You love your jewelry and you take every chance you get to wear it at parties, at work, on holiday and other occasions. Like all other components of fashion, a piece of jewelry makes a statement about who you are, reflecting your personality and lifestyle; that’s why you want those pieces to last.
No matter what type of jewelry you prefer – antique, vintage or modern, precious metals or gemstones, silver, gold or antique effect metals – every piece is prone to deterioration and tarnishing over time. Therefore it is important to know best practices for cleaning and organizing your accessories in order to maintain their longevity.
How to store your jewelry
Jewelry made of copper, silver and brass is likely to tarnish eventually, but sterling silver is probably the most vulnerable. This means that over time, it will get a thin layer of corrosion like a grey or black coating. You can either prevent the build-up beforehand, or you can remove it afterwards. As tarnish is a result of the metal’s reaction to airborne chemicals, it is important to keep your jewelry in a closed box or container.
The best way to store your jewelry pieces is to keep them separately, in their original package, so they won’t scratch each other. If necklaces are to be placed in a drawer, make sure to leave them in individually sealed plastic bags. Sometimes jewelry can get tarnished even in a box. To avoid this you can place either a piece of chalk, silica bags or anti-tarnish strips such as these in the container. Alternatively, you can use jewelry boxes with separate compartments for each piece, like rings and bracelets. Jewelry organizers make for the most efficient means of storage, where solid pieces like those found here act as multi-purpose furnishings to house your full collection no matter the size, giving each piece its proper space.
Keeping your jewelry clean
Every time you wear your jewelry, it comes one step closer to deterioration due to the contact with your skin, sweat or perfume. Although it is recommended that jewelry avoid contact with perfume, this is not always possible as the most commonly known spots for application are the neck and the wrists.
Depending how often you wear your jewelry, create a cleaning routine once a week or once per month using household items.
Soapy water can be used for a wide range of jewelry, including gemstones, without damaging them. Simply rinse the items in a bowl or bucket of solution using baking soda, vinegar, or detergent. Following this, use a soft toothbrush to clean chains and other metals or a cloth for diamonds and stones. Rinse and wipe with a dry soft cloth and pack your jewelry away.
Exceptions from this general cleaning ritual are soft gems (pearls, amber and coral) and antique accessories. The latter are not recommended to be worn on a regular basis; always ask a specialist for specific care advice. As for soft gems, as they tend to dissolve, simply wipe them with a damp cloth.
If your jewelry tarnishes, you can easily remove it using items which you likely already own. See below for an easy guide!
Sterling silver – One of the most common removing solutions is toothpaste. Place your jewelry in a recipient with toothpaste and use a soft toothbrush or your fingers for removing the unwanted coating. Rinse with warm water and wipe with a clean cloth.
Copper – You can remove tarnish with vinegar, lemon juice or ketchup. Rub the jewelry with the liquid or dip it in a recipient with the juice and leave it for a few minutes then rinse and dry. Be aware of any gemstones within the piece as the acid might damage them.
Gold – Although real gold doesn’t get tarnished, it can become discolored over time. Soak the gold jewelry in a recipient with soapy water for five minutes, rub it gently, rinse and dry.
Brass – Use half cup of white vinegar, one tablespoon of salt and enough hot water to cover the jewelry. Let it soak for 20 minutes then rub it with a brush, rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Some metals have an intentional antique effect like antique silver and copper. If they look tarnished, this is a protective coat called patina and once removed, the jewelry will become shiny and lose its value. The best way to clean antique effect jewelry is by wiping it with soapy water, then rinse and dry straight away to prevent water stains.
Taking good care of your jewelry doesn’t take much time. By simply implementing a regular cleaning routine and storing your pieces in a sealed container or jewelry organizer, you’ll maintain their individual characteristics, allowing for wear and enjoyed for years to come.