Consumer Reports: Best jewelry cleaners

February 15, 2011 3:15:34 PM PST
New jewelry that sparkles and shines in store cases can be so enticing.

But time and wear can tarnish it, so jeweler Sal D'Errico encourages his customers to clean jewelry regularly.

"It makes them fall back in love with it. It makes it look like the day it was born," D'Errico said.

What's the best way to clean jewelry? Consumer Reports ShopSmart has tested five cleaners. There were liquid ones that go for eight to 16 dollars, as well as two ultrasonic cleaning machines. These cost up to 50 dollars.

"To test our cleaners, we took watches, we took rings, and then we dirtied them with a synthetic skin oil, as well as hand lotion and hair spray," said Lisa lee Freeman of Consumer Reports.

All the cleaners performed about the same, and testers needed a brush to remove grunge left behind.

But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says you can "make your jewelry sparkle" with cleaners you have on hand.

For plain gold jewelry and diamonds, you can soak them in mild dishwashing liquid and water and use a soft toothbrush to clean the settings. Dry with a soft chamois cloth.

To clean silver, rub on a little non-gel toothpaste with a damp sponge, rinse, and buff with a soft cloth.

So while jewelers use some very impressive cleaning equipment, you, too, can get your jewelry to shine like new.

ShopSmart says when cleaning silver, first try a test spot in an inconspicuous place. When it comes to cleaning pearls, just use a soft cloth that can be dampened with a little tap water. Don't use anything abrasive.