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Clean your jewelry w/ items you already have

February 8, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
New jewelry that sparkles and shines in store cases can be so enticing. But time and wear can tarnish it, so jeweler Sal D'Errico encourages his customers to clean jewelry regularly.

"It makes them fall back in love with it. It makes it look like the day it was born," he said.

What's the best way to clean jewelry? Consumer Reports ShopSmart tested five cleaners, including three liquids that go for $8 to $16 and two ultrasonic cleaning machines that cost up to $50.

"To test our cleaners, we took watches, we took rings, and then we dirtied them with a synthetic skin oil, as well as hand lotion and hair spray," said Consumer Reports' Lisa Lee Freeman.

All the cleaners performed about the same, and testers needed a brush to remove grunge left behind.

But Consumer Reports ShopSmart says you can "make your jewelry sparkle" with cleaners you have on hand.

For plain gold jewelry and diamonds, you can soak them in mild dishwashing liquid and water and use a soft toothbrush to clean the settings. Then dry them with a soft chamois cloth.

To clean silver, rub on a little non-gel toothpaste with a damp sponge, rinse, and buff with a soft cloth. ShopSmart says when cleaning silver, first try a test spot in an inconspicuous place.

When it comes to cleaning pearls, just use a soft cloth that can be dampened with a little tap water. Don't use anything abrasive.

So while jewelers use some very impressive cleaning equipment, you, too, can get your jewelry to shine like new.