Caring for and Cleaning Handmade Artisan Jewelry
Silver and gold and gold filled and vermeil, metals commonly used in artisan and handcrafted jewelry, are particularly reactive to the environment, chemicals and particularly to moist or wet conditions. Humid weather is challenging for metals as chlorides combine with moisture and perspiration & become corrosive. Never wear your jewelry in the shower, pool or hot tub and never leave it in your bathroom.
When in doubt, we advise bringing your jewelry to a professional jeweler for cleaning as your safest option.
Caring for your Silver Jewelry
1. A Sunshine cloth or a soft polishing cloth meant specifically for silver is a very good way of caring for your handmade jewelry. However, do not use a Sunshine cloth for polishing gold, it can abrasive. Polish your jewelry after every few wearings and your pieces will remain looking like new.
2. A few drops of mild dishwashing liquid, a cotton swab and a very soft toothbrush can also be used if your jewelry is dirty . If the jewelry contains gemstones or pearls, do not submerge the entire piece into water or the cleaning liquid. A cotton swab with mild dishwashing liquid can also be used for cleaning silver jewelry.
3. Never clean your jewelry in bleach! Bleach will make metals brittle and could literally breakdown your jewelry. Chlorine bleach, alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia are also harmful to gemstones and pearls. These chemicals will dull and possibly pit the surface of softer gemstones (opals, lapis, turquoise, apatite) and pearls.
4. Despite common advice- do not use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. The abrasives in toothpaste can damage surfaces of metal, pearls and stones.
5. On occasion a silver dip can shine silver to a lustre- but NEVER DIP pearls into silver dip, the lustre will immediately disappear!
6. Store you silver jewelry in a ziplock plastic bag with anti-tarnish strips, and clean often to keep things looking new.
7. Keep jewelry separate to avoid scratching.
Caring for your Gold filled or Gold Vermeil Jewelry
1. Store your gold-plated jewelry in a soft fabric-lined jewelry box or wrap it in