Removing Scratches From Jewelry

Learn how to properly store, clean and care for your jewelry to avoid scratches. Learn when and how you can safely remove a scratch.

Removing scratches from jewelry usually requires professional restoration, and while you can remove surface scratches at home, professional restoration produces better results without risking more harm to the jewelry. This is a case where a little prevention goes a long way toward avoiding the cure. In fact, most minor scratches are preventable, because it is through improper care and inappropriate polishing or buffing that many of these scratches occur.

Preventing Scratches

Start by limiting exposure to substances that cause a film and tarnish your jewelry. Substances such as hair spray, hair mousse, air fresheners, and perfume can leave a residue on jewelry that is difficult, if not impossible, to remove. Even soap from your morning shower can leave a dull film on your jewelry. If you wait until after you have finished your daily grooming routine to don your jewelry, you won't expose it to the caustic chemicals in these products.

Never use a household cleaner or any cleaner not specifically formulated for use with jewelry to clean your jewelry. When you use water to clean your jewelry, distilled or filtered water is your best choice. Keep your jewelry away from chlorine, and remove it before swimming or entering a hot tub. Use a jewelry polishing cloth instead of a paper towel, towel, or other material. Always rub lengthwise, never in a circular motion, to avoid scratching jewelry.

Improper storage can also cause scratches. First, ensure that your jewelry is bone dry before storing it. Instead of piling jewelry into a cardboard box, a drawer or a jewelry box, give your jewelry some space. Use storage that contains dividers. Store your silver with an anti-tarnish agent or in a tightly sealed zipper plastic bag. Don't store diamonds with any other jewelry. Diamonds will scratch softer jewelry.

Before you use an ultrasonic cleaning machine or a commercial cleaner, check with your jeweler. Each is suitable for some stones and metals, but none is suitable for all stones and metals. Your jeweler can guide you in safe home cleaning, and one phone call can save you an expensive commercial restoration.

Removing Scratches

In general, you only want to try to remove surface scratches yourself. Attempting to remove deeper scratches yourself may result in ruining the finish, and that may require professional restoration. It's cheaper to have deep scratches restored professionally from the beginning.

A jewelers rouge polishing cloth contains jewelers rouge, the substance that jewelers use to polish jewelry when they make it. The impregnated rouge, made from finely ground stone particles, removes small scratches from metal jewelry as it cleans, restoring it to its original luster and brilliance. When using it on silver, it buffs the tarnish off without scratching the underlying silver. The cloth will last approximately two years, and even if it turns black, you can continue to use it. You cannot wash the cloth, because washing removes the jewelers rouge from the cloth. Do not use anything with jewelers rouge on stones or pearls.

Just Don't Do It

You may have heard that you can clean sterling silver with toothpaste and a toothbrush. Brushed silver is the only kind of silver on which you should use a toothbrush. In fact, if you attempt to polish brush silver with a jewelers rouge cloth or a chamois, you may eventually wear away the satin finish.

Don't attempt to remove scratches from pearls or platinum. Pearls are considered soft gems, and you'll only make matters worse by removing the finish if you attempt to remove scratches yourself. Platinum presents the opposite problem. It's a very rare, hard, dense metal, and your jeweler is equipped to remove scratches without damaging the metal.

One final word of caution: you can find anything on the Internet, and that includes professional jewelers' supplies. In most cases, you are asking for trouble by ordering these products and attempting a do-it-yourself repair at home. Your jeweler is highly trained and experienced in their use, and you are not. If you find scratches on your jewelry, you can make matters far worse by trying to remove the scratches yourself. Fine jewelry is expensive. When you buy fine jewelry, invest in its upkeep, and it will serve you the rest of your life. Invest time in preventative care, and you won't have to worry about removing scratches.

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