Costume jewelry can be really pretty even if it is not made of precious gems. But keeping it beautiful can be a task. Costume jewelry can’t take wear-and-tear the way fine jewelry can. It tarnishes from water, air exposure and even creams and lotions. So, learning how to care for your items so that they remain beautiful for as long as possible is key, especially if you want to wear them for years to come.
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This article has over 324,310 views, and 95% of readers who voted found it helpful. It also received 13 testimonials from readers, earning it our reader approved status. Costume jewelry can be really pretty even if it is not made of precious gems. But keeping it beautiful can be a task.
Costume jewelry can’t take wear-and-tear the way fine jewelry can. It tarnishes from water, air exposure and even creams and lotions. So, learning how to care for your items so that they remain beautiful for as long as possible is key, especially if you want to wear them for years to come.
Collect the jewelry that needs to be cleaned. There’s no hard and fast rule as to when it should be cleaned. Generally, the rule of thumb is the more you wear it, the more frequently you need to clean it. Clean it about once every few months or when it starts to look dull. • Remember that fake jewelry is not genuine or sterling silver and does not have precious gemstones. Even though sterling does tarnish, it should not be cleaned the way you would clean fake jewelry or costume jewelry.
"Real" gold does not tarnish at all. • If you are having trouble deciding what is classified as fake jewelry and what is real, keep in mind that plated jewelry is considered "authentic." Since the top layer of metal is authentic silver or gold, it is considered "real" jewelry, even though it is not solid gold or silver all the way through.
So, you can use regular jewelry cleaner to clean gold- and silver-plated jewelry instead of the methods provided. • If you’re not sure if a piece of jewelry is real or fake, have a jeweler test the metal and the gems for authenticity. Inspect the jewelry. Notice if it has any gemstones on it.
If it does, then you need to be careful how much liquid you apply around that area. • The liquid might get underneath the gemstones and loosen the glue under the gemstones, which might make them fall off later. Also, too much water could ruin the foil backing that makes fake gemstones appear sparkly. • Don’t let any water pool and slide under them so the glue holding them down doesn’t loosen. Try using a Q-tip or toothbrush to clean the jewelry.
These common products most people have in their homes work well to get at tough-to-clean crevices or around gemstones. You could also try a magic eraser. • Your Q-Tip should start to show signs of dirt and grime removal. The end of it should start to get dirty. • Make sure the toothbrush is new, and that it hasn't been used before.
You don't want to transfer material on an old toothbrush onto the jewelry. Obviously, don't use the toothbrush again after you use it to clean jewelry. • Rub the dry soft toothbrush or Q-Tip on the jewelry to remove verdigris. Verdigris is the green gunk that builds up on some costume jewelry. Q-Tips and soft toothbrushes are a bit more abrasive when they’re dry, so they may do a better job of scraping off the gunk. If you still can’t get it off, try using a toothpick. Try using on the fake jewelry.
Lemon has been used for a long time to rid jewelry of the oxide layer that forms on metals with the passage of time. You might want to add a little baking soda to the lemon. • Lemon is a natural acid and rubbing a half cut lemon on jewelry can hasten the process of cleaning. You can put the silver jewelry in a cup of lemonade with some salt for a night.
Lemon works especially well on silver. • You could juice a lemon in a small plate, and then rub this juice over the jewelry that you intend to clean, and then use a rough cloth (or scotch bright) to rub vigorously against the jewelry.
Try using a white vinegar and water solution. Soak the jewelry in the solution, and then use soft toothbrush to get into corners and holes.
• Cleaning fake jewelry in vinegar can leave the chains shiny. The soft bristle toothbrush can help if the jewelry contains gems by getting in cracks. You can simply apply the vinegar to a sponge, and use it to clean the jewelry. • Another natural product that can be used to clean jewelry is olive oil. Olive oil will make it shine, but make sure to wash it off. You could also use a dental tablet and dissolve it in water.
Then, let the jewelry soak for a bit and scrub gently with a toothbrush Try using hand soap and warm water. This not only increases the chances of making the jewelry look pretty, but it also makes it smell good. Put as little water on the jewelry as possible, though, and limit your jewelry's exposure to the water. Water can tarnish and rust costume jewelry if it sits for too long.
• Use a washcloth to gently clean the jewelry. It’s usually not a good idea to let fake jewelry soak in water for a long time as it can ruin the look or finish of the jewelry.
This approach can work well on gold jewelry with gemstones. • Or, pour hot water into a bowl. Place salt, soda, and dish-washing liquid into a bowl. Place the jewelry on top of foil, and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse the jewelry in cool water, and dry the jewelry completely with soft cloth. Use baby shampoo to clean the jewelry.
Baby shampoo is a milder shampoo, so it can be a good cleaning agent for fake jewelry. Shampoo can be a good approach to cleaning pearls, especially. • Mix together one drop each of baby shampoo and water. Use a soft toothbrush or Q-Tip to clean hard-to-reach spots. Mix it until it is about the consistency of a thick soup. If the mixture is too thick, add a few additional drops of water. • Rinse the baby shampoo off quickly in cool water, and dry with a clean, soft hand towel or microfiber cloth.
