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All types of jewelry can retain its luster and beauty if it is properly cleaned and polished. There are many jewelry cleaners on the market today that will work nicely, but there are simple products right in your kitchen cabinets that will do just as well for cleaning jewelry.

A mild detergent and warm water will clean most stones. Using toothpaste to clean your jewelry or any other abrasive cleaner is unwise. Abrasives tend to scratch the metals and in some cases have even been known to mar a stone. A gentle scrub with a soft toothbrush will get good results without the scratching. After you have washed your jewelry, always dry it with a soft cloth. Jewelry that is worn often tends to pick up particles of dust, body oil, skin and hair that will dull its luster. This should be cleaned about once a week.

Most silver jewelry can be cleaned with a simple solution of 2 parts ammonia and one part water. Use a soft cloth to rub away tarnish after the piece has soaked for about one minute. Real pearls are one exception to the rule. The more they are worn next to the skin the shinier they become. This is because body oils tend to improve their surface. Diamonds can be cleaned by boiling the setting and stones with a dab of detergent for 5 minutes. Be sure that glue has not been used in the setting before you do this. Allow the diamond to cool at room temperature. Dousing it in cold water could shatter the stone. You can also clean diamonds in a solution of 1 tablespoon ammonia to 2 cups of warm water. Allow the stone and setting to soak until the water has cooled, scrub with a soft toothbrush and dry with a soft cloth.

Although most fine jewelry repair work should be done by a professional, costume jewelry stones settings can be repaired at home. If a stone is loose, check the prongs to see if one needs to be tightened. This can be done with a smooth jawed pair of jewelers pliers. Go completely around the stone, tightening each prong for the best results. Do this slowly and carefully since most metals used in costume jewelry are brittle and might break. If a stone falls out of your costume jewelry, it can be reattached with a drop of instant glue. But never use glue on a precious or semi-precious stone since they are easily damaged.

Links on necklaces and bracelets can also be repaired with jewelers pliers. The best way to tighten a ring that is too loose is by purchasing a ring guard and slipping it into the ring. Should a string of pearls or beads break you should never try to knot the old cord. Replace the entire cord. Place all your pearls or beads on a piece of velvet to keep them from rolling about. If at all possible, keep pearls and beads that are in graduated sizes on their old cord to keep them in order until they are restrung. You can use thread, nylon cord or dental floss to restring your beads or pearls. You will want the cord about 12 inches longer than the original necklace. Thread the needle and tie a knot in the end of the cord before beginning. Smaller beads should be strung side by side but larger beads need to have a small knot tied between them for proper spacing.