31 Days

Day 19

Clean Your Jewelry and Watches

Words by Mark Broadly

High-end timepieces and well-made jewelry are investments pieces, literally. They don't come cheap, and if they're taken care of, they can bring a big return down the road. Plus, you get the added bonus of being able to wear an item as it grows in value, so it's certainly one of the safest and most enjoyable ways to spend your money. Regardless of if you're rocking a grail-level luxury watch or a pure gold family heirloom, the responsibility is the same when it comes to cleaning and maintaining your jewelry.

While it may be costly up-front, quality jewelry like a gold chain or bracelet is fairly resilient, as it's made from some of the most enduring and strongest materials found in the natural world. But that doesn't mean they don't need to be cared for and shined up once and in a while. Cleaning your valued pieces regularly is not only recommended but required for serious collectors or anyone who wants to keep their jewels in premium condition. Herewith, your game plan for maintaining your investment portfolio.

Vintage 1957 Omega Speedmaster,
$8,333 at Crown & Caliber

Use Gentle Cleaners

Viseman Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Microfiber cleaning cloth,
$6.99 by Viseman

One of the safest and most time-tested methods for cleaning jewelry involves gentle dish soap dissolved in warm water. Mix your solution (one small drop of dish soap to a cup or so of warm water), and then let your jewelry sit in the mixture for 10 or 15 minutes before thoroughly drying with a microfiber cloth. Never use any harsh chemicals or cleaners on your precious jewelry pieces, including bleach, chlorine or acetone.

Viseman Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Microfiber cleaning cloth,
$6.99 by Viseman

Have It Professionally Cleaned

Your jeweler should allow you to send in or drop off pieces for a professional deep cleaning at least once a year. It's vital that you do this to ensure that the dust and grime that gets deep into the crevices doesn't compromise the piece for the long term. According to Arthur Ilyev, a managing partner at Frost NYC, one of the largest hip-hop jewelers in the US: "The cleaning schedule should really be dependent on how often you wear the piece, but, if you wear it at least once a week, we recommend yearly professional cleaning. Just to be safe, watches that are worn daily likely need bi-yearly maintenance and, if you bought it from a reputable jeweler, they will be happy to provide this service."

Watches Require Tune-Ups

A mechanical or automatic watch is like your car—a machine with lots of moving parts. In order to run smoothly and keep proper time, someone's going to have to eventually go under the hood for a tune-up. This service is recommended every three years or so to ensure everything is clean, oiled and ready to keep on ticking for years to come. You want to take your watch to a trusted professional—either a respectable repair shop or the watch brand's official service center.

Avoid Gimmicks

As tempting as it may be, avoid the urge to sink money into any costly at-home jewelry cleaners. Ultrasonic cleaners, in particular, are not safe nor recommended for jewelry with diamonds or any precious stones, as they can loosen settings or cause gems to fall out completely. Similarly, you generally won't get any real benefit from using a store-bought cleaner compared to a gentle water and dish soap mix you can make at home.

Keep It Clean

It's a lot easier to spruce up a piece of jewelry that's just a little dirty compared to one that needs a serious scrub-down. Try to keep your pieces fresh in between cleanings by taking them off when you shower, swim, sweat or go anywhere near chemicals. Also, be sure to put your jewelry on last as you're getting ready so as to not expose it to any grooming products or fragrances.

Make a Schedule

Maintenance and care for anything, whether it is a house, a car or a rare Rolex, is about setting (and sticking to) a schedule. Make sure you set up a maintenance program for your high-end jewelry and stick to it, tracking what you have done throughout the life of the piece. This will help ensure that you don't let the jewelry deteriorate, while also creating a record you can reference should you ever decide to sell your investment pieces.

Finish With a Polish

We all love jewelry because it sparkles and catches the eye from afar, but grimy gold or sullied silver simply don't have the same dazzling effect as the beautifully shined stuff. Occasionally having your pieces professionally polished to remove any dullness, tarnishing or discoloration can make a massive difference when it comes to precious metals. You can complete your at-home cleanings by polishing with a jewelry cloth to maintain shine in between professional cleans.

Avoid Extreme Heat

Heat waves illustration

Another thing most people don't think about that can really damage jewelry is heat. Never wear them in extreme heat like a hot tub, sauna or tanning bed and even be cautious when blow-drying your hair, machine drying your hands or using any high-heat tools.

- Arthur Ilyev, Frost NYC