Sterling silver is a precious metal, and it needs to be cleaned carefully.
Unfortunately, the process gets a little more difficult when there are other types of gemstones (like turquoise) involved. Some cleaning methods that work great on sterling silver alone will damage the gemstones.
But there are a few good ways to clean these pieces of jewelry.
Check out this guide to cleaning your sterling silver rings.
If you search how to clean sterling silver, you will probably find yourself looking at a cleaning method that uses vinegar and aluminum. Though this does clean sterling silver, it's not something you should try if your jewelry has gemstones.
The aluminum can also damage your jewelry if it is made of any other kind of silver. Unless you're completely sure your jewelry is made of sterling silver and doesn't have any other materials, you should avoid washing your jewelry this way.
This is probably the easiest and safest way to clean your sterling silver rings with gemstones. The soap won't hurt your silver or your gem.
Heat up some water either on the stove or in the microwave. The amount you'll need depends on how many pieces of jewelry you want to clean, but in general, you shouldn't need more than a cup or two.
Once the water is warm, separate it into two different bowls. It doesn't have to be exact, just splitting it roughly in half is fine.
Mix a bit of dish soap into one of the bowls. Again, the amount will depend on how much jewelry you are planning to clean, but don't get hung up on how much soap or water to add. Your only goal is to make the water slightly soapy so it will help clean your rings.
Just be aware that the more soap you add the more slippery your ring will be which could make it hard to hold.
Dip your toothbrush into the soapy water and scrub your sterling silver ring, gemstone and all. Make sure you get any dirt or lotion sitting behind the gem or along its corners.
When you're done scrubbing, dip the ring into your other bowl of warm water to rinse it off. Then pat it dry with a towel.
If you're worried that a toothbrush might be too hard on your silver or gemstone, you can use a lint-free cloth instead. If your jewelry is made of a softer silver than sterling, this is a good idea.
If you are working anywhere near the kitchen or bathroom sinks, plug them up before you start!
Remember, your ring will be soapy and slippery, and far too many rings have been lost down the sink during the cleaning process. This step is even more important if you decide to skip the bowl of rinsing water and just run your ring under the faucet instead.
This is another good way to clean your sterling silver rings, even if they have gemstones, but you have to be a little more careful with this method.
Toothpaste can be abrasive, and if you use the wrong type, you risk damaging your silver or scratch your stones in the process of cleaning them. So if you choose to clean your rings with toothpaste, make sure the toothpaste doesn't have any whiteners (other than baking soda), tartar control, or other similar chemicals. You should also avoid any type of gel.
You'll want to start by warming up some water again. Don't worry about the exact amount. You'll just use it to damped the ring before you apply the toothpaste.
Put it into a small bowl and set aside.
Put some of the baking powder toothpaste on the toothbrush, but don't overdo it. Whereas you might squirt a generous clump to actually brush your teeth, right now you are brushing something a little more delicate.
Dip your ring into the warm water then start scrubbing with your prepared toothbrush. Make sure you get into those crevices around the setting. When you're done scrubbing, rinse both your ring and the toothbrush with the warm water.
(Depending on how much toothpaste you used, you may want to wash your toothbrush off in the sink).
Scrub the ring a second time without any toothpaste. This will take off any remaining debris and toothpaste. Rinse the ring again and pat it dry with your towel.
You can always switch the toothbrush for a lint-free cloth if you are concerned the toothbrush will be too rough.
If you have a silver polish, you can polish your sterling silver rings after they have been cleaned. You do have to be careful to avoid getting any of the polish on your gemstone.
Apply some of the sterling silver polish to the corner of your soft cloth. Rub polish onto the ring in general, back and forth motions. Don't use circle movements because this can scratch the silver.
Let the polish sit for a few minutes. The exact amount of time will depend on the kind of polish you have, so adhere to the package instructions.
Wipe off the rest of the polish with a lint-free cloth. This will make the silver shiny and bright again.
Like any other kind of jewelry, your sterling silver rings need to be properly maintained and cleaned. Whenever you aren't wearing them, store them away from any other jewelry so they don't get scratched.
Have some sterling silver earrings that need a good cleaning? Check out this sterling silver earring cleaning guide.
If your body is particularly sensitive to metals, you may want to consider buying hypoallergenic jewelry. How is this jewelry made, you ask? Find out here.