Caring for your Jewelry
You did it! You’ve purchased a fabulous thing from Silver Creek Glass & Jewelry, now you’ll want to maintain it so you’ll be able to enjoy it for years to come. Caring for your jewelry is easy. I’ll discuss some things you’ll want to avoid while wearing your jewelry, next, I’ll go over storing your jewelry, then I’ll discuss how to easily clean your jewelry.
I have a “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy when it comes to jewelry. I know some of you are like me and never take your jewelry off, so while you can jump right to the cleaning portion of this post, be sure to at least skim the things you should avoid to avert potential disasters.
The 5 S’s of Jewelry
You want to avoid anything that is going to speed up the tarnish process on your jewelry. Fortunately, we have the ‘5 S’s of Jewelry’ to help us do that. Don’t know what the 5 S’s are? Don’t worry, I’m gonna fill you in below!
The 5 S’s of jewelry tell us not to: Shower – Swim – Sleep – Sweat – Spray – while wearing your jewelry, but why, none of those things seem too bad? Let’s go over the S’s!
Shower and Swim – You want to avoid exposing your jewelry to chemicals such as those found in swimming pools and hot tubs, including chlorinated tap water. Chlorine can discolor precious metals and erode gemstones, even discoloring porous stones like turquoise. Saltwater is very damaging to both metal and gemstones.
Heat is another consideration that can have detrimental effects on gemstones. Avoid intense and/or prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or tanning beds. Some stones are heat and/or light-sensitive and colors may become washed out if exposed to sunlight or extreme heat for any length of time. Be mindful of cold water too, as it causes your fingers to shrink just enough for your ring to slip off and you not notice.
Spray – Don’t wear your jewelry while you apply hairspray, make-up, lotions, creams, bug spray, tanning sprays, or other products, even at the salon. Aside from the potential chemical reaction between your jewelry and whatever chemical you’re slathering on, these things tend to build up on your jewelry, especially in the tiny nooks and crannies, and can discolor and erode the metal and gemstones. This also includes household cleaners, and even doing dishes. Some of you do dishes in water so hot you’d think it was heated directly from the fires of hell. High temps like that can affect some enhanced and treated stones.
Sweat – Sweat contains both salt and ammonia which can be corrosive your jewelry, especially sterling silver, as it’s a silver-copper alloy.
Sleep – Sleep? Really? Yes! Sleeping with your jewels on isn’t the most horrid of things you can do, BUT it is the time when you’re most likely to lose a gemstone or earring. Sleeping in jewelry with prongs causes lots of wear and tear on the prongs from getting snagged on the bedding, clothes, and your hair. You won’t notice most of these snags but they will loosen the prongs just enough to free the stone. Freeing nipples is good, freeing gemstones is bad. The same is true for earrings. I have multiple ear piercings and small hoops are my daily drivers, yet I lose one or two in the bed on a fairly regular basis from the backs snagging on my pillow.
Storing your Jewelry
How you store your art when it is not being displayed is an important step in caring for your art. Proper storage of your jewelry will mean less time cleaning it and more time wearing it! There are several different options when it comes to how you choose to store your art. Ultimately, you’ll have to choose a method that works best for you and your environment.
You will want to store your Silver Creek jewelry in a cool, dry place, preferably away from the air if possible, as air will cause your silver to tarnish, moist air doubly so. The easiest way to store your jewelry is to keep it in a jewelry box wrapped in a soft cloth. This is how I currently store my pieces. The jewelry I make for the shop is kept in tiny plastic baggies in a drawer and works equally as well.
If you would rather not have to polish your silver that often you can purchase anti-tarnish baggies and pouches or anti-tarnish strips to put in your jewelry box. Some regular baggies, usually the cheap ones, can release chemicals that can cause your silver to tarnish. You can even buy an anti-tarnish jewelry box. I’ve never used any of these things so I am unable to pass along any first-hand experience.
Cleaning your Jewelry
Regularly cleaning your jewelry will keep it looking fabulous for years. I highly recommend using Sunshine Polishing Cloths for this and provide a small yellow cloth sample with your jewelry purchase. The cloth can be used for a long time, even after they are all black with tarnish. I have a yellow cloth on my jewelry bench that I’ve been using for about 5 years now. It looks dirty but it still cleans beautifully! They also have a cloth for satin finishes.
At least once a year you should give your treasures a good deep cleaning. I know it can be tempting but do NOT use dips, solvents, or polishes for precious metals. They will damage your gemstones. You could take them to your local jewelry store and have them do it, or you can DIY it, and we love to DIY, don’t we! You have 2 options for giving your Silver Creek jewelry a deep clean. Both options are easy and you should have most of the items you need already on hand.
The first way to clean your piece is with warm bottled water and a drop of Dawn dish soap.
Warm your bottled water however you’d like and put it in 2 separate bowls, or any small containers you have handy. In one bowl, add 1 drop of Dawn and mix with your finger. The other bowl will be your rinse water. Dip your piece into the soapy water and gently swish it around. Take it out and put it in the rinse water and swish it around.
Remove it and, with your soft cloth, gently blot dry. Leave out to air dry completely.
Polish with your polishing cloth and store as normal.
This method of cleaning is good for after wearing your art piece and for pieces that are oxidized.
The second way is electro-chemically and works well. Before we go on I have one final warning:
**WARNING** DO NOT USE THIS ON OXIDIZED PIECES. IT WILL STRIP THE OXIDATION.
For this, you’re going to need 2 shallow glass bowls, aluminum foil, baking soda, and warm bottled water.
Line one of your bowls with the foil. First, heat your bottled water however you’d like and split it into 2 bowls.
Next, in the bowl with the foil mix 1 tsp of salt and 1 tsp of baking soda until it’s dissolved.
Finally, drop your piece in the dip and let sit for about 5 minutes, making sure it makes good contact with the foil.
Remove and immediately immerse into the clean water and swish around.
Dry with a soft cloth, polish, and store as usual.
If you get in the habit of caring for your jewelry after you’ve been wearing it, along with proper storage, you can reduce the time you spend cleaning. Of course, the best way to keep tarnish off your jewelry is to wear it!