Handmade Jewelry by Jennifer Garrison

Useful information, tips, and practical stuff relating to my jewelry designs. Plus a few random thoughts.

Monday, September 26, 2011

How to Care for Your Jewelry

I found this very useful information at Nina Designs, a supplier of beautiful charms and jewelry findings. Its very useful so I thought I would re-post it here.

How should I care for my Sterling Silver jewelry?

Preventing Tarnish on Sterling Silver:
  1. The best way to prevent tarnishing is to store clean, dry sterling silver in a dry airtight container, like a ziplock bag.
  2. An anti-tarnish strip with the silver jewelry in a ziplock bag will help fight against tarnish.
  3. Don’t leave silver jewelry in the bathroom. Humidity can speed up the oxidation process that produces tarnish.
  4. Minimize sterling silver’s contact to chemicals (hairspray, perfume, body lotion, bleach, etc.) and do not wear it the shower, swimming pool or hot tub.
  5. After taking off silver jewelry, clean it with a dry soft cloth before putting it back into an airtight container.
  6. A general rule of thumb for silver jewelry: it should be the last thing put on before leaving the house, and the first thing removed when returning home. This will help minimize your jewelry’s contact with perfumes, lotions, and other chemicals.
Cleaning Tarnished Sterling Silver:
  1. Always remove jewelry before showering or cleaning. A film can form if soap or cleaning agents are not washed off completely. This film will become a magnet for dirt, dust and other contaminants.
  2. Use a silver polishing cloth such as Sunshine Cloth to remove oxidation from silver. Tissues and paper towels can cause scratches. Be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use can leave scrapes and pits. Use light pressure and allow the cloth to do the work for you. If your arm starts to ache, you’re probably pressing too hard.
  3. Commercial cleaners can be purchased at jewelry stores. Always remember to read the instructions on the commercial cleaners first before you attempt cleaning. Most commercial cleaners are very strong and will remove all oxidation! Many silver jewelry designs are purposely oxidized then polished, so that crevices are darkened to bring out the depth and beauty of a piece. Take care not to remove this design element. Do not go overboard!
  4. If you’d like to avoid harsh commercial cleaners and the polishing cloth doesn’t work, wash silver jewelry (without gemstones or pearls) in warm water containing a few drops of mild dish-washing liquid. Immerse the sterling silver in the water and gently hand wash. Use a cotton swab for tight corners. A soft baby toothbrush can be used for more abrasive cleaning when needed. Thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing!
  5. Never clean your jewelry in bleach! Doing this will literally breakdown your jewelry. Bleach is an oxidizing agent that will react to the metal, causing it to become very brittle. Remember to remove your jewelry before swimming or soaking in a hot tub too!
  6. If the jewelry contains gemstones or pearls, do not submerge the entire piece into water. Instead, use a cotton swab with mild dish-washing liquid to wash only the silver. Again, thoroughly rinse and completely dry the sterling silver before storing, as moisture is one of the factors that contribute to tarnishing! Chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia are all harmful to gemstones and pearls. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones, like amber, turquoise, lapis, and more.
  7. Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. Some websites recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. The abrasives in toothpaste can damage the surface of the metal. Toothpaste will also abrade the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones.
  8. If this steps do not remove the tarnish on the sterling silver, it may require a visit to a professional jeweler who will either clean the sterling silver with an ultrasonic cleaner, or buff it with stages of abrasive paper.

How should I care for my Gold Plated jewelry?

