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How to Safely Clean Gemstone, Pearl, Leather & Gold Vermeil Jewelry

How to Safely Clean Gemstone, Pearl, Leather & Gold Vermeil Jewelry


Can you feel Spring in the air? We are already feeling it up in the Rockies, and have been busy cleaning out corners, organizing our jewelry boxes, and polishing off the tarnish. Memories of "Spring Cleaning Day" from our childhood resurface, and the to-do lists are getting made… and crossed off. It's the season! In this spirit, we are embracing "the clean."

We get people in all the time that ask us how to best clean their jewelry, so here is a helpful guide, ladies! Wear your beauties with freshness and sparkle this Spring. We also have cleaning kits for $10 which include everything you need mentioned below. 

Cleaning Sterling Silver Jewelry with Gems & Pearls

Cleaning KitWe use a wonderful, all-natural, eco-friendly paste and soft toothbrush for cleaning intricate pieces. It is biodegradable, non-toxic, and made from Coconut and Banana Fibers, making this paste safe for your home and all the beautiful stones and pearls Harmony uses in her jewelry. At a sink, use luke-warm water, and dip your soft bristled toothbrush in a little bit of cleaning paste (don't use a hard toothbrush or you leave behind scratches). Hold the jewelry as firmly as you can to scrub it without yanking it around too much. It doesn't take too much--practice on a little area until you get the hang of it. Rinse and dry!  

Why the trouble? Sterling silver is easy to clean, but it is the gemstones, pearls, and delicate wrapping that we must be kind to. Many of the sterling silver cleaning solutions are intended for silverware, not porous gemstones, like Turquoise and Jade, leather, or pearls. We have seen too many pearls stripped of their luster from industrial silver polish!

Why Does Sterling Silver Tarnish?

Tarnish happens! There is a false expectation for sterling silver not to tarnish, but it is guaranteed to oxidize (tarnish) by nature of the composition. Harmony uses sterling silver that is 95% silver, and 5% Copper, a high-quality silver mix beyond the typical 92.5% silver requirement, and copper is considered hypo-allergenic (rather than Nickel as an alternative). To slow down the tarnish process, store your jewelry in a protected place—pouches in a jewelry box, or plastic bags are the best! If you keep your jewelry in the bathroom, or wear it as you spray on perfume, sunscreen, or rinse your hair in the shower, you are covering it with air pollutants which tarnish silver. 

Cleaning Leather Jewelry

To clean leather jewelry without getting it wet, we recommend using a sterling silver polishing cloth. It's simple, but can be tedious. Just take the cloth and gently rub the silver wire. It pulls the tarnish right off (impressive to see just how much!) and saves the leather. 

Why keep it dry? Walk through a river with your leather shoes on, and they are going to stretch, then get stiff, then soft, and then stretch some more. So will your leather jewelry! You want to avoid getting leather wet, and if it does, just take it off and let it dry. Best practice for your leather jewelry: take it off before showering, swimming, or long dances in rain storms. 

Gold Plated Jewelry

Gold plated jewelry is essentially sterling silver dipped in a bath of 22kt gold, creating a fine layer of 22kt gold over silver. We love the rich, beautiful (affordable) option of the gold plating, but it can be turned silver without proper care (and sometimes, even with it). The best way to clean gold plated jewelry is in an ionic cleansing bath, which gently removes the tarnish using electric pulses, and is a service we offer for free in our Carbondale shop. If you don't have one (most people don't), you can use some of the paste in our cleaning kit and soft cloth to gently work away tarnish. Don't rub too hard! You'll rub the gold right off if you're not careful.


Harmony's $10 cleaning kits include two polishing cloths (for leather pieces), 2 oz jars of eco-friendly cleaning paste, and a soft toothbrush (for silver, pearls & gems). Bring in your jewelry and we can get you set up with a cleaning kit and answer any of your


Happy Spring Cleaning!

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