Use lens cleaner or toothpaste. There are many different cleaning products around the house that people often use to clean fake jewelry. Lens cleaner and toothpaste can be effective on some costume jewelry. • But be very careful! Read the instructions and cautions labels. Don't use lens cleaner on precious metals, and be aware that paint or finish may come off. Also, don't use if you have sensitive skin or on earrings. • Toothpaste is less problematic when it comes to cleaning jewelry.
Just apply the toothpaste to a brush, and rub it on the piece of jewelry. This method can be used on different forms of fake jewelry, such as bracelets. Purchase specifically made for jewelry. Fake or impure metals will deteriorate quickly if not using the correct polish. • You can buy polish for either gold or silver items in many jewelry or department stores. Keep in mind that some regular jewelry cleaners, usually meant for the real deal, are too harsh to use on costume pieces.
• Simply soak the piece of jewelry in the polish for no longer than 30 seconds, then remove and wipe it gently to avoid scraping or bruising the jewelry. You might want to use a toothbrush after dipping it into the solution.
Buy a bottle of from a drugstore or retail department. Then take a small bowl, and pour the alcohol into it. Soak the jewelry in it for half an hour. • Then take the jewelry out, and wipe off any excess alcohol on it. Leave it out to dry for 15 minutes. • If every part isn’t clean, wipe it with an alcohol wipe or repeat the process. You could put your earrings in peroxide, and let them soak at least 2 to 3 minutes.
The peroxide might bubble or fizz, which means your earrings are really dirty, and you should probably leave them in longer. • If it looks like you are rubbing off more of the finish than the gunk, then stop. You may be scrubbing too hard. Rub gently so you don’t mess up the finish. Rinse thoroughly. After applying the mixture and cleaning everything off, immediately rinse the piece off in cool water.
Rinse just enough to get the soapy water solution off of the jewelry. • Dry it with a blow dryer. Immediately after you rinse off your jewelry, place it on a towel to soak up any excess water. Blot away excess water with the towel. Then, set your blow dryer to a cool setting, and use your blow dryer to quickly dry the jewelry. • Move your blow dryer around the piece to distribute the air. Drying it quickly makes it less likely to rust and develop water spots. Continue drying the jewelry with the blow dryer until it is completely dry.
• Try not to hold the blow dryer directly above areas with gemstones for long periods of time especially if you decide to use a warmer setting. You don’t want the heat from blow dryer to melt the glue holding them down. False That's right! You want to exercise caution when using the blow dryer on jewelry that contains fake gems, as any setting, but especially a high heat setting, may cause the glue holding the gems to melt. Still, you don't have to skip using one at all, just be careful!
Read on for another quiz question. Spray perfume, hair spray, and rub on lotion before putting on your jewelry. Since anything water-based can potentially tarnish your costume jewelry, even perfume and lotions can tarnish the finish. • If you spray your perfume and put on your lotions first, you will reduce the chances they will coat the jewelry.
Wait until your body is dry. Then, put on your costume jewelry. • This should prevent some of the build-up on fake jewelry that makes it look dull and requires that you do frequent cleaning. Wipe down your jewelry daily. If you wipe your jewelry down with a clean microfiber cloth after each use, you won’t have to clean it as often. • It also will continue to look like new for longer periods of time. • Wiping it down daily also limits your jewelry exposure to water or anything that it might have been exposed to when you were wearing it that day.
Store your jewelry properly. You might try storing the jewelry in ziplock bags. Designate one piece per bag. Put the jewelry in. Squeeze all the air out of the bag. Then close it. • With the air removed, the metal cannot oxidize or turn green from exposure to the air. So, it will look cleaner and newer for a longer period of time. • Keeping your jewelry in a jewelry box that has a closing lid and a velvet lining limits your jewelry’s expose to air as well and also keeps it from being scratched.
Community Answer • Sorry, but the copper-gold is what happens when the plating wears off. There are some kits on the market if you want to plate the jewelry with silver or gold, but that's not always affordable or effective, depending on what the jewelry is made of.
The best you can do is prevent the oxidation and wear and tear on the jewelry by coating it with clear gloss or clear nail polish. Community Answer • Try spraying your costume jewelry with a clear gloss coat enamel spray.
This is the equivalent of coating your goods with spray enamel, which gives them a uniform shine and ensures that the metal won't oxidize (oxidation of copper makes your skin green). Just take a sheet of wax paper and lay it on a table outside. Place your fake jewelry on it. Shake the can of spray enamel and hold about six inches away.
Spray in short bursts until you've covered everything uniformly. Do not over spray, as a light passing over is enough. Make sure the stones are covered with clear or painter's tape. Also be sure to spray the backs of your jewelry.
To clean fake jewelry, first rub a soft, dry toothbrush or a Q-tip on it to remove any dirt or grime. Then dip a washcloth in warm, soapy water and use it to gently clean your jewelry. You can also make a white vinegar-water solution to use, or try lemon juice, which works especially well on silver.
Spot clean your jewelry rather than soak it, since water can tarnish or rust costume jewelry if it sits for too long. If these home remedies aren’t getting the job done, try a commercial jewelry polish. For more tips on cleaning fake jewelry, including how to use baby shampoo to clean pearls, read on!
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