One of the beautiful things about jewelry is how intricately it is tied to our daily lives. The pieces that we wear often serve as reminders of those we love, commitments we have made or memories we have shaped. It makes sense that we should care for these pieces in the way we care for other important things in our lives.
The following are a few tips that are especially relevant for your precious and semiprecious jewelry and will help you keep your jewelry well taken care of so that it will last well into the future.
Tips for metal pieces
Tarnishing and scuff marks
Tarnishing is the oxidation of metal which will dull and darken the surface of your metal. This is most frequently noticed in sterling silver and base metals such as bronze, copper and brass. While it can be a pain, it's relatively easy to combat this issue.
Keeping your pieces in small plastic bags will help minimize their exposure to air and the moisture and compounds that will speed up the discoloration. If you'd like to go a step further, 3M makes a paper which, when kept next to your pieces, will help absorb humidity and other airborne troublemakers. Just keep one in the bag and you'll notice less discoloration.
What happens if my pieces are already tarnished?
In this case, you'll want to invest in a good polishing cloth. Sunshine happens to make my personal favorite and works well on silver, gold, brass and copper. One of these and a little elbow grease and your piece will be looking as good as new. Keep in mind that as the cloth turns from yellow to grey, it will still work great, so make sure not to trash it at the first sign of discoloration.
Tips for pieces with stones
Jewelry with set stones needs its own special kind of care, and that can be specific to the type of stone. So, before you go using any or all of the following tips, please make sure that you research your specific stone. Temperature and chemicals in many household cleaners could damage sensitive stones like pearls.
Generally a soft toothbrush and a gentle soap can be one of your best allies in keeping your stones shining. Gently scrub the undersides of your stones with a toothbrush lathered with a little soap and warm water and you'll help dislodge and dirt and debris. Dry with a soft cloth and make sure to take a look in the sunshine to see if you missed any spots. Keep an old toothbrush on hand after it's time for a new one and it'll take on a new life. (Maybe run it through the dishwasher if you're not loving the idea of immediately repurposing it.)
If you notice slight noises coming from your jewelry, you'll want to have those looked at. For this you'll want to have a relationship with a jeweler. The sooner you pay attention, the better! If you are hearing noises that means that your stone is loose and should be tightened in its setting. Taking your time or not getting on this issue dealt with quickly could result in a lost stone — everyone's worst nightmare. So really, have it checked!
Need help finding a jeweler? Stuller has a great resource to help you find one in your area.
In general, just paying attention to your jewelry can help save you a lot of heartache. If the backs of your favorite studs are feeling loose, or you want to make sure that you don't loose your favorite hooked pair, buying some clear backs will add to your peace of mind.
Metals and stones used in costume jewelry are most likely of a much less valuable blend of metals and materials and so they require their own special care. Don't just go to town with a toothbrush on these pieces as you can damage the backings on the stones and/or coatings on the metal. Stay tuned for a special blog post on how to care for your costume pieces.
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