I know that you want your jewelry to last forever, to always look just like the day you bought it or receive it as a gift. But it may surprise you to learn that there are some “to do's” as well as some “don't do's” to keep your jewelry in picture perfect shape.
The number one cause of jewelry “fails” is from wearing it too much. Yes, this is true. If you have a piece you love to wear, don't love it to death! You know how a pair of shoes will start to look worn out if you wear the same pair day in and day out, in rain or shine, through mud and sand? The same will happen to your jewelry if it is not cared for.
An example: A woman brought her pearl necklace to me to “fix”. She had not purchased this necklace from me but knew that I was very familiar with pearls and pearl stringing on silk. Frankly, I didn't even recognize the beads as pearls. Their nacre was so worn off, cracked and dirty that I couldn't tell what it was. Also, there was a lot of space between each pearl. It turns out that the woman loved this necklace so much, she NEVER took it off. Never! Not in the shower, not to bed, not in the swimming pool. Well, just picture how your favorite pair of shoes would look if you wore them 24/7 for 5 years! Would you be surprised that they didn't look brandy spanking new?
So my number one tip is to take off your jewelry at the end of the day, do not wear it in the shower (wedding rings are the exception), and never in a swimming pool or spa. Those chemicals are extremely harmful to all types of metal. This goes for necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings. You are free to ignore my advice, but your jewelry will pay the price for overuse.
People often expect that jewelry will remain in perfection condition when worn because it is most often made of metal, so the expectation is that it can't get damaged. While metal is very durable, and some metals are harder than others, metal will get scratched and can wear down from the friction of your body, especially rings. This doesn't happen overnight, but the wear will eventually show. If you're going to be working in the garden with hand tools, either wear gloves to protect your hands AND your jewelry, or take off your jewelry. If you spend hours a day typing on a computer and your bracelets are continually bumping the keyboard, you can expect to find dents!
Beware of beauty products coming in contact with your jewelry. Hair spray, lotions, make up, and perfume contain chemicals that can wear away the finish on your jewelry and dull the sparkle of any gemstones. A rinse in warm water can go a long way in keeping your jewelry clean and clear of harmful chemicals. Commercial jewelry cleaners are also helpful. I keep my jewelry clean by a gentle wash in warm water and a swish of Dawn dishwashing soap (the blue kind). Don't use ANY citrus scented cleaners as the citric acid will surely damage your jewelry!
And what about silver jewelry, my personal favorite, that becomes tarnished? You can remove tarnish by using a soft silver polishing cloth, using a gentle rubbing motion. But to keep your silver jewelry from quickly tarnishing (oxidizing), I suggest storing it in a sealed zip lock style plastic bag. The trick is to keep it from the air. I have literally hundreds of pieces of silver jewelry in my studio and each piece is stored in a small zip lock bag. I don't have much trouble with tarnishing because of that.
Pearls are unique and have their own special care requirements. I will address those in a future blog. So, love your jewelry, but don't love it to death!