Proper Care and Feeding of Your Handmade Jewelry
We love jewelry. Adornments, ornaments, things that sparkle and shine. But how do you keep those gorgeous things sparkly and shiny? There are lots of ways to clean and take care of your items so they will last a long long time.
Gold and Sterling Silver – This lovely metal may be polished with commercial Jewelry or Silver Polishers or you can try these neat and environmentally friendly tricks.
Option One – This works for lots of jewelry, including Sterling Silver and Gold. You will need a Toohbrush (Soft Head), toothpaste (paste not gel) and Baking Soda. Baking Soda is a mild abrasive, but it will not scratch or harm the metal. Commercial polishers can eat away at the metal’s surface, causing it to weaken and possibly break later. Using warm water (not HOT!), put toothpaste on the brush, dip it in some baking soda gently run the
brush across the surface of the metal, and watch the shine return. Safe for *Gemstones. Remember to thoroughly dry your pieces before putting them away. No they will not smell minty-fresh.
Option Two – Silver only. This method should not be done with items that have Gemstones, mounted or otherwise included in the jewelry item. You will need a glass or pyrex baking dish, preferable rectangular. Line the baking dish with Aluminum Foil (shiny side up), place your silver on the foil in the dish. Dust the items with baking soda, now pour boiling water over the your pieces in the dish. The reaction is almost instantaneous, you can watch the tarnish being pulled to the foil’s surface and away from your jewelry. This method may require you to rinse your pieces after the cleaning process to remove and residue left from the baking soda. This works great for your Serving Silver as well.
Never wear your sterling silver in the shower, or to bed, your skin’s natural oils can ruin a chain, and consistent exposure to soaps, shampoos and other chemicals (even perfumes and hair sprays) can harm your jewelry and change its appearance. Always take your jewelry off at night and keep it in a jewelry box or soft cloth bags, away from and out of direct sunlight.
Gemstone although rocks, are still susceptible to damage caused by heat and chemicals and even simple cleaning techniques. Here are a few tips to keep those rocks looking their best.
Emerald, Pearls, and Turquoise – NEVER, and I mean never use heat, not even hot water to clean these stones. Emeralds are very brittle and can break or crack easily when introduced to heat, they can also burn or change color. Turquoise is a soft stone and it too will change color or break when heated. Do not use Ultra-Sonic cleaners with these stones either, a good dusting with a soft cloth should keep them shiny and free of debris.
Pearls, although not a stone, are a natural substance called “narce”, heat and harsh cleansers, even baking soda can ruin the narce exterior surface and loose luster or break. Pearls should be stored in a soft cloth bag or necklace box to keep the strand away from light and collecting dust. Dusting them with a soft cloth will keep them looking like new.
Diamonds, Amethysts, and other stones like quartz and chalcedony family of stones, may be cleaned in Ultra-sonic cleaners, or steam-cleaned. In the case of Carnelian, a chalcedony, in it’s natural state is a muddy brown color, it is not until heat is introduced to the stone that it becomes the wonderful vibrant orange prized by Jewelry Designers.
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