Closet 101 Style

Closet Care – Jewelry

Since my first “Closet Care” post concentrated on bags and shoes, today I thought I would show you how I clean and take care of another segment of accessories – jewelry. I love all kinds of jewelry and most of my pieces have a very specific memory or celebration associated with them. I try to take as good of care of them as possible!  I’ve had a few requests for this post and so tried to be as thorough as possible and document all the steps.

For me, the first step of taking care of jewelry is actually right when you get home each day – take it off! Just like how I change straight into pajamas when I get home, I also take off all of my jewelry. It helps to reduce wear and tear, especially during activities like cooking, cleaning, and the like.

All right – now onto the cleaning! About once a week on the weekend, I do a quick cleaning of the jewelry I’ve worn most that week. The whole process takes about ~10 minutes at the most. Here are the basics you need: some gentle dishwashing detergent (I use Method’s), a small dish or bowl, a microfiber cloth, and a soft bristled toothbrush (not shown).


The first thing I do is squirt a tiny amount of dishwashing liquid into the bowl.


Then, I mix it with warm to very warm water, which creates a good lathery mix.

Foamed soap

After that, I drop all of the NON jeweled, except for diamond (this is important) items into here – items like my wedding ring/band, pendants, my stud earrings. Please don’t put anything but diamond items in here without checking with somebody knowledgeable! Especially anything like pearls.

Then, I putter around the house and let the items soak for about 30 minutes to an hour.

After the time has elapsed, I come back and drop my watch in for about a minute. The watches I clean in this way are water resistant up to a certain degree – but before I drop them in, I always check that the gaskets are screwed in nice and tight. 

Watch cleaning

Then I drop them in! My watches could probably soak for the entire time but I usually don’t let them sit for that long because I’m still a little paranoid about the water (though nothing has ever happened).

Dipping the watch

After a minute with my watch has passed, I take it out first and rinse it under lukewarm water under the sink, while concurrently scrubbing in between the links, etc with my soft toothbrush.

Cleaning watch

Then I rinse the whole thing off…

Rinsing watch

And pat dry with a clean soft towel.

Wiping watch

I repeat the same process for the rest of my jewelry and will stroke the toothbrush gently back and forth over areas that are more likely to accumulate gunk – settings, pave work, etc.

And rinse dry, and towel off.

After all of my items from the dish are done and drying nicely on the towel, I then work on any more delicate items I have, with the microfiber cloth. For me, the items are usually my pearl earrings/necklaces and onyx necklaces. I worry that the soap may be too strong for them and so simply wipe them down carefully with a clean cloth, making sure to get the edges. I have a huge supply of these from airline amenity kits which seem to always include them.

Cleaning Alhambra

Note that with any visible dirt/marks that aren’t coming off, I will sometimes wet a paper towel very, very lightly and use that to wipe down my pearl items. It’s worked fine for me without any damage but please proceed with caution!

After all my jewelry is clean, I go back and store them (or put them on for the day). Storing your jewelry properly is really key – it protects them from dust and all kinds of other accidents. Plus I know that if I didn’t put my pieces in the same place each night, I’d probably lose them!

Most of my day to day pieces go in a little crystal bamboo box that was a gift from Tiffany. I like crystal/glass/Lucite containers since you can easily see what’s inside. Muji has some great ones.

Jewelry in bamboo box

Even though you see my pearl necklace in the box above, if I know I’m not going to wear it for a few days, I’ll usually put it back into a soft pouch (I have a bunch from various jewelry purchases that I hoard) to keep it from getting accidentally scratched.

And…there you go! My tips on keeping your jewelry clean and pristine.

As always…please share your tips for caring for jewelry and accessories! I always love to learn about them.

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  • Lara
    May 31, 2013 at 7:56 am

    Thanks so much for sharing. It was very helpful. I really need to start doing this too. Also, you have beautiful jewelry, and I love the watch. I wish I could wear a daytona, or any mens watch for that matter, without it looking silly on my abnormally small wrist.

    • Katherine
      May 31, 2013 at 9:00 am

      Thanks Lara! I have a small wrist and I thought a men’s watch would look too large – I made the switch a while ago though and love it! I’d recommend going in person to try them on 🙂 One look that I love but that I currently find too heavy though – men’s gold watches! I love the look though.

