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Sunday, March 2, 2008

Caring for your Jewellery

It has come to my attention that although I have been making and selling jewellery for quite some time I have been very slack at providing information about caring for your precious items. It would be impossible for me to cover absolutely every aspect of the care of every metal, gemstone etc however this should cover the bulk of your information requirements.


Caring for your jewellery doesn't have to be hard. I recommend either using mildly soapy water for cleaning, then light polishing with a jewelry polishing cloth, or having your jewellery cleaned by a professional.

However, many other methods exist for cleaning jewellery. Please make sure that you use a method appropriate for your particular item, not all gemstones and pearls can be treated the same way.

Abridged version

1) Avoid scratching, banging, chemicals of all kinds, swimming pools, hot tubs, extreme temps, strenuous activity, and intense sunlight.

The chlorine and bromine in pools and hot tubs is particularly damaging to stones and metal, and will even damage solid gold.

2) Wipe your jewelry off with a soft cloth after you wear it.

3) Clean it regularly with mild soapy water, rinse really well, and pat dry with a soft cloth. Polish metals gently with a jewelry polishing cloth.

4) Store most jewelry in a reclosable plastic bag or cloth with anti-tarnish paper. More details below.

5) Some gemstones can change when exposed to direct sunlight, the following is a Partial list:

Amethyst - becomes paler
Ametrine - may become lighter or change colors
Aquamarine - becomes paler
Aventurine - some lighter varieties become paler
Beryl - brown/orange varieties may fade to pale pink
Celestite - becomes paler
Chrysoprase - becomes paler
Citrine - becomes paler/changes color
Hiddenite - becomes paler
Kunzite - becomes paler
Rose Quartz - becomes paler
Smoky Quartz - becomes paler

Some Specifics

Argentium Silver

Argentium Silver is highly tarnish-resistant and needs far less care than traditional sterling silver. You should be able to clean up your Argentium jewelry with a warm mildly soapywater, and restore its high shine with a polishing close. Make sure that you keep the cloths you use to clean Argentium purly for this purpose.

Traditional Sterling Silver, Fine Silver, and Gold

Sterling Silver, Fine Silver, and Gold can be cared for in much the same way as Argentium. You can use the following methods to clean and polish traditional .925 sterling silver, .999 Fine Silver, and gold filled, as well as gold:

  1. Commercial silver/gold cleaners. Be sure that any stones in the jewellery can withstand the chemicals in the cleaner. Read the label, and if in doubt, do not use a chemical cleaner. Some gemstones that cannot be placed in most commercial jewelry cleaners are: pearls, lapis lazuli, malachite, opals, coral, turquoise, and others.
  2. Ammonia and water. Use a light solution of ammonia and water on a toothbrush or soft cloth, then rinse thoroughly with water. Ammonia should not be used on the same types of gemstones that should not be used with commercial cleaners
  3. Jewellery cleaning cloth - use lightly to restore luster. Note: Do not press hard when polishing 14 karat gold filled so that you do not damage the gold surface.
  4. Additionally, tarnish can be retarded by storing your jewelry in the resealable plastic bag included with each piece, or in a commercial jewelry bag with anti-tarnish papers. Pearls and opals, however, should not be stored in plastic because they need to "breathe."

Copper and Brass

Both copper and brass are also incredibly easy to care for. While they do tarnish more quickly than sterling silver, it takes very little to restore that original shine easily.

  1. Commercial copper/brass cleaner. Be sure that any stones in the jewellry can withstand the chemicals in the cleaner or do not use it.
  2. Worcestershire sauce. Strange, yep sounds strange but the acid in the tomato in worcestershire sauce does a great job of cleaning copper and brass jewellery. This method should not be used with gemstones or pearls that cannot be cleaned with chemical cleaners, as the acid in the tomato of the worcestershire may affect more delicate stones.
  3. Ketchup. Another strange but but again the acid in the tomato of the ketchup shines up copper and brass quite nicely. Apply it with a toothbrush or soft cloth, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid getting ketchup on the same types of stones as should not be used with chemical cleaners. I'm not sure about it, but I expect the acid in the tomato might affect more delicate stones.
  4. No Worcestershire sauce or Ketchup then try this recipe for another kitchen cleaner that can be used for copper and brass. Add a few drops of lemon or lime juice to a container of water, then add a teaspoon of salt and stir gently. Place the jewellery in the solution for a few minutes, then remove and rinse thoroughly. If needed, the dip in the solution can be repeated. Again, this method should not be used with gemstones or pearls that cannot be cleaned with chemical cleaners.
  5. Pop your copper and brass items in a reclosable plastic bag or jewellery case with anti-tarnish paper to slow tarnishing.
The following is a partial list of gemstones that should not be subjected to chemical cleaning methods

Lapis Lazuli

The following is a partial list of gemstones that should not be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner

Lapis Lazuli
Tiger Eye
Black Onyx

Avoid ultrasound cleaning with any gemstones containing flaws. Always follow all the operating instructions for your cleaning machine.

I cannot stress strongly enough that if you have any doubts about whether your jewellery item can withstand your chosen cleaning method DON'T DO IT, take it to a jeweller who will be able to advise you regarding your item specifically or even carry out the cleaning for you


missknits said...

i'm totally bookmarking this!! its great great info!! thanks so much for posting it! most of these tips i didnt know about!

Dancing Monkey Jewelry said...

Fantastic Information. I will bookmark it also. Very informative.