned elbow grease: polishing.
After re-soaking your jewelry, it’s time to brush again with your soft-bristled toothbrush. Just let the soft bristles glide across the surface and take care to hit those irregular corners of the piece you’re cleaning to remove most, if not all, of the tarnish. Once the tarnish has been lifted, it’s time to get dry your costume jewelry.
The best type of cloth for jewelry cleaning will always be lint-free cloth because you don’t want the cloth to snag on the corners and protruding parts of the jewelry.
Rub the jewelry gently until you get the level of polish that you want. If you have some gold-plated or silver-plated jewelry, too, this works great on these pieces. After polishing your jewelry, make sure that you air dry them completely before placing them back into storage.
Costume jewelry cleaning reminders
Keep the following in mind to keep your jewelry in top shape:
- It is possible that you have a mix of costume jewelry and authentic ones made of real silver or gold. Make sure that you clean these two groups of jewelry separately. DIY cleaning solutions for fake jewelry are not appropriate for gold and silver. It’s possible to damage silver, and there is no real need to treat gold jewelry because real gold does not tarnish.
- In the event that your jeweler confirms that some of your jewelry is indeed gold-plated or silver-plated after all, you can purchase any garden variety jewelry cleaning solution on the market and use it on the plated ones.
- Costume jewelry that has gemstones on them need to be cleaned very carefully. Precious and semiprecious stones are often absorptive, and will easily take damage from exposure to a lot of moisture. That’s why jewels with embedded precious or semiprecious stones are always cleaned with very little water, and the owners often work around the stones to prevent any damage. Don’t risk it!
- It is a bad idea to soak costume jewelry with fake stones. Here’s why: those with ‘gemstones’ have a foil backing that helps create the “brilliant” look that makes the costume jewelry look real. Water can seep into the area where the foil backing is glued onto the metal and cause it to wrinkle or even come off. Glue can also loosen after years of adhering to the same surface and water just might push it loose.
- If you find it difficult to clean jewelry with a soft toothbrush, Q-tips can be just as effective. Crevices are known to frustrate many novice jewelry enthusiasts, and we empathize with you – it can be tough to remove the tarnish, even if you have already soaked the jewelry in ammonia. Q-tips are particularly useful in removing verdigris, or the accumulation of dust, body oils, and other particles in hard to reach areas of jewelry.
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