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Storing Your Jewelry

It is inevitable that we must clean our jewelry from time to time, especially sterling silver jewelry, which will tarnish over time. The exposure to air, moisture, our own body oils, perfumes, lotions & makeup will eventually dull a piece regardless of what it is made out of. There are a few ways I recommend for storing your jewelry in order to slow down the tarnishing process.

I recommend wiping all pieces down with a soft cloth to remove any residual oils, lotions or makeup. Also store your jewelry separate so they do not react with metals from other pieces. One of the most effective ways for storage, although not very attractive, is to store them in a small zip lock bag. This will cut down on the air & moisture exposure & slow down tarnish. It may not be as pretty as storing them in a jewelry pouch, but there is the added plus of being able to see the piece through the bag. I store all my jewelry for sale in small plastic baggies with an anti-tarnish strip (more on these shortly) arranged in large binders. I can easily see the piece I am looking for to get it ready for shipping quickly.

When you buy a piece from me, I supply a small cloth pouch & an anti-tarnish strip. The strip helps absorb moisture that contributes to tarnishing. Wiping the pieces down with a soft cloth & storing in the pouch with the strip works well for slowing down tarnish & protecting the piece. You can purchase anti-tarnish strips widely on the internet from bead shops, auction sites and direct from the manufacturer.

Jewelry with gold-filled components will not tarnish as sterling silver will, so keeping them safely tucked away in a jewelry pouch or zip lock bag giving them a gentle wipe down with a soft cloth now & again will probably do the trick.

CARING FOR PEARLS
Jewelry containing pearls should have a little extra attention taken to them. Pearls are the most fragile of gemstones, being that they are made up of porous organic material, and tend to absorb foreign materials easily. It is recommended that you store your pearls separate from other jewelry, although I always recommend you store your jewelry separated. Pearls prefer to be stored in a cloth bag/jewelry pouch. Make sure you put on your pearls after you have applied any makeup, lotions, perfumes, or hair spray/products. If your pearls come in contact with any food, wipe clean with a moistened soft cloth immediately. Avoid chlorinated water.

It is also recommended to wipe pearls after wear to remove any residue with a soft jeweler’s cloth. Do not use commercial cleaners or ultrasonic cleaners, soaps/detergents, or steam cleaning.

I have cleaned my own personal pieces containing pearls with the baking soda/salt method mentioned under Simple & Effective Jewelry Cleaners, just omitting the detergent, and being sure to use distilled water and not tap water (which may contain chlorine). The results were fine: clean silver, and the pearls were left undamaged. I wouldn’t recommend this on your high-end pearl pieces, though. Definitely try at your own risk.

It seems the best way to clean your pearl jewelry is to invest in a small jewelry cloth. I will be eventaully offering these for sale on my website.

Proper storage of your jewelry will mean less cleaning time for you & more time for you to enjoy your pieces.

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Simple & Effective Jewelry Cleaners

Living in a virtually chemical free home myself, it became necessary to seek out ways to clean my jewelry without using chemicals. Here are some of the methods I use to keep my pieces sparkling…

STERLING SILVER CLEANERS

These methods are perfect for your jewelry which contains sterling silver components. The bonus is you don’t have to worry about them damaging your stones!

First method:

In a glass bowl, cover the bottom with a piece of aluminium foil, shiny side up. Place 2-3 inches of boiling water in the bowl (distilled water is preferred, but I have used boiled tap water as well and haven’t noticed any difference). To this add 1 teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of baking soda, & a squirt of dishwashing liquid. You’ll notice the mixture begin to fizz. Add your silver pieces, making sure the water covers them completely & that they are touching the aluminium foil. I find swirling the pieces around gently helps loosen any dirt. If you do this be sure to use a wooden or plastic utensil. The foil will absorb the tarnish from your silver jewelry. There may be a bit of a sulphur smell as you do this, which is okay. After a couple of minutes, remove, rinse with cold water & dry thoroughly. Buff with a soft cloth. An aluminium pie plate will work in replace of the foil as well.

Second Method:
Plain old white toothpaste! Do not use gels. To clean off tarnish, gently rub a small amount of white toothpaste on the silver, and then run it under warm water. Work it into a lather and rinse. An old toothbrush will help get it into all the crevices. This provides minimal cleaning. I still prefer the first method to this one. I do keep a tube of white Crest toothpaste around if I need to clean pieces quickly that only need a quick clean to become shiny again. Be sure to pat dry your pieces thoroughly before putting them away.

Third Method:

This is my least favourite method but it’s great if you just want to give your piece a little shine & only have a mild residue to remove. Place a tiny drop of baby oil on a disposable baby wipe. Be sure to use a VERY small amount, or it just becomes an oily mess. This method works on gold as well.

USING A JEWELER’S CLOTH

Of course, the best tried & true (and time consuming) way to keep your silver or gold jewelry sparkling is to use a rouge cloth, also known as a silver cloth or jeweler’s cloth. I do offer these as an add-on purchase to pieces, and they are very handy to have. I always recommend finishing your cleaning job with a jeweler’s cloth as it will give the silver or gold a bright shine & slow down the tarnish.

GOLD-FILLED CLEANERS

Gold-filled jewelry reacts much like its more expensive gold counterparts as the gold is bonded with another alloy throughout rather than just being electroplated to the outside like gold plate is. Therefore, it is considered a life-time product, as it has the same durability & characteristics of solid gold. You can expect to clean it much like sterling silver, so I find that the cleaning suggestions that I have listed for sterling silver work just as well on gold-filled components.

A NOTE ABOUT THESE CLEANING TIPS

Although these are tried & true methods, many jeweler’s would never recommend such products as baking soda & toothpaste as they can leave microscopic scratches on the metal. I have even heard jewelers go as far to say never use chemical dips or silver polishes either, and that the only tried & true way to polish your beloved metal is with a jeweler’s cloth. I can tell you from my own experience, that I have never noticed any scratches from doing these methods myself, and I certainly don’t have the time to sit and polish every piece by hand every time.

If you have a piece of jewelry that you have spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on, or if you are unsure because your piece contains a delicate component such as pearls, it’s best to err on the side of caution and have a professional do the cleaning for you.

Careful storage of your jewelry will equal less time cleaning it. In a future post I will write about storing your jewelry…