Zilberschmuck's tips on Jewellery Care and Cleaning 
Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:15PM
albertacraftcouncil in Jewellery, Tips

Being in the jewellery business over the years I have heard many stories regarding lost, stolen and damaged jewellery. Although I can’t help you find your lost or stolen jewellery here are a few tips for keeping what you have looking its best. Some of what you’ll be reading may seem like common sense to most people but it warrants being said to encourage those that take chances to reconsider before it costs them in the end.

• Do not wear your jewellery while cleaning and cooking. Chemical cleaners can be harmful to metals and stones as well as the activity may cause damage. Wearing your rings while cooking can expose them to many things that can make them potentially harmful, like bacteria from raw chicken for instance.

Do not wear your jewellery while exercising. Chlorine in swimming pools and saltwater oceans are not good for your jewellery. Wearing your jewellery at the gym is not a good idea as your sweat will tarnish silver and lifting weights can scratch and dent your rings. Best to leave it at home – for an extra incentive, many people have had their lockers broken into at the gym and their jewellery taken. (See intro).

Take your jewellery off before bathing or going to bed. You will end up making your jewellery dirty by showering or bathing with it on. Fabrics, hair and clothing can catch on your jewellery while sleeping.

Use the last on, first off rule. After you finish grooming/dressing put on your jewellery and make it the first thing you remove before undressing. Never apply hair spray or perfume when you are wearing pearls.

Apply hand cream and allow it to absorb into skin before putting on your rings. Best advice is to apply your hand cream before you go to bed and you are not going to be wearing your rings.

When not wearing your jewellery store rings in slot storage boxes, lay necklaces and pendants flat and not touching one another. Stacking metals causes scratches. When travelling always have pieces bagged separately inside a box to avoid unnecessary damage. Separate chains from pendants whenever possible or double bag the pendant by putting the pendant into a small bag leaving the chain outside the bag and place this bag inside another larger bag.

• Clean silver jewellery with a commercial silver polish cloth. These are available at department jewellery stores. I usually have a few extras for customers available. For heavily soiled pieces, see below.

Home recipe for cleaning dirty (not tarnished) gold and silver pieces containing synthetic, diamonds and semi-precious stones. Soak in equal parts rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide and hot water for 10 minutes, (if it is too hot for your hands- it’s too hot), rinse in clean water and dry with a soft cloth.

For pieces without stones you can use the ‘salt and tinfoil method’. Line the bottom of a bowl with tin foil, (shiny side up or down does not matter), pour one tablespoon of baking soda, one tablespoon of salt on top of the foil and cover with hot water, (not so hot it would burn), add jewellery in a single layer and make sure it touches the tin foil. Rinse in clean water and dry with a soft cloth. This method can also be done in your sink to clean large silver pieces like trays and silverware.

Deliberately oxidized ‘antiqued’ sterling silver should not be cleaned with method #9. A commercial chemical cleaner made by Hagerty offers a special product to clean patina silver. “Hagerty Silver Foam” in a white jar- this brown paste is used with a moist sponge to make foam and rub off tarnish without affecting the antique finish. Apply paste and foam up on the silver then rinse in clean water and dry with a soft cloth. It is very mild and is good to use on silver and gold as well.

• “Hagerty Silver Care” in a blue jar, is a pink paste that has an anti-oxidizing agent ‘R-22’ in it. To clean, use the same method as above.

• “Hagerty Silver Clean” & “Connoisseurs Silver Jewellery Cleaner” liquid cleaners.

These chemical dips have harsh chemicals, are irritants and should only be used on items that are too difficult to clean using the other methods listed above. I have found that habitual cleaning with the liquid cleaners can cause the silver to tarnish more often. I recommend using them on silver only without stones, never for pearls and no more than 5 seconds, then wash and dry very well. If not dried properly, a ‘stain’ will appear on the silver within a couple of days and you’ll have to clean it again.

• Use an old soft bristle toothbrush to clean interior of rings. You can also add a little bit of toothpaste to the brush to clean out dirt. Just make sure you don’t use a lot, as you will spend more time trying to remove the toothpaste then necessary to clean the ring. When using a toothbrush to clean in and around prong set diamonds, be careful not to force the bristles into the setting in case you loosen the prongs.

• If you are susceptible to rashes from wearing your ring, keep it in rubbing alcohol when not being worn to prohibit skin and bacteria from building up on the inside of the shank.

Here’s to keeping your jewellery lovely and enjoying it for years to come!

Click here to visit Zilberschmuck's blog

Article originally appeared on Alberta Craft Council (http://www.albertacraft.ab.ca/).
See website for complete article licensing information.