The most common jewelry cleaner is a soap solution. It has been used by women down the ages to clean their jewelry. The cleaning itself is a simple process. The jewelry is first placed in a bowl of lukewarm water, and a mild liquid detergent added. The jewelry is allowed to soak soap water so that the dirt swells up and becomes soft. After that, a soft brush is used to gently rub away all dirt that may have settled down in crevices. A soft, clean cloth is finally used to wipe the jewelry dry.
The last century saw the soap solution being replaced by the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. This cleaner is a metal-lined tank with a removable plastic basket. It is filled with water, and a mild cleaning agent added. The jewelry is then allowed to sink in the water.
The cleaner is now switched on and allowed to generate ultrasonic waves through a transducer that is fixed beneath the cleaner's metal-lined tank. The ultrasonic waves pass trough the water generating tiny water bubbles called cavitations.
The bubbles increase in size as the pressure builds up and finally explode. The energy released by the bursting of bubbles removes the dirt from the jewelry. The explosions may not be heard but they are powerful enough to push shock waves deep inside the jewelry settings. The jewelry is then removed, wiped with a dry cloth to remove traces of water. Tarnish-removing cloths or dips can now be used to remove tarnish from metal.
Most jewelers consider ultrasonic cleaners to be the best way to clean jewelry. However, they also caution against the use of ultrasonic cleaners for cleaning jewelry that uses gemstones like Pearl, Opal, Turquoise, Topaz, Emerald, Iolite, Tanzanite, and Peridot. These gemstones are soft and can crack under pressure.
Also, it is advisable to use the ultrasonic cleansing solution to obtain best results. Ordinary soap solutions will not deliver the best results. It is also important to run the cleaner only when it is filled with water. Otherwise there is the danger of the cleaner’s walls getting damaged.