Jewelry and Stone Care
Written by Linda Michaels
STERLING SILVER CARE AND CLEANING
To keep your sterling silver looking its best and tarnish free follow these suggestions and it will look as nice as the day you bought your jewelry.
Do not apply hairspray or perfume after you put your sterling silver on. The chemicals and lacquers in the items will cause residues or spotting on the silver.
Bring your jewelry to a jeweler every couple years for a cleaning and polishing.
If you live near the ocean, your silver will tarnish quicker, because of the salt in the air. The same happens in a coal-mining area because of sulphur oxides which mix with air to cause tarnish. In large urban areas, carbon monoxide in the air will cause your silver to tarnish.
Do not store jewelry together, they will knock together or scratch each other. Zip lock baggies, or cloth pouches are great. Do not store leather pouches. The tannins in leather will cause tarnish.
Cleaning is not the same as polishing! Clean in a mild soap and warm water solution and pat dry with a soft cloth. If need be, use a cleaner labeled for silver, DO not put opaque stones in a silver cleaner, it will dull them. A chamois or other polishing cloth is all you need to polish.
NEVER rub sterling silver with anything except a polishing cloth or very fine piece of felt. If you use paper towel or tissue paper it can scratch because of certain fibers in these items.
Air and light will cause sterling to tarnish. It should be stored in a cool, dry place. Anti-tarnish bags and anti tarnish tissue are available or wrap in a soft cloth.
High sulfur release from glues will tarnish sterling.
Before you put your sterling away, after wearing it, give it a quick wipe down with a soft cloth.
The black smudge problem on your skin is caused by chemicals in cosmetics,medicated creams, lotions, talc and toothpaste. A few of these chemicals are: zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, ferric oxide, calamine and pumice. The chemicals are harder than the silver so they stick to the underside of jewelry and then abrade the silver and leave particles on the skin, which appear black because they are too small to reflect light.
Sterling silver improves with age and develops a nice patina, treat your silver kindly and it will give you years of wear, with a soft look.
Do not wear your sterling silver in a pool or hot tub. Chlorine will turn your jewelry black. This oxidation is very hard and a jeweler may have to buff it off. Buffing a chain is difficult, it may be ruined, unless of course, you like the black patina!
Dos and Don’t of Caring For Your Jewelry
Your jewelry will not last forever with out the proper care.
All stones will chip, break, crack, even diamonds!
Do not hide your stones in the freezer.
Do not wear more than one bracelet on the same wrist, they will wear on each other, the smaller one breaks first. This can also apply to wearing a bracelet with your watch.
Wearing your hoop earrings to bed will cause them to catch on bedding. The earring may bend or break and also may cause your ear lobe to tear. Earrings with stones set in prongs are not good with bed linens either, prongs may get caught.
Rings are made to be worn, but, be realistic, not through thick and thin! A stone does not just fall out. Jewelry has to be put through trying times first. “I wasn’t doing anything and the stone just fell out!” When a jeweler inspects it, they will probably find, bent prongs, dented, bezel, and or gouges in the shank. It is temping to jump to the conclusion that, should a piece become damaged or show signs of wear, it must be an inferior product. This is not always the case. There are light weight pieces, but you can tell, when you purchase it. With proper care, a light weight item will serve you well, also. Remember, every time you grasp a handle, turn a door handle, or wash your hands, you leave minute traces of metal from your jewelry behind.
You may think about antique jewelry as lasting into it’s third generation, why? Because our great-grandmothers did not wear it doing household chores, gardening, sports, and etc.! They wore their jewelry with stones or other non-wedding band jewelry on special occasions, not everyday. So… those pieces are still here today, for us to enjoy.
Do not wear your jewelry through thick and thin.” I don’t think to take it off, or won’t remember to put it back on”, you say, well, then you will have to have it repaired more often than your great- grandmother did.
Chlorinated water is the worst for your jewelry. Why wear your jewelry in the garden, to show it to the birds and worms? A porcelain s