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Caring for Handmade Jewelry

When you want an individualized look, you wear handmade jewelry, but wearing these unique pieces of jewelry means you'll need to clean them as they are exposed to chemicals, the elements and the little messes of everyday life. Because handmade jewelry is delicate, caring for it requires special measures. Keep your handcrafted jewelry clean and beautiful for years to come by following these simple steps for cleaning and storing unique jewelry. If you would like to download a pdf version of this page, please click this link

  • Clean regularly:  Clean your jewelry after each wearing with a soft cloth before putting it away. This will remove the oils from your skin and debris picked up throughout the day and help prevent tarnish.
    • Sterling Silver Jewelry
      • The first important way to keep jewelry from tarnishing is to keep it clean. If you put it away tarnished, the tarnish will worsen during storage.
      • Avoid abrasive polishes, dips or scrubbing tools. And remember, dips and commercial jewelry cleaning products will remove the antique patina and any oxidized detailing on silver, gold and copper.
      • For minor cleaning, use a soft silver polishing cloth.
      • Do not dry sterling silver with paper towels or tissues because they can scratch the silver. Always use a soft cloth.
      • Exposure to air, humidity and moisture causes tarnish. To minimize tarnish, store your piece in a zip-top bag with the air squeezed out.
      • A diluted solution of mild dish liquid and water can be used to clean your silver jewelry. Be sure that you dry it thoroughly removing all traces of moisture before putting it away.
    • Copper Jewelry
      • Copper tarnishes over time just like silver. If you like the antique patina, you can just keep it clean by wiping it with a soft cloth. Remember, dips and commercial jewelry cleaning products will remove the antique patina and any oxidized detailing on silver, gold and copper.
      • Exposure to air, humidity and moisture causes tarnish. To minimize tarnish, store your piece in a zip-top bag with the air squeezed out.
    • Semi-Precious Gemstone Jewelry
      • Do not use dips or abrasive cleaners on gemstones.
      • Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner, ammonia or other chemical solution to clean opaque gemstones like onyx, turquoise, and opals. These stones are porous and may absorb the chemicals causing discoloration.
      • Do not immerse your semi-precious gemstone jewelry in water.
      • Wipe them gently with a moist cloth and then dry them with a soft, lint-free cloth before putting them away.
      • Do not store semi-precious gemstones in direct sunlight.
    • Swarovski® Crystal Jewelry
      • A soft, lint-free cloth can be used to restore the brilliant sparkle of Swarovski® Crystal. Simply hold the cloth between your thumb and fingers and roll the crystals back and forth, continuing along the piece until you have cleaned them all.
      • If they require more than just cleaning with a cloth, you can use a soft, moist cloth or even baby wipes to clean them.
    • Glass Bead Jewelry
      • Glass beads can be cleaned with mild dish soap and warm water. Dry them thoroughly with a soft cloth before putting them away. You may also wish to air dry them for a time to be sure there is no moisture remaining in the bead holes.
    • Freshwater Pearl Jewelry
      • Freshwater pearls are soft and can be easily scratched. They can also be damaged by extreme dryness, but never immerse them completely in water. An occasional cleaning with a moist, soft cloth is best.
      • Be sure to avoid chemicals like alcohol, ammonia, bleach, chlorine, acetone, hairspray, perfume and cosmetics.
      • Do not use a silver polishing cloth on pearls.
         
  • Prevent damage:
    • Do not put your jewelry on until AFTER you have dressed and applied any cosmetics, hairspray, perfume, lotions and other chemicals. These can dull and even harm your jewelry.
    • Do not sleep with your jewelry on. This causes unnecessary stress on the components and will make them more likely to break.
    • Never wear your jewelry while swimming, sitting in a spa/hottub or sunbathing; extensive exposure to chlorine, bromide, saltwater, sunlight or harsh chemicals can permanently damage your handmade jewelry.
    • Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap can cause a film to form, making it appear dull and dingy.
    • Remove jewelry before doing household chores, especially when washing dishes. Remember, many household cleaners contain bleach or other harsh chemicals (ammonia, acetone, hairspray, perfume, etc.) that are harmful to jewelry.
    • Contact Sports and Jewelry Don't Mix– Hard blows during sports can damage jewelry not to mention the people involved. All jewelry should be removed before play begins.
    • Inspect your jewelry regularly for signs of damage, or loose gemstones
  • Store properly:
    • When not wearing your jewelry store it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.  Never store your silver handmade earrings or other silver jewelry pieces in the open air, as this will make them tarnish faster.
    • Silver jewelry should always be stored separately from other jewelry in airtight plastic bags to prevent scratching from other jewelry and tarnishing from the moisture in the air.  You can place silver anti-tarnish strips in your storage container to absorb the oxidants that discolor and tarnish jewelry.
    • Silver handmade earrings often come with special plastic bags in the right size to protect them.
    • Handmade necklaces and handmade bracelets made of silver can differ a lot, so be careful how you store them; pieces with lots of ornamentation shouldn't be stored with sleek and simple jewelry.
    • Necklaces made of other metals that don't tarnish like silver should be hung to keep them from tangling.
    • Bracelets and rings can be set in drawers, while earrings should have special posts or holders for the pins and clasps.
    • Keep your jewelry pieces separated to avoid scratching. I recommend storing each piece in its own zip-top bag with the air squeezed out and I provide one with each piece of jewelry.
    • When travelling with jewelry, use a case. Traditionally made of fabric or leather, a jewelry travel case can carry jewelry of all types and easily rolls up to a size that's easily stored in most suitcases, makeup cases or business attaches. Clearly, a case like this is a good investment to protect your jewelry on the road.