How to care for your jewellery

Jewellery cleaning tips

Cathy Pope shares her tips for looking after jewellery like these stainless steel necklaces. Image supplied.

Jewellery is the perfect way to accessorise an outfit but it needs to be looked after to last well and stay looking it’s best. Jewellery designer Cathy Pope is a woman who knows a thing or two about jewellery care and she has helpfully provided her tips and tricks for looking after your jewellery.

Silver jewellery
The best advice for silver jewellery is to wear it! It becomes shinier the more it’s worn (the friction slows down tarnishing).

– To clean it use a mild dishwashing liquid with warm water. Soak your jewellery in a small solution mixed with warm water and rub gently with a toothbrush, rinse in warm water and dry with a soft cloth.

– Baking soda and water – mix ½ cup white vinegar and 2tbsp baking soda for 2-3 hours, rinse under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.

– Toothpaste can be used to spiffy up pretty much anything in your jewellery box, except pieces with pearls. Place a bit of paste on a toothbrush and scrub away at your dull pieces of silver, gold or gemstone jewels. Dip a clean cloth in warm water and completely wipe away the paste and buff up to shine.

– Put a couple of teaspoons of Coca-Cola into the palm of your hand, add a little water and mix it up. Then add a piece of jewellery and move it around in the mixture. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth. Soaking in Coca-Cola overnight is said to bring up gold rings perfectly!

– Lemons are acidic, and that acid can remove the build-up of tarnish on your silver jewellery. Do not use it on your white gold, gold, or pearl pieces, as it can damage them.

Jewellery cleaning tips

Use these items to carefully clean your jewellery.

Professional products:

Hagerty Silver Clean Solution

Hagerty Silver Cloth

Solid Gold
Give solid gold bracelets, chains and earrings a gentle bath in a solution of a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid and a little warm water. Put small jewellery pieces into a strainer before placing in the solution; large pieces can go directly into the bowl to soak for about five minutes. Swish the items around, then take them out, lay them on a soft cloth and go over the crevices and chain links with a soft toothbrush to dislodge any dirt trapped there. Return small pieces to the strainer and rinse everything under running water. Buff dry with a soft cloth.

Toothpaste and a soft toothbrush also work well for buffing up surfaces and removing dirt around stone settings.

Gold Vermeil
Buff VERY gently with a soft, 100% dry cloth. NEVER use silver cloth or chemical cleaners on gold vermeil jewellery as it can strip the gold finish.

Avoid scratching the surface of gold vermeil so use a very soft toothbrush with a mild dishwashing soap to polish up the surface. Don’t scrub too hard.

Jewellery cleaning tips

Be very gentle when cleaning gold vermeil pieces like these. 

Stainless Steel
Silver coloured stainless steels will NEVER change colour as this is the base metal colour. Yellow or rose gold coloured stainless steel chains have a thin layer of colour that has been added to the surface through electro vacuum plating. It isn’t as hard wearing as the silver so do take more care of these colours. I recommend mild dishwashing soap and warm water with a  toothbrush then dried off with a soft cloth.

Gemstones
You can use the same instructions as for cleaning gold, but instead of using regular water, mix the dish soap with soda or fizzy water. The carbonation helps loosen soil and removed debris trapped in the settings and on the facets.

Brush stones and settings with a soft toothbrush, clean mascara wand or floss brush,  then dip in clear water to rinse or place the pieces in a strainer and rinse under running water. Buff dry and admire the sparkle.

Turquoise, opals and pearls are porous so don’t soak them. Simply lie them on a soft dry cloth and use a soft makeup brush dipped in shampoo to go over then, wipe with a well wrung damp cloth and let them dry naturally.

Professional Products:

Hagerty Jewel Clean

STORAGE
Jewellery metal doesn’t like moisture, especially silver so store your jewellery in dry pats of your house.

Place a piece of chalk in your jewellery box or damp rid in your area as these absorb moisture in the air.

Store jewellery in a clear zip lock plastic bag and add a silica absorber. That way you can see it and no moisture will get through.

When travelling its easy to damage and lose jewellery so we’ve designed our own unique travel organizer roll that’s easy to use and see what you have.

Jewellery cleaning tips

Storing your jewellery in a travel organizer roll while travelling will keep it safe. 

Invest in a jewellery box, preferable lined in suede or fabric to avoid dust, bugs and moisture. We’ve spotted some good ones recently at Kmart, Storage Box, Country Road and Citta.

If you have a big jewellery collection consider a jewellery tray or stacker boxes that you can fit inside a drawer or on top of a dresser. For people who want to see their jewellery a clear acrylic jewellery holder or drawers is a good option.

Gemstones can fade when exposed to bright daylight so it’s recommended to keep them inside a box.

Recommendations for Jewellery storage can be found here from the Storage Box.

JEWELLERY HACKS
– If you have sensitive ears try wiping Vaseline on your earring posts or painting on clear nail polish to act as a barrier between the metal and skin. You will need to reapply frequently.

– If you lose an earring back and need a temporary fix simply slice a small section of an eraser for a temporary butterfly

– Reduce tarnishing by storing your jewellery in a clear plastic bag and add a small silica sachet

– Unknot your chains using a paper clip or to prevent knots thread your slim chains though a straw to store them

General Jewellery Tips:

– Chemicals, cosmetics and perfumes can all cloud the brilliance of gemstones and dull the surface of gold vermeil and sterling silver.

– Apply perfume and lotions well before or away from where your jewellery sits on your body.

– Remove jewellery prior to showering, bathing and exercising.

– Never swim wearing your jewellery, chlorine in pools can cause damage to the metal and erode it.

– Tarnish occurs as a result of oxidisation caused by interaction of gold and silver metals as well as oxygen, sulphur and certain acids.

Jewellery cleaning tips

Gemstones can fade when exposed to bright daylight so keep them in a box.

TYPES OF METALS

Gold Vermeil
Gold vermeil is the highest quality of gold plating. The combination of the base metal of 92.5 sterling silver coated with a minimum of 2 microns of real gold overlay gives it the long lasting quality. We use 14k and 18k gold. This is much longer lasting and higher quality than flash plating or plating over brass or alloy metals which fades quickly and is usually price indicative.

Sterling Silver
Sterling Silver consists of 92.5% silver, and the remaining part consists of mostly copper. This is the reason why Sterling Silver is popularly referred to as 925 Sterling Silver or just 925 Silver.

The reason silver needs to be combined with other metals is that it is very difficult to make great designs with just pure silver, which is very soft and malleable. A bit of hardness has to be introduced, by adding other metals such as copper. That’s why jewellers are capable of making the most intricate and complex designs with 925 Sterling Silver.

Testing for real sterling silver 

  1. Rub the jewellery using a soft white cloth. If you find any black marks on the cloth, then you can be sure that it is made of real sterling silver. This is because any air exposure causes real sterling silver to oxidize. This causes them to deteriorate with time, and the reason why black marks are found on the cloth they are polished with.
  2. Use the Smell Test. Real sterling silver shouldn’t smell. If it does, it is because there is too much copper in it.
  3. Use the Magnet Test. This is a simple test. Magnets have no effect on silver – just as they have no effect on gold or platinum. But if you find that the jewellery is attracted to the magnet, then it will be clear to you that it is not made of real sterling silver.
  4. Real sterling silver jewellery will have markings such as “Ster,” “925” or “Sterling Silver” in a hidden area. If you don’t see such a marking, be wary of it immediately.

Images supplied by Cathy Pope.

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