The best way to clean your jewelry at home is to use a polishing cloth. These can be purchased online or at most shopping outlets. You can also use a warm damp wash cloth but be careful around stones and prongs. For bigger jobs they need to be taken to a jeweler to be steamed out. Most jewelry stores do this free as a courtesy but do charge for refurbish jobs.
Jewelry Rules and Guidelines to making your pieces last forever
Jewelry, like anything else in this world, will breakdown with regular wear and tear. Following these simple and timeless care guideline will keep your jewelry looking beautiful and lasting the test of time.
Jewelry Rule 101
‘The first thing you take off and the last thing you put on’
A very old proverb, drilled into my mind by my grandmother, covers so much by saying so little. The obvious common sense comes into play like, taking your jewelry off first so it will not get snagged on clothing and caught in hair. But there is much knowledge that has been lost with the golden age of glamour and old world advice. These times have been hushed by the computer age socialization and small talk text.
Purchasing from Mom and Pop shops, individual artists, or any small entity will usually lead you to such information but this is the practice of small business. Large chains hand you a number and make this very same number your name. Please listen (or read) well and take practice in such adornment divinity.
Soap and Lotion
When I worked in large chain stores I would see women come to the counter in tears because they lost a diamond. The rep would bring the ring back to us and it was already known before we examined it. Soap and Lotion. Bar soap and lotion can do more damage to your jewelry with stones than most realize. When you wash your hands with bar soap, the lathered soap gets into your jewelry. After it dries it hardens, expands, and cakes. When it is wet again it softens and then re-hardens. This creates a ‘rocking’ effect. Imagine a liquid soap or lotion getting in between your stone and the metal, then expanding when it hardens then shrinking when it liquefies. Back and forth all day. Until you have a loose stone. Do not wash your hands with your rings on. Do not apply lotion with your rings on. Take them off!
Showering in your Jewelry
It is not advisable to shower in any jewelry. Not just jewelry with stones but simple metal bands as well. Sure the chemicals in your cleaning products are a big reason and the above reason about soap is also a concern but showering is jewelry that is made of silver is never a good idea. Especially if your skin is highly acidic. The water and cleaning products mix together increasing the acids and lift oils from your skin. Once it hits the metal, it is hard to rinse off. IT usually gets trapped under the ring. This is why your silver jewelry can turn your finger black but not affect the ring itself… or so it seems. This can also happen on very hot days because of the acid in your skin mixing with sweat. It really depends on how acidic you are. People who have diabetes usually have very acidic skin and this black staining is usually a known problem with silver. Take off before you shower.
Food preparation with your jewelry on
This is another age old rule told from Grandmothers to mothers to granddaughters in the kitchen year round. There are certain foods and ingredients used in the kitchen that can destroy jewelry within 24 hours. Example: Vinegar will dissolve a pearl. Even if a small amount gets on the pearl, a significant difference will be seen in the pearl within a day or so time. Always take jewelry off while cooking.
Household cleaners have many abrasive chemicals that can damage your stones, release jewelers epoxy used for the additional setting of pearls or any non-prong held stone, or remove plating such as rhodium plating used over white gold. Take off before you clean.
Commercial cleaners/ liquids solutions for jewelry cleaning
Most commercial cleaners, powder to water solutions, and chemical based pre-packaged solutions are made by certain companies that would benefit from you needing to come in for a pricey repair. Do not use these products.
Using a toothbrush to scrub your jewelry
You will hear on the wire that a toothbrush is good for jewelry cleaning but I promise you this is a very bad idea. Not only will it scratch certain softer metals like gold and silver but it can also aid in loosening stones.
This goes back to the first simple rule stated above. Put your jewelry on last after you have used hairspray, perfume, or any other products that have chemicals or oils. Do the best you can to keep your jewelry from chemical exposure.
Strenuous labor and/or working with hands
It’s moving day, work on the car day, build a birdhouse, all the way to gardening. Jewelry can get nicked, dinged, smashed, clinked, and even chipped. Take it off if you are using any kind of tool or major appliance.
Resin jewelry cannot be exposed to chemicals such as hairspray, perfume, oils, or cigarette smoke. If you wear a resin ring on your smoking hand you are sure to have a yellow shade over your piece. This also occurs with hairspray and certain perfumes. There are oils, lotions, and certain cleaning products that share the same ingredients that can breakdown your resin piece and make it soft and mushy. Take great care with chemicals around your pieces.
I think it’s silly not to arm people with knowledge. Please remember these rules with all types of jewelry. Take great care of your pieces they are meaningful because they are a reflection of who you are in this world. With care and love you can pass them on charged with a piece of you and a great wealth of knowledge.