Tuesday 14 September 2010

Caring For Your Jewellery

Hi Anne-Marie of Handmade by Amo’r here again with some general, basic tips for cleaning and caring for various types of jewellery. I sense a disclaimer coming along now....please note I am not in a position to advise on how to care for specific items of jewellery not bought from me. The best thing to do there is to contact the supplier.

There are a couple of simple basic care tips that apply to all jewellery.

First the obvious ones, which we can sometimes overlook. You should always apply your make up, hairspray and perfume before you put on your bling. The same goes for any other lotions and potions, which should be allowed to soak into the skin first.

Also, wearing your jewellery in the swimming pool is ill-advised. Chlorine erodes metals, while stones can get dislodged from their settings.

Heat can affect many stones so store your jewellery in a cool place.

Some gemstones fade if left for long in sunlight, particularly amethyst, turquoise and sometimes, stones that have been colour enhanced.

Jewellery trees might be a pretty way to display your beaded lovelies, but hanging strings of pearls and heavy stones or beads can cause the stringing material to stretch.

Sterling silver and un-lacquered copper are best stored away when not in use. Tarnish is oxidation. Special, tarnish free, airtight baggies or boxes, can help keep metals brighter for longer. You can buy anti tarnish paper strips and cut them up to insert into an ordinary baggie. Bagging your jewellery also prevents gemstones from scratching off each other and keeps pieces from getting tangled in the jewellery box. Pearls should not be stored in plastic as they need to breathe.

On a greener note, and better yet, you can buy anti-tarnish cloths from a good jeweller’s and wrap the pieces in them. They are a bit more expensive but are more eco-friendly.

A lemon and salt solution will brighten up un-lacquered copper pieces.

Read this post for a bread soda recipe (aka baking soda) that will clean sterling silver chains and sterling silver jewellery not containing stones, pearls or other natural materials. It is fine for pieces containing glass or plastic beads though.

Gold should be stored flat in boxes lined with satin or velvet. It is a relatively soft metal. Storing in baggies or cloth pouches may result in the components rubbing off each other and wearing away. Occasionally wash gold jewellery with gentle soap flakes dissolved in luke warm water.

Pearl or amber jewellery that has gotten very dirty can be washed in mild, soapy water too. However, I would avoid soaking strung jewellery as it may affect the stringing material adversely. Such organic gems should never be cleaned with abrasive materials. If they are not too dirty, it is best to gently wipe them with a damp cloth after wearing, let them dry naturally and then put away.

Ultrasonic cleaning is fine for most diamonds and sapphires, but not for a lot of other stones. Always check with the retailer when buying precious gem jewellery. Certain, opaque, semi precious stones such as Connemara marble, turquoise, sodalite, malachite etc should not be cleaned like this nor should they be subjected to any harsh chemicals.

To clean semi-precious gemstones, gently rub with a damp cloth and pat try with kitchen paper or a soft cloth.

If you can’t remove stone pendants from their chain, take extra care when cleaning the metal. It is best to simply use a polishing cloth regularly on the chain to prevent tarnish but sometimes you do need something more.

I wrap the stone several times in Cling film and put on latex gloves to hold it while carefully dipping only the chain and bail into commercial silver cleanser (eg Goddard’s Dip ). Please do not do this using the bread soda solution as there is a serious risk of scalding.

Another option is to wash the chain in luke-warm, mild, soapy water. After you have rinsed and dried the chain, remove the cling film from the stone and clean it with a damp cloth. Some stones can be washed in the soapy water too, rendering the cling film unnecessary.

Avoid washing or chemical cleaning of items containing alloys such as Tibetan silver or ‘antiqued silver.’ Use a barely damp cloth or dry kitchen paper to wipe them.

Most important of all, show your jewellery some love by wearing it often.


  1. What a great article! Thanks Anne-Marie!!! I've hardly cleaned my jewellery other than the silver with a silver cloth, so it will definitely come very handy! Wow, so much to know about looking after jewellery!

  2. I love your tips Anne-Marie. I had a lump of Amethyst on my very sunny window-sill for the last few months & now that you mention it, it does look a little lighter in colour so you saved my lovely stone, thanks a million.

  3. thanks girls.

    Yes Purls, the Polishing cloth is great if you use it regularly, but I'm so busy making jewellery I forget to maintain my own personal pieces.

    Glad to be of help Letizia. Is it a big crystal of amethyst? I'd love one of them, my birthstone.