I often am asked for tips for jewelry care. Here are a few simple things to do to avoid hurting your jewelry and also to keep it shining:
1. Avoid storing your jewelry exposed in your bathroom (or in the bathroom all together). I have noticed that it tarnishes much faster and have seen customers' silver pieces become totally black from the exposure. Storing jewelry in a jewelry box is the best way to keep it.
2. Don't swim and shower in your jewelry. This helps keep it from getting tarnished and soaking any beading string or wire, also for softer stones it helps preserve the length of their lives. Chlorine actually "attacks" gold and some gemstones.
3. One way to clean jewelry is to use simple dish soap, warm water and a soft toothbrush. Although be careful not to bear down on set stones with the toothbrush, you can pop them out of their settings. For especially dirty pieces, go ahead and soak them for a little while first to soften up the dirt. (Never use a toothbrush found in a jeweler's work area to brush your teeth!)
4. Another way to clean jewelry is a jewelry polishing cloth. They are available in many jewelry stores and I carry them. The cloth is embedded with jewelry polish and it takes a little bit of work but it shines up the metals very well.
5. Jewelry paste and liquid polishes can vary in quality, most work pretty well and can be worth a try. I don't have any particular brand to recommend since I rarely use them.
6. Don't use bleach while wearing silver rings, it can blacken them. And ammonia can damage some stones.
7. Remove jewelry before entering hot springs, the sulfur in the water blackens the silver. Actually, that is what I use to blacken silver, small rocks of sulfur diluted in hot water, it's what jewelers call "liver of sulfur".
8. Avoid storing your jewelry in sunlight, some stones' colors will fade.
9. Avoid storing jewelry with any kind of stone near excessive heat.
10. The best way to store jewelry is in soft pouches or fabric/felt lined jewelry boxes.
And in general, be nice and gentle to your jewelry because you love it!
Get in touch with any more questions and I'll add to this page as I can.