Jewelry has been used for adornment since the beginning of human civilisation. It is preferred for ornamental value by both genders in various materials including metal, wood, crystal, stone, plastic, leaves, etc. As per individual preference, it is made in different designs and patterns. Every day, millions wear jewelry for casual or formal engagements, but seldom would you consider measures that could be taken to care for your jewelry – Especially if you have a lot of them!
We understand that jewelry is not meant to be preserved in metal vaults, but to be worn intermittently, based on the occasion or your preference. Some wear and tear will be obvious; perhaps some tarnishing is natural, but knowing how to protect and care for your jewelry can make a remarkable difference in maintaining its “lifespan” for a long while to come.
Some tips can do wonders:
- Consider removing jewelry during chores – during regular activities like household cleaning, gardening, or any day-to-day tasks; consider removing the jewelry as you might just end up damaging them.
- Using cosmetics – Lotions, perfumes, or any makeup contain certain chemicals that can diminish the glow and shine of jewelry. Hence, it would be a good idea to wear jewelry only after makeup, to limit exposure to chemicals.
- Heat and light – Exposure to direct sunlight can have some effects on gemstones or to the shimmer of the ornaments. Shine and lustre are probably the first to diminish. Pearls and some gems inherit their glitter because of moisture within them; excessive heat can desiccate them and cause cracks eventually.
- Pools and Spas – Jewelry react with the chlorine contained in swimming pools and spas, causing colour change and structural damage. Before you jump in, remove your jewelry.
- Sports and Games – it would be unwise putting on jewelry when out for sports or any vigorous outdoor activity; hard blows might cause physical damage to crystal jewelry, for example.
- Jewelry in the shower – For regular jewelry wearers, it would be a good idea to remove jewelry before bathing, as soaps can form a thin film layer which can dull metals. This would also increase the probability of you having to clean it more, hence causing further abrasive damage.
- Cloths for cleaning – It is highly advisable to clean gold/silver jewelry using a proper jewelry polishing microfiber cloth to retain its freshness. Avoid using tissue or paper towels as they can cause tiny scratches on the jewelry. Micro particles of sand (quartz) are often responsible.
- Cleaning with care – Cleaning your favourite ornaments regularly is good, but be mindful of what you use. A professional cleaning solution is available with most jewellers, or you can DIY it. But be careful. For example, using denatured alcohol for cleaning can be good for hard stones, while vinegar is great for metals, but bleach is a big no no. Gemstones require special care depending on their type, hence it might pay off to know what sort of treatment is suitable for it.
- Use of ultrasonic cleaners – whilst professional ultrasonic cleaners can be very efficient in cleaning, not all jewelry can be treated with them. Avoid cleaning gemstones with them as these instruments are treated with oil, resin, or glass materials that can damage the gemstone. Moreover, the vibration generated by these high-tech machines can damage the stones internally, or even chip them. These types of cleaning techniques should best be left to the professionals instead.
- Warm water treatment – One of the most commonly used “home methods” for jewelry cleaning is using warm water. However water can react with sterling silver and cause it to fade. A remedial measure is to consider buffering or treating it with a tarnish remover first.
- Cleaning damaged jewelry – Damaged jewelry can either crack or break even more; get it repaired first before attempting any cleaning.
- Review your jeweller – Jewellers do offer cleaning and maintenance services. Before considering a professional jeweller for maintenance of your expensive baubles, do a thorough review of his service via friends, referrals, or online blogs.
- Jewelry storage – A good jewelry case is perhaps the best solution to many problems. Avoid tossing jewelry directly into the drawer or slipping it in your coat pocket. Consider getting a velvet pouch or a trinket box to store your possessions. A huge variety of jewelry storage boxes are available to do the job.
A few more tips for specifics:
Although a generic guide is adequate to ensure your jewelry is well taken care off, those having mostly metallic jewelry should consider reading further.
- Gold jewelry – Regardless of its carat, all gold jewelry can be cleaned well with mild dish detergent and warm water. Use a soft cloth to clean the remaining tarnish.
- Silver jewelry – Silver is prone to tarnishing; hence the best way to maintain it is cleaning it often, since oil from the skin speeds up tarnishing. Mix some salt and baking soda in a cup of hot water and soak your silver jewelry in it for 10 minutes. An option to consider for storing silver is a polythene pouch with a sachet of silica gel in it. If tarnished, use a good quality cleaning cloth.
- Brass jewelry – Brass always darkens with wear after some time. Wherein a number of commercial brass cleaning substances are available, the best way to maintain brass is keeping it dry! For a home-made solution, simply make a paste out of some salt, vinegar/lemon juice and baking soda, and then apply this paste to the brass, and scrub it with a soft cloth. Leave the paste on for 10 minutes and dry it.
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