Caring for jewellery

29 07 2013

If you’ve invested in a gorgeous piece of artisan-made jewellery, you want to care for it in the best way possible.

Firstly, the “don’t” list:

  • best not to wear jewellery to bed
  • best not to wear jewellery in the shower / bath (water isn’t jewellery’s best friend)
  • best not to wear jewellery when doing housework (chemicals / knocks)
  • never put doublet or triplet opals into water (if you’re not sure if your opal is solid or not, don’t risk it!)
  • keep jewellery away from heat

Secondly, storage:

  • best not to have all your finest pieces knocking about in a bowl together; the softer stones can be damaged and the metal scratched (for understanding relative hardness, check out Mohs Scale – a material with a higher number will damage the lower-ranking material)
  • sterling silver, and even fine silver, is prone to tarnish (or oxidise) when exposed to air; so if you have pieces that aren’t worn regularly, or are special dress pieces, my preferred way of storage is wrapped in acid-free paper and popped inside a zip-lock bag (and as I’m an organisational dork, I also have a little photo of the piece in the bag, so I don’t have to undo all the bags and unwrap all the pieces looking for the one item I want); no it’s not at all stylish, but it preserves them beautifully
  • gold is less prone to oxidisation, but due to being a soft metal it is more subject to scratches etc
  • oxidised (ie. blackened) silver pieces have a coating that is already oxidised, though they too are subject to scratches that may damage the finish
  • other metals tarnish too – copper, steel etc … so keeping them well stored is important
  • pearls are a special topic – I understand they’re best kept against the skin and their lustre will come back if worn; any tips on pearls storage would be greatly appreciated

Thirdly, cleaning:

  • I have pieces made with paint, paper, perspex, doublet opals and so-forth, so cleaning is not quite impossible but certainly difficult; for these I just hope that diligent storage will lessen the need for cleaning
  • for my solid metal pieces I use Hagerty silver cleaning foam (recommended by one of the jewellery galleries), it can be used on all metals
  • for pieces with (non-porous) stones in them, I prefer to take them to someone with a sonic cleaner (essentially a water bath with sound waves passed through it) – this gets in under the stone without damaging it
  • if you have a really fine chain, there are cleaning dips that may be more gentle than rubbing it with a cloth and foam
  • enameled pieces can handle gentle cleaning I think (remembering it is essentially glass) – though I’d be careful! perhaps someone can leave a comment with the best means of cleaning enamel work?
  • if your jewellery is made of alternate materials, my biggest tip is to be VERY careful! in fact, best approach is to ask the maker or gallery you bought it from about how to care for it

Lastly, if your jewellery item is in need of some care and attention (maybe even repair), contact the maker or gallery you purchased it from – they’re the experts.

Also remember you can have your pieces refinished – after a few years of wear one of my favourite rings was pretty scratched up, so I took it to a jeweller and had it cleaned, polished and matt finished – good as new.

Jewellery is meant to be loved and enjoyed and WORN! So care for it and you can wear it for decades to come.

[If I’ve left off any other super-duper tips, please please do leave a comment – the more the merrier!]


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2 responses

29 07 2013
Roxanne

I was glad to see your post on this topic as I have had clients ask numerous questions on this so I have designed a day class that I will be taking at CAE for the Winter course guide that covers the above mentioned and more.The care of individual items is such an important factor to take into consideration to preserve your jewellery pieces.
JEWELLERY RESTORATION AND CLEANING
HVY36002 | 1 session Sun Sep 22 10.00am-4.00pm | City
http://www.cae.edu.au/web/?cinfo=courseguides

29 07 2013
Karen

Fantastic Roxanne!




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