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How to Clean a Necklace at Home

Research is the first step in the right direction towards preserving the quality of your necklaces. Regular cleaning not only prevents potential damage but also ensures you can wear your necklaces anytime without concern for their condition. Cleaning your necklaces at home requires a velvet glove due to each material’s individual properties. Note that there is more than one way to clean these metals and stones, but these home necklace cleaning methods are the ones we recommend for the best results. For specific questions, consult one of our jewelry experts at the time of purchase or connect with us anytime through our store line at 402.391.0400.  

Roberto Coin Princess Heart Pendant with Twisted Edge in Yellow Gold, 18"


The best way to clean a gold chain at home is with a simple mixture of lukewarm water and soft, fragrance-free soap. Add a few drops of the soap to a bowl of lukewarm water then gently swirl the chain around in the soapy water for a few minutes, taking care not to tangle it. Rinse the chain thoroughly to remove any soap residue. Gold boasts high corrosion resistance, so you can confidently use mild cleaning solutions and brushes without risk of damage. After cleaning your gold chain, give it a little extra shine with a polishing cloth by simply rubbing the cloth over the entire chain in a circular motion until it regains its luster. And voilà, you’re done.

Monica Rich Kosann Slim Cushion "Viv" Locket in Sterling Silver

Sterling Silver

Sterling silver tends to tarnish, so you must adapt your necklace cleaning approach based on the severity of discoloration. The first remedy is for sterling silver necklaces that are slightly to mildly lackluster. Combine lukewarm water and soft, unscented soap then glide the chain in the mixture for a few minutes. Be sure to thoroughly rinse and dry after cleaning and follow up with a gentle buff using a silver polishing cloth.  If the metal is highly tarnished, bring the necklace into our store for cleaning by an expert jeweler. 


Most common gemstones respond well to a solution of lukewarm water and soft soap without any scrubbing. However, some—like pearls and opalsdo have sensitivities.

Tara Pearls White South Sea Cultured Pearl Strand with Diamond Clasp, 18.5"


The chemical composition of pearls is different than most gemstones, so cleaners safe for gold, silver, and other gemstones can actually ruin them. The way your pearls are set also impacts the method of cleaning. Pearl necklaces are often strung on knotted silk cords, which can stain if exposed to cleaners and weaken if submerged in liquid for long periods of time. Another note is that pearls are particularly susceptible to scratches. It may be tempting, but resist the urge to wipe away dirt from your pearls because doing so could easily result in scratches. We suggest the following technique to clean your pearl necklaces. Wet a thin mesh rag with a soft, odorless soap and lukewarm water mixture and carefully wipe the pearls. To avoid getting excess moisture in the drill holes, never immerse your necklace in the soap and water mixture. Finish by drying your pearl necklace with a lint-free cloth. If you wear your pearls frequently, clean them at least once a month using a soft cloth or sponge and soft soap. When in doubt, leave your pearls with us for cleaning by a GIA-certified jeweler. 

Avoid These Common Mistakes

In general, keep your necklaces away from harsh chemicals and abrasive scrubbing methods, as these can harm delicate materials and gemstones. Never soak necklaces—this can weaken adhesives and compromise their integrity. Don’t forget that all parts of your necklaces need cleaning, including the clasp.  

More Than Meets the Eye

Retaining the best of your necklaces is a task that requires ongoing dedication to be sure. Proper storage—preferably in individual compartments or soft pouches (for travel)—helps prevent tangling and buildup of dust and moisture. Avoid subjecting necklaces to chlorine pools, extreme temperatures, and strenuous activities that cause wear and tear.

While you can clean your necklaces at home, it’s a good idea to bring them in for professional cleaning every six months. Part of our Signature Service includes complimentary cleaning for all jewelry purchased from Borsheims. Not only will our in-house jewelers clean your necklaces, but they will also inspect for any damage that may have occurred your since last inspection. As an extra layer of security, we recommend insuring your necklaces to protect them from potential loss or damage. With proper maintenance and care, your pieces can continue to look as new and invigorated as the day you first wore them.