Did you know that fake jewelry, also known as costume jewelry, made up a $32.9 billion market in 2021? Moreover, experts say it has the potential to reach $59.7 billion by 2026.
A chief reason for that popularity is the aesthetic appeal of fake jewelry. And while it’s fashionable, it often costs a fraction of gold or silver jewelry.
The primary downside to fake jewelry is that they wear faster than those made of precious metals. For the same reason, they usually require more routine cleaning.
The good news is that if you know how to clean fake jewelry, you can make them look new again.
To that end, we created this fake jewelry cleaning guide. So read on, as the tips we’ve compiled here can help you breathe life back into these accessories.
Confirm It’s Costume and Not Plated Jewelry
Fake or costume jewelry doesn’t have any genuine gold or silver in it, which is why it’s prone to tarnishing. For instance, authentic gold doesn’t tarnish at all. Likewise, gold-plated jewelry doesn’t develop that external layer of corrosion.
However, just because a piece of jewelry tarnishes doesn’t automatically mean it’s fake. For instance, it might be sterling silver, which is still real silver but can tarnish. And since it contains 92.5% silver, you shouldn’t clean it the same way you’d clean fake jewelry.
If you want to clean sterling silver or gold-plated jewelry, use a regular jewelry cleaner. If you’re sure you’re cleaning fake jewelry, you can proceed to follow the rest of this guide.
Brush or Swab Away Debris and Verdigris
You can use a new, soft-bristled toothbrush or a cotton swab to remove debris from your fake jewelry. Do this gently and without dampening the brush or the swab. It’s often easier to get rid of dirt when it’s dry, as it crumbles away, whereas it sticks (much like mud) if it’s damp.
You’ll know you’re cleaning it right if the tip of the brush or swab turns dirty. You may also notice a greenish tint on it; that’s verdigris, also known as patina. It’s a pigment that results from the corrosion of metals like bronze or copper.
After a few minutes of cleaning, look at the jewelry closely, or better yet, under a magnifying glass. Check if there’s any remaining gunk, especially in the recesses or valleys. If there is, and the brush or swab can’t remove it, give it a gentle poke with a toothpick.
Use Lemon to Remove Stubborn Verdigris
If a toothbrush, cotton swab, or toothpick can’t remove all traces of verdigris, you can use lemon and salt.
First, slice a lemon in half, and coat the exposed pulp with salt. Next, rub this part onto the areas of your jewelry infected with verdigris. The acid in the lemon breaks down the green-colored substance, while the salt helps scrub it away.
Keep scrubbing away gently until all signs of the patina disappear. Then, rinse with warm water and use a clean towel to dry the jewelry immediately.
Clean Caked-on Debris With Baking Soda
Baking soda, the fine white powder used as a leavening agent, is a fantastic fake jewelry cleaner. Thanks to its alkalinity, it can break down organic materials such as dirt, grime, grease, and oil.
In addition, baking soda’s powdered form gives it a gentle abrasive property. Thus, it helps scrub away debris without scratching the surfaces of materials. It’s also quick to dissolve in water and has a slight solubility in alcohol.
So, why not make and use a DIY baking soda paste when cleaning fake jewelry? For this, combine equal parts of baking soda with water (for example, 1/4 cup of baking soda + 1/4 cup of warm water).
If the item is notably filthy or greasy, you might want to add a droplet or two of dishwashing liquid to the solution.
Give the mixture a good mix, then apply some of the paste onto your jewelry. Coat all its surfaces and allow to sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Next, use a clean, damp cloth or towel to scrub the concoction gently onto the jewelry’s surfaces. After that, rinse the paste off in a bowl of clean water (you may have to do this a few times).
Wipe the jewelry dry with a fresh piece of cloth or towel. If a layer of white residue remains on its surfaces, rinse it again. If it’s all sparkly, then you did a fantastic cleaning job.
Make Fake Jewelry Shine With Vinegar
If you don’t have baking soda, you can mix equal parts of white vinegar and water instead. Like baking soda, this fake jewelry cleaning hack can make your jewelry shiny.
The key is to soak the jewelry in the vinegar and water solution for about 15 to 20 minutes. That’s enough time for the acetic acid in the vinegar to cut through dirt, grime, and grease. At the very least, it should soften stubborn debris build-up on the jewelry.
After the soak, you can use the same toothbrush (make sure to clean it first) to knock any remaining debris loose. Alternatively, you can use a fresh toothpick to lift the now-softened dirt.
Once your jewelry is all clean, you can give it a final rinse before drying it immediately. It should now be shiny and have its luster back.
That’s How to Clean Fake Jewelry
And there you have it, the guide teaching you how to clean fake jewelry.
Now you know the first step is to confirm that it is costume jewelry, not plated or sterling silver. If it is fake, you can dry-clean it before using lemon, baking soda, or vinegar to make it shine again. Don’t forget to dry it immediately after, as you don’t want to encourage more corrosion.
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