Metal is particularly reactive in moist or wet conditions. Regions with humid weather like the seacoast and tropical areas are especially challenging for metals as chlorides combine with moisture and perspiration to form a corrosive element.
The best way to maintain the beauty of your gold plate is to take proper care of it from the beginning. Below are some tips on caring for and cleaning your gold plated jewelry.
  1.  Store your gold-plated jewelry in velvet, satin or any soft fabric-lined jewelry box. You can also wrap it in a soft material or place in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent scratches. Keep all your pieces separate from each other to prevent scratching.
  2. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before showering, applying lotion, make-up, hairspray and perfume. Soap and lotion usually won’t harm gold, but it can cause a film residue to form, making it appear dull and dingy.
  3. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before cleaning. Household cleaners and other harsh chemicals will reduce the luster and can permanently damage your gold-plated jewelry over time.
  4. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before entering swimming pools, hot tubs and before using chlorine bleach or any chlorine-based cleaning solutions. Chlorine can react with metals, particularly at high temperatures. Exposure to chlorine can erode, discolor and permanently damage your gold-plated jewelry.
  5. To clean your gold-plated jewelry at home, you’ll find many commercial cleaners available. Choose a non-abrasive cleaning material as abrasives can remove the layer of gold-plating. Please take care in making sure the product is safe to use on GOLD.
  6. Buffing your gold-plated jewelry with a soft cloth is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your pieces lustrous. If you use a jewelry polishing cloth, make sure the cloth is meant for polishing GOLD. For example, do not use a Sunshine Polishing cloth, which is formulated for silver and contains micro-abrasives, on gold plate. Using a polishing cloth that is meant for another metal besides gold could permanently damage your gold-plated items.
  7. Gold plated jewelry may also get dirty, making it appear dull and dingy. You can remove the dull film with a jewelry cleanser, soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or commercial window cleaner (like Windex), which contains ammonia. Use a soft cloth to carefully clean the item. After cleaning, rinse with lukewarm water and allow it to dry completely.
  8. If the gold has developed spots, a stronger jewelry cleaner can do the job. Be sure that the cleaning product is designed for cleaning gold and follow the manufactures’ instructions. We use Tarn-X to remove reddish brown spots that may develop. If a cleaning substance is too strong it can remove the gold.

How should I care for my Bronze jewelry?

Natural Bronze
Natural Bronze will oxidize over time, turning a darker, more muted color. Some prefer this darker, aged color as it adds character to the metal. To maintain a shiny bright finish for as long a possible, store your bronze away from the air in a ziplock plastic bag, and keep it as dry as possible. Do not wear in the shower or store in a humid environment.
All metals, including bronze, silver and gold, can react to beauty and cleaning products. Avoid contact as much as possible with perfumes, hairsprays, lotions and household cleaners.
To return bronze to its original shine, a paste made of baking soda and lemon can be applied to the item with a soft cloth. Rub until the item is clean. Wash the mixture off using running water, then dry and buff with a clean cloth.
If you like a high shine, you may prefer using a commercial metal cleaner specifically formulated for bronze or brass. Follow the instructions on the cleaning product.
Silver Plated Bronze
Some Silver Plated Bronze has an Anti-Tarnish finish added to it. This will delay the oxidation process. We do not recommend using any kind of polishing compound on the Silver Plated Bronze because the polishing abrasives will remove a layer of silver, which can expose the bronze underneath. Avoid using a Sunshine Polishing Cloth with micro-abrasives that will strip away a layer of sterling silver.
Gold Plated Bronze
Gold Plated Bronze is quite stable.The  plating process uses 98.5% or more of pure 24K gold. Very occasionally, the small percentage of other metals may react to factors in the environment like beauty products (perfume, hairspray), exceptionally humid climates and even medications that are released through the skin.

Gold Plated bronze may also get dirty and look dull or dingy. You can remove the dull film with a jewelry cleanser, soap and water, rubbing alcohol, or commercial window cleaner (like Windex), which contains ammonia. Use a soft cloth to gently rub the item with the cleaning agent. After cleaning, rinse with lukewarm water and allow it to dry completely.

Do not use cleaning abrasives on gold plate as they can remove layers of gold, exposing the bronze underneath. This includes Sunshine Cloth, which is embedded with micro-abrasives.
Gold plated bronze can also be cleaned with a chemical commercial jewelry cleaner specially formulated for gold, such as Tarn-X. Follow manufactures directions.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips

    from you.


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