Spring Cleaning: How to Care for Your Jewelry
How you handle your precious things can say a lot about your nature. It's safe to say that many of us could put a little more care into the care of our jewelry. Perhaps it's time for a bit of TLC toward your collection? Whether you have daily wear pieces that may need some grit cleaned off, or pieces that have been living in your jewelry box a little too long, here are some guidelines to keep all your metals, stones, pearls, acrylics, and fibers in top condition.
First off, some general rules from Saskia Diez, Remove jewelry before taking a bath, showering or cleaning the house. Remove your jewelry if you’re going to do any manual labor, including housework to prevent it from getting damaged. Don’t wear jewelry in swimming pools and spas, chlorinated water can react with the metals causing color changes and even structural damage.
Contact sports and jewelry is a no-go, hard blows during sports can damage jewelry not to mention the people involved. Finally, the biggest danger to your jewelry.... Taking it off to wash your hands and forgetting it or, god forbid, a piece slipping down the drain.
Regarding sterling silver, gold and gold plated jewelry; One can mix mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl to soak your item. A soft brush or toothbrush may be used gently. Rinse with water and let dry. Afterward use a jewelry polishing cloth gently to buff to a perfect shine. Saskia Diez, whose collection is comprised of sterling silver and gold, warns not to use tissue or paper towels, because they can cause scratches because of fibers in these products. A very quick dunk in a jewelry cleaner can remove any difficult buildup, don't forget to rinse thoroughly with water afterward. Loren Stewart's care instructions suggest a little baking soda on a soft toothbrush to remove oxidation. We enjoy Another Feather's recommendation pertaining to sterling silver; when worn regularly, silver usually keeps it bright state. If kept on a dresser for long periods of time unworn (depending on the climate you live in) it can tarnish. You can easily rid your silver jewelry of tarnish with a simple polish, but wearing your jewelry often can naturally prevent this. A reason to bring out your inner maximalist and maybe wear a few more pieces than you normally would.
A few pieces in Modern Weaving's collection utilize polished and raw brass which naturally oxidizes over time. This grey hue is a chemical reaction which can be removed with a metal polish. They suggest keeping your jewelry away from moisture, steam and excessive heat to delay oxidation. When you’re not wearing your jewelry be sure to wipe with a polishing cloth to remove oils from your ears and fingers, then store it in a plastic bag. Or embrace the chemical reaction on a beautiful brass piece, it gives it character. Erin Considine's care instructions warn that brass contact with skin will sometimes leave a temporary and painless dark mark, especially during periods of humidity. A fun anecdote about brass is that it can be easily cleaned with household substances like toothpaste and ketchup, but really a soft polishing cloth is agreed upon to be the best.
Pearls. These delicate natural phenomenons are the most fragile of materials commonly found in ones jewelry collection. Because pearls are made primarily of calcium carbonate, they could literally be dissolved in vinegar. Do not let pearls come in contact with harsh solvents. Definitely no bleach. A soft dry cloth is about all pearls can take.
On the opposite end of the fragility scale is acrylic. Although it can scratch, it is very durable and requires little to no upkeep. Remove build up and oil with a damp cloth and a gentle cleanser if needed. And don't drop it. But if you do it'll probably be ok.
Natural fibers used by Erin Considine should be handled with care. They are susceptible to discoloration from cleaners, so spot cleaning with warm water and a very gentle clear soap is recommended. Best to just smooth out and store in a dustbag to prevent dust build-up and avoid excessive exposure to the elements. If the smooth fringe on any of your Lizzie Fortunato earrings gets wrinkled just give it a gentle steam and comb with a fine tooth brush.
There is a lot to be said about caring for diamonds. The method we feel most comfortable with it to dry brush the surface with a soft brush or toothbrush. This removes tiny dust and debris that may be resting around and under the setting. Diamonds are pretty indestructible, but might best be cleaned by a professional.
Many designers and jewelers offer dustbags to store each piece in which is the ideal companion for your jewelry's resting time. Second to that a plastic bag is recommended, although might not be the most aesthetically pleasing. Saskia Diez recommends To maintain the luster of your jewelry, you can place silver anti-tarnish strips in your storage container to absorb the oxidants that discolor and tarnish jewelry. Keep all of your pieces separate from one another to prevent scratching. Direct sunlight can break down pearls and other natural materials. Oh, and don't store your jewelry in leather, it can cause tarnishing.
So whether you are keeping your collection safe in a box, safe in a safe, or wearing everything daily, through the extreme temperatures, trials, and tribulations an accessory must endure to travel around on a human body, now is a perfect time to give everything a good shine. Neglected jewelry is not happy jewelry. We've also heard it likes company. The more the merrier. Shop the edit below.