  • Adele
    May 31, 2013 at 9:09 am

    I’m glad it’s not just me that cleans our Rolex’s like that!!! As for the rest of my jewellery, they all get taken off & put back in their original boxes, I never leave them out!
    Have a fab weekend Hun xoxo

  • Amanda
    May 31, 2013 at 9:30 am

    I did this in a glass with my jewelry once and left it out on the table when I was finished. My husband came home and drank from the glass before I could stop him while I was in the middle of yelling out don’t drink that! He was not impressed, but my jewelry looked great! Thanks for the great tips!

    • Katherine
      May 31, 2013 at 9:54 am

      LOL. I love this story!!

  • Ammu
    May 31, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    You are brave to wash your watches! I always get them professionally cleaned and polished when they start to look a little grubby.
    I use hand soap and a toothbrush to clean gold and toothpaste to clean silver jewelry.
    P.S. you have lovely nails! So shiny and healthy.

    • Katherine
      June 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

      I probably need to send some of my watches in for a polish as well…thank you for your kind comments about my nails! 🙂

  • Vicky
    June 1, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Thanks for sharing! I drop my head in shame. I barely ever clean my jewelry. The only thing I clean is my wedding ring. And I use a store bought jewelry cleaner. They don’t seem to get dirty somehow. Maybe because I do store them properly and like you mentioned, take them off when I get home. I do need to clean my watch though which does get a bit yucky. lol. Will try the dishsoap on the band only. I’m very paranoid to soak the whole watch in water, even though it does say water resistant. 🙂 Have a great weekend.

    • Katherine
      June 1, 2013 at 9:18 am

      You too Vicky! And don’t feel bad, it’s great that your jewelry still looks shiny and ne w:)

  • Ava
    June 1, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Hi Katherine – such an interesting post! I wish it was longer! 🙂 Hope you had a great trip and glad to read your newest post! I am curious which silver polish or silver cleaning liquid works best for you. I have both a cloth and a few different cleaning liquids, but one of them says “known to cause cancer in the state of CA” which is disturbing, of course. Also, this is a great jewelry storage option:
    I bought this for my sister and filled each of the five drawers with different velour trays (their’s are super soft and very well made) and her husband was thrilled. It was a great way for her to organize all her jewelry . . . especially after I bought her more little trinkets to fill it up with 🙂 which her hubby wasn’t too thrilled with since she probably now needs another two sets of drawers. The only down side, I have to say, is that the acrylic drawers don’t lock into place if you lift and move it around.

    Could you post a link for the Uniqlo containers you were referring to, please? I looked up Uniqlo and didn’t see any containers.

    In my jewelry care the only different thing I do is how I care keep my long necklaces. Long necklaces, like your Alhambra (gorgeous, by the way) is I lay them flat on a long felt, and then wrap the necklace to protect the individual stones/pearls from potentially scratching each other in the pouch. But, that’s only if I know I won’t wear it in the next few days. Also, for my watches, I make sure to put them back in their case or on their pillow (if it came with one) and then wrap that back into their original box/pouch.

    This was a superbe post. Would have loved to have seen your jewelry closet in all it’s glory 🙂
    Have a lovely weekend!

    • Katherine
      June 3, 2013 at 4:43 pm

      Ava thank you, I meant to say Muji all along – total fail when I wrote Uniqlo, I’ve corrected it in the post! So sorry. That is a great tip about the necklaces – right now I just dump them in a pouch and I think they are probably already quite a bit scratched so that is done!

  • Ella Pretty Blog
    June 1, 2013 at 8:09 pm

    Katherine – you always come up with the most helpful and practical post ideas (like how you maintain your Bal bag) – LOVE reading them and then looking through the comments for other tips!

    My only jewelry cleaning tip is a “use-at-your-own-risk” one…my husband bought me a silver tiffany pendant (it’s the marrakesh one which has a lot of intricate work)…once it tarnished I tried EVERYTHING to get it shiny & new – I used the tiffany polishing cloth, tried specialty jewelry cleaners…nothing worked.

    Then I used the trick I used in high school to keep my silver rings shiny & new…I brushed it with toothpaste and a soft bristled toothbrush….now it looks shiny as the day I got it 🙂

    • Katherine
      June 3, 2013 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you for the tip – I need to try that next time with my silver pieces. I have a little felt cloth for polishing silver but I hate the feeling of it.

  • Ahka Vintage
    June 2, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I need to do that with my pieces too!
    Join our $150 dress giveaway!

  • Lorrie
    July 4, 2013 at 10:18 am

    I have a Rolex oyster perpetual. Is it ok for me to soak it in water like you did? Thanks.

    • Katherine
      July 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      It should be water resistant and OK, but I’d check with a local store first. Be careful though and make sure that the crown (the little knobs) are all screwed down very tight!