Do you want your jewelry to last a lifetime? Sure you do! But in order to have it around forever, you'll have to remember to maintain it properly. Consider “give to get” your new motto and know this: if you give your precious accessories enough attention, they'll repay you with years and years of spectacular shine. And don't worry, it's not a time-consuming endeavor! Keep reading as we walk you through 10 essential jewelry care tips for pearls, for gemstones and for gold, silver and amber pieces.
Part A: Jewelry Care Tips To Follow On A Daily Basis
You know what they say: it's the little things that matter! These simple nuggets of advice are all about what you can do to effortlessly protect and care for your jewelry on a daily basis.
1) Jewelry Should Be The Last Thing You Put On And The First Thing To Take Off
Wait until you're fully dressed (with your face and hair done) to accessorize. Why? Your jewelry should never come in direct contact with make-up, perfume, hairspray, body cream or tanning lotions. The chemicals, preservatives or coloring in these substances can easily damage your sparklers. Plus, adding your jewelry as the final touch will give you time to pick just the right pieces to compliment the entire look. At the end of the day, take off your jewelry before undressing to avoid tangling and tearing.
2) Leave Your Jewelry Behind If You're Involved In Physical Activities
Exercising, team sports, swimming, scrubbing, gardening, cooking, dish washing, doing laundry... With all of these, you run the risk of hurting yourself or your companions when you wear jewelry. No to mention, your precious items can get irreparably damaged (or lost!) in the process. Do remove small stud earrings or dainty rings even if you believe they can take a grueling gym session – you never really know what can happen.
3) Store Jewelry Appropriately
Always store your jewelry away from the sun in a clean and dry place, and never keep different types of jewelry in contact with each other. Before putting them away, make sure your sparklers are not tangled or contorted. Use a soft-lined jewelry box and place each piece in a different compartment. This is particularly important because gemstones can easily scratch gold or silver pieces if they come in direct contact. Also, there's a high chance other pieces will get tarnished if touched by silver jewelry. Earrings, bracelets, and rings should be kept in boxes, metal necklaces should be left hanging, while pearl necklaces need to be stored laying on a flat and soft surface so that the string won't get stretched.
4) Long Term Jewelry Storage
If your jewelry came in a special box or pouch, use that for long term storage – it was made to fit and protect it, after all. Pay special attention to silver pieces, as they can easily develop tarnish from exposure to air. For longer periods of time, put them away in a box with anti-tarnish lining or keep them wrapped in anti-tarnish cloths.
5) Inspect Your Jewelry Regularly
Especially if you wear them often or if they're valuable pieces, take a close look at your jewelry every couple of months. Check every piece individually to see whether the gemstones are still attached safely, whether something is bent or missing, whether the closing clasps are functional and whether the prongs that support the stones are not loose. Better safe than sorry! Also, it's a good idea to restring your pearls often (once a year), as the fine silk thread can become loose over time.
Part B: How To Clean Jewelry At Home
1) How To Clean Silver Jewelry
So, you want to clean your silver jewelry? First off, check if it is an originally-oxidized piece – namely, see if the darkened areas form a background that brings out the shiny details. If this is the case, remember that the oxidizing was intentional and avoid wiping it away by accident.
Method I – maintenance cleaning: If the dirt specks are not hardened or compacted, start by rubbing the surface with a jewelry polishing cloth. If you can't be bothered to order it or don't have the time to wait for the delivery, something you can find around the house will do. This is what works: 100% cotton textiles, microfiber cloths or lint-free flannels. Paper, mixed or polyester fabrics can leave tiny fluffs behind or, worse, can even scratch the surface of your pieces, so skip those by default.
Method II – soap and warm water: Grime didn't come off entirely? Go one step further, with soap and warm water. Cover up your jewelry in soap, wait a few seconds, then proceed to rub gently. Rinse immediately with warm water and wipe off with a clean cloth. Use this method especially if your jewelry has a shiny, mirror-like finish. Otherwise, if the finish is matte, you can proceed to the following two methods, which rely on baking soda. You may also have heard about using toothpaste for cleaning jewelry, but doing that is not advisable in any scenario.
Method III – baking soda paste: Prepare a baking soda paste by adding water until it reaches a uniform consistency. Dip a clean toothbrush in the resulting mixture (use a soft bristle brush) and use it to scrub the dirt off your silver jewelry. Rinse immediately and dry with a soft cloth.
Method IV – only for stubborn dirt or tarnish: Take a small bowl and line it completely with aluminum foil. Place a tablespoon of baking soda and one of salt on the foil, add in the jewelry and pour hot water on top until everything's covered. Stir gently, then leave everything in place for about 5 to 10 minutes. When the time is up, remove the jewelry, rinse with clean water and dry with a clean soft cloth. Repeat if necessary. Important note: Don't use this method for jewelry adorned with gemstones or something else with a setting, as they might come loose!
2) How To Clean Gold Jewelry
Luckily, gold is not as susceptible to tarnish as silver, but that doesn't mean you should let your guard down. Worn daily, gold jewelry can accumulate grime and its shine can get dull. If you see that happening, restore it to its glorious state by using one of these 2 methods:
Method I – soap and warm water: Using mild dish detergent and warm water, make a soapy solution and allow your gold jewelry to soak in it for a few minutes. Pull it out and gently scrub with a toothbrush (again, a soft-bristled one). You may only need to do this if the piece is particularly dirty and you need to buff off serious grime. Otherwise, simply work your fingers around the edges, then rinse using clean water and dry with a clean soft cloth.
Method II – boiling water: Line up your gold and place it in a bowl so that no pieces touch. Bring water to a boil and pour it into the bowl, on top of your jewelry. Be careful not to accidentally burn yourself! The grease, grime or dirt should come off and float up in bits – that's good! Wait for the water to cool down enough so you can safely get your jewelry out and pat it with a soft rag. Allow to air dry laying flat, hang to dry if it's a necklace. Important note: If your gold jewelry has gemstones or something else with a setting, don't use this method as they may come loose!
3) How To Clean Jewelry With Gemstones
If you have silver or gold jewelry decorated with gemstones (you lucky girl!), never immerse it in water. Gemstones could fall off, especially if they're glued in. Instead, clean the pieces by making use of a soft cloth. Prepare a soapy mix in a glass and dip half of the cloth in it. Gently wipe the gold or silver parts, avoiding the gemstones. Flip the cloth over and dip the clean end into the warm water. Then, gently clean the soap off the jewelry, making sure no residue is left. To clean sensitive, but dirty gemstones (coral, turquoise, lapis lazuli, amber, malachite), swiftly go over them with a moist cloth several times. Nothing more!
4) How To Clean Pearl Jewelry
Pearls may be timeless and elegant, but they're also quite fiddly when it comes to maintenance. Since they are organic, they are soft and porous, so make sure that they are never immersed in water (their fine, silk thread can weaken). With pearls, the cleaning process should be gentle. Avoid detergents, soaps, baking soda or ammonia at all costs, as irreparable damage would occur. These delicate beauties are vulnerable even to perspiration, so they should be cleaned with a soft, lint-free and slightly damp cloth periodically. Fun fact, though: wearing them regularly will actually keep their luster alive and kicking – they get polished against your clothes just as you move around!
5) How To Clean Amber Jewelry
Specialists have contradicting opinions on whether or not amber should be submerged in water, so better err on the side of caution and simply not do it. Instead, wipe with a moist cloth and dry immediately. If the dirt is stubborn, prepare a mild mix of soap and warm water and dip the end of a soft rag in it, then wipe to gently remove any grime. Use a clean damp rag to remove the soapy solution, then another clean rag to dry. Finish with a touch of olive oil: rub a drop or two in your hands are work it all over the amber. Polish to remove excess with a soft cloth for a restored shiny finish. Another tip how to clean amber jewelry is simply by spraying some Pledge and polishing with a cleaning cloth.
Ok, you should be all set now! A final word of advice? If you have a very special piece of jewelry (intricate details, vintage pieces, family heirloom etc) and you're afraid to clean it yourself, your best option is to play it safe and take it to a professional.
Your turn: What's your top jewelry care or cleaning advice?