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Cleaning jewelry

To All, Today I had a repair( hinged multi link bracelet with diamond
clusters) that needed a good cleaning before work began.I did the
usual,hot ultrasonic for a long while(30min)in a new solution, then
as good a steaming as I could get to(actually,not to hard to get
behind dia’s). But as soon as I put it under heat…WHEW! Well you
all know THAT smell. Like burning fingernails on a stick, to put it
nicely. What is the BEST way to clean jewelry? Or rather, What works
BEST for you? Thanks in advance for your input! Thomas in Hilton Head
SC where the Atl. ocean is 87 degrees today

Assuming the stones (in this case they would) will stand it, soak the
piece in a solution of water and lye (sodium hydroxide). Lye attacks
lots of oils, greases, soaps & is very caustic to skin & flesh.


Thomas I’ve heard of folks boiling jewelry in lye, but I’m not into
the caustic stuff. I have used “Pure Magic,” available at your fav
jewelry supply house, with much success. Especially good on the
really grungy repairs that you use a towel to pick up and wouldn’t
dare touch with your fingers!! Much success…

Bob Staley
B.Staley, Goldsmiths
Precision Laser Welding

Hello Thomas: I use a cleaning solution from Stuller inc. called
"Ultra-CR" in a 3 parts water 1 part solution mix, it is the second
best solution I have used. The best I have found is Amway brand "Zoom"
in the same 3 to 1 mix . The problem with Zoom is the vapor coming off
of the heated solution is not good for you to breath.

Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas USA

What is the BEST way to clean jewelry? Or rather, What works BEST
for you? Thanks in advance for your input! 

G’day; Suggest that the cleaning solution you used was woefully
inadequate. When things are both intricate and scruffy, You really
need a very hot solution containing a substance with a very low pH -
such as tri sodium phosphate, or even caustic soda; the latter will
turn any organic greases and oils into soap! It won’t affect silver
or gold alloys; but it will gollup up aluminium at a great rate! It
might also go for some gemstones if kept in the ultrasonic for more
than a minute of two which should be adequate. Cheers.

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ

Tom: Just a thought. The next time you get a “stinker”, you might
try this. Soak that puppy in a solution of household ammonia over
night. It would be nice if the solution was warmed. Take one of
those coffee cup warmer “hot plates”, you now the kind that really
keeps coffee warm…not HOT. Then scrub with a tooth brush and steam
clean. Then ultrasonic clean and again steam clean. I know this
sounds like a involved process but it sure beats the smell of old
body oils, dead skin flakes cemented by hand lotion and SPF 900 sun
block. Some day when you are really in the mood for a “stinker”, try
fixing a 10 year old denture. (G R I N )

Mike & Dale
Lone Star Technical Service
The ultrasonic repair guys

There is some jewelery that is brought in and i honestly tell the
customer “this has to soak in the cleaner for a couple of days” and
unfortunately that is what you have to do…one of the most
important things before you clean a peice of jewelery (especially one
with stones) is to make sure it is IMMACULATELY clean. dirt will do
anything from discolor the gold to burn the stones. Unfortunately
not everyone takes real good care of their jewelery and you need to
clean the peice properly from the beginning that will cut down on the
clean time in the end. And I know that anyone who has heated
something with dia mele in it that is dirty…you will spend days
trying to get the black burn from under the stones…(sometimes even
having to take the stones out and clean under them.) It is time
consuming, but it is necessary for the repair to be done properly
with the least amount of damage to the peice. -julia

When I was first starting out in the jewelry trade, nearly a quarter
century ago, I worked for a bench man who did service for the trade.
Every article we worked on, we cleaned, if it was possible. We kept
a one quart sauce pan full of water with a couple tablespoons of
powdered “Spic and Span” cleaner in it at a low boil, just barely
simmering. We would suspend the articles on wire hooks in the
solution. You could see the crud foam out of the piece in seconds.
I believe it actually cleaned better than an ultrasonic, which we
didn’t have. Certain articles were not safe in this solution,
however. The following weren’t submitted to this proceduRe:

pearls silver lapis, turquoise, tanzanite, peridot, and other very heat
sensitive stones inlay of any sort any article we suspected heat and
alkalinity might adversely affect

Now, Spic and Span is mostly made up of various phosphates with a
little fragrance added. I suspect any high-phosphate cleaner would
work to one degree or another.

David L. Huffman

at our shop we use a small jar with lid and put it in the ultrasound
with simple green in it. I can not think of an instance where it has
let us down. Simple green works on organic substances, I.E. human
goo, that strange caked gray matter. It does not clean polishing
compounds very well but for organic matter I don’t belive you can beat

Rick in KC

What is the BEST way to clean jewelry? Or rather, What works BEST
for you? Thomas, 

I find that I can’t work on anything that has multiple moving parts,
ie. chains, bracelets, watch bands etc., without soaking it in the
ultrasonic overnight. I keep my solution pretty clean and my usual
procedure is to secure the item in the ultrasonic and turn the dial
on for the longest time possible just before I leave for the day (it
has a setting for an hour). Then before I leave I will turn off the
heater and let it run. It sits in the hot soultion and soaks till I
get back. When I return I will turn the machine on for about 10
minutes then steam it dry. Really filthy items may have to be in the
ultrasonic longer. If you steam the item and smell any odor at all
you will need to ultrasonic the item longer. Dirt will get into the
small crevices of the hinges and just not come out unless you take
herculean proceedures.

Larry Seiger

Hello All:

 you might try this.  Soak that puppy in a solution of household
ammonia  >over night. 

Ammonia and ammoniated cleaners have been used by jewelers for a long
time. It has come to light in the last few years that ammonia is
actually bad for gold. Soaking a gold ring in ammonia will eventually
corrupt the gold causing it to become more brittle.

Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas USA

I agree that spic and span which is tri-sodium phosphate, works well
to remove gunk from jewelry, but the problem that I have had is I
can’t find it in the powder form any more. I have even used it to
remove lacquer spray from hair in my salon, so I know that it works
on jewelry. Roxan

The auditorium ceiling of the Metropolitan Opera House in NY is
covered in gold leaf. Someone cleaned it with ammonia. It’s now

My trivial two cents…

Roxan, I have a box of Spick and Span, on the side of the box it
lists the phone numbersfor any questions you may have (where to buy
some more?) 800-543-1745 …Good Luck…Susan Chastain

The auditorium ceiling of the Metropolitan Opera House in NY is
covered in gold leaf. Someone cleaned it with ammonia. It's now

I’d be surprised if gold leaf turned green, I personally suspect it
wasn’t. (there is no reaction whatever between gold and ammonia.)
Sounds like 24 carat brass to me! Just my farden’s worth. –

John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua Nelson NZ