How to Properly Care for Jewelry and Watches

Just like everything else, your valuable watches and jewelry will eventually need cleaning. Keeping your stuff clean is a good idea anyway but, if you’ve Googled “jewelry shops near me” and plan to pawn it, then cleaning should be at the top of your list, because it can get you more for cash loans. ‘Nuff said, right? We thought so.


But First: A Word About Patina

What is patina, exactly? Simply put, it’s the stuff on your jewelry that changes how the surface looks over a long period of time and wear. All too often, patina gets removed when vintage jewelry gets a deep cleaning.

Unfortunately, this is not a good thing. Wait, didn’t we just say that cleaning was a good thing? Yup, we did. So, why is it bad to remove patina? Because patina is what makes an antique piece beautiful and very valuable. It’s visual proof that the jewelry has been around for a while.

So, how do you clean a piece of jewelry that’s dirty without removing the patina? Very carefully and gently, with a touch that’s light as a feather. Just gently wipe the surface free of dirt. Don’t scrub it, don’t immerse it in cleaner. Trust us—just don’t.


Taking Care of Gold Jewelry

Gold is anything but a hard metal and, for this reason, it’s a good idea to remove all of the things it comes in contact with every day before you store it. These include the oils and perspiration on your skin, makeup, and dust.



All it really takes is a good soak in a solution of two parts dish soap and ten parts water. Soak for a few hours, and then take a soft brush to gently scrub the dirt away. Rinse in clean water and get an extra shine by wiping with a polishing cloth.

Please do us a favor and don’t ever use tissues or paper towels to dry your gold. Again, if your jewelry has patina, consult with an antiques dealer to make sure your cleaning won’t devalue it.

When cleaning, keep an eye out for things that can cause problems when you sell jewelry—like loose stones, scratches, and other damage. If your jewelry is damaged before you start cleaning, hold off until you’ve had it fixed so you don’t make it worse.


Storing and Wearing

Believe it or not, there’s a right and wrong way to store your gold. Inside a jewelry box is the right way. Make sure the box is lined with fabric, and make sure there are soft pieces of cloth for every piece so you can wrap them individually. Put them side by side in the box, far enough apart that they don’t touch one another.

You should never wear gold anything into the shower or bath and, especially, never into a chlorinated pool, which can eat away at it. Getting ready for work? Leave the gold until last so all those products don’t end up all over your jewelry. Just get home? Take it off first.


Taking Care of Silver Jewelry

As long as it’s exposed to pure water, your silvery jewelry won’t get damaged by it. Then again, let’s face it: Water, these, days is either fluoridated, chlorinated, salinized or, if you’re treating yourself to a hot springs vacation, sulphurated. Put all those skin oils and gunk together with treated water, and you’ve got a jewelry emergency.



Sterling silver is available in two classes: .925 and..920. These ratings refer to hardness and, where it comes to silver, .925 is the hardest and sturdiest, but, whichever one you’ve got, you gotta keep it clean, especially if you’re looking for where to sell jewelry.

You can polish it with a cloth, but use long strokes instead of circular motions, as these can worsen your silver’s look. Again, be careful what you polish, as some parts of your jewelry might have been made to look oxidized and darker than the rest.

If you really want to give silver a good cleaning, mix one part baking soda with two parts water and mix into a paste. Then, take a soft brush and scrub gently. You can also make your own silver soak by pouring a cup of boiling water onto a piece of aluminum foil that’s been lined with a tablespoon each of salt and baking soda. Just add a ½ cup of vinegar and let your jewelry sit for about 10 minutes before rinsing and drying.


Storing and Wearing

garnet quartz necklace

The best way to store silver is in tarnish-resistant and air-tight bags. Otherwise, it’ll sit out in full view of all the things that can wreck it. Use one bag per piece, and be sure to undo any clasps before you store the pieces.

Don’t take your silver with you to the garden, pool, shower, hot tub or when you clean the house. You’ll also want to avoid exposing it to too much sun. Just like with gold, your silver should be the first thing you take off and the last thing you put on.


Stones and Pearls

There’s nothing worse than a dirty gemstone, setting, or string of pearls. For gemstones and settings in gold, mix dish soap with seltzer to help lift out dirt and grime. Use a soft toothbrush to brush settings and stones, and then rinse in clean water. For stones in silver rings, use toothpaste with baking soda on a soft toothbrush to scrub gently.

Pearls are gorgeous—and porous. This means they can get dull very quickly—but it’s all good; there are two ways to clean them. You can use a tiny bit of shampoo on a damp makeup brush to go over each pearl, and then rinse them by wiping with a damp cloth. Then lay flat to dry.

Another way is to use a care kit made for pearls. Just apply cleaner to a cloth and wipe, and then dry and polish. Whatever way you choose, remember that even though they came from the ocean, your pearls don’t want to go back there. So, don’t soak them in any kind of water to clean them.


Taking Care of Watches

Because they sit right on the skin, watches need regular daily cleaning. How to clean one will depend on the band and what the case is made of.



men's wrist watch

When you take your watch off, you need to wipe it down with a clean, soft cloth. This includes the front and back of the case and around the inside of the band—and please be gentle!

If your watch has a leather strap, make sure it gets conditioned after you clean it. Not doing this will cause it to crack. Test a small spot to make sure it won’t change color on you. Magnets will mess up the mechanisms in your watch, so store it away from these.

Your regular Timex watch can be cleaned with some dish soap and water on a cloth, but, if you’ve got a Rolex, Patek Philippe, or another luxury watch, the only way to go is pro. A professional cleaning every three to four years is best for quartz watches and, for mechanical watches, every two or three years will keep them looking and working like the day you bought them.

You’ll also want to grab a professional eye if you see things like scratches. These can be repaired. Seriously, nobody wants to clean a filthy watch, no matter how good they are at it. So, give it a bit of a rub down before you take it in, would ya?


When the Cleaning’s Done, Bring It to GEM

After all that work you’ve just done to clean your jewelry, shouldn’t you get decent cash for it? You can when you go to GEM Pawnbrokers. Every one of our 24 locations will pay you the highest price for all kinds of jewelry. Visit or call to see why we’re still the largest pawnbroker in NYC after over 70 years: (718) 596-5626.

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