Top three money-saving ways to clean your jewelry

A friend of mine used to own a lumber mill. He made over $200,000 a year in the 1960’s. He would chuckle and say that, “No matter how much money you make, you can’t afford everything you want.” It’s true; everyone has a budget. No matter how large your budget is, everyone wants to make their money go as far as possible. Below are some more of my favorite money savers.

Jewelry Cleaning Solution

Ultrasonic cleaners are the fastest method for cleaning jewelry. Unfortunately, they break stones. A thorough inspection of a gem, to insure it has no microscopic fractures, requires a fair amount of time. Some busy stores avoid the inspections and accept that they will replace a certain amount of gems. Both methods are costly.

The great advantage of an ultrasonic cleaner is not from its sonic waves that vibrate grime loose; it is from the solution. While they are packaged up as expensive, “secret formulas” they are nothing more that a common, sudsy ammonia solution. Sudsy ammonia solutions are sold as common cleaning products. In the US they are sold under the trade names of “409” and “Fantastic.”

These common products work as well as the secret formulas. To clean your jewelry, simply let it soak overnight. To speed up the process, warm the solution first. That reduces the cleaning time to an hour or two. When finished soaking, remove any remaining grime with a small brush and then give it a rinse.     As well as this works, you have to be careful about putting a heat sensitive gem in a hot solution. You could break an opal. Also, do not use this with pearls or porous stones.

Miracle Silver Polish

Line the bottom of a deep, non-metallic, container with aluminum foil. Fill it with hot water and add a handful of washing soda, (about $2 a box.) Place your silver items in the pot, so they are touching the aluminum foil. You will see the tarnish fade in a couple minutes. Remove the pieces and buff them dry with a soft towel. Do not let them air dry. The solution removes the tarnish, but it is the buffing that brings out the shine.

Use this technique with plated or solid silver items. You will find that it works well with most items, but not all. This has been cleverly packaged and sold on US television for $24.99, plus shipping!

What is Washing Soda, and how is it different than baking soda?

I have shared this secret with other people in the past. Many of them were unfamiliar with washing soda and asked about it. Washing soda is similar, but a slightly different formula than baking soda. It has been used for centuries for cleaning laundry. While some stores do not carry it, when you do find it, it will be on the same shelves as other laundry products.

To use it for clothing, mix 1/3 bar of grated Fels Naptha, (or other bar type, laundry soap,) in a saucepan with 3 pints water. Heat on low until the soap is dissolved. Stir in 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of borax. Stir this mixture until thickened, and then remove it from the heat. Add one quart hot water to a five gallon bucket. Add the soap mixture and stir. Fill the bucket with cold water and stir again. Set it aside for 24 hours or until the mixture has jelled. Use 1/2 cup per load.

You can put some in a smaller, easier to handle container. This needs to be shaken before every use and the large container needs stirring before refilling your small bottle. However, that is the only disadvantage. This mixture does an excellent job of cleaning clothes; it does not have any perfumes and is biodegradable. Of course, its greatest advantage is that five gallons cost about the same as a half-gallon of a commercial product!

About the author
Donald Clark, CSM IMG
Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters "CSM" after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff's ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book "Modern Faceting, the Easy Way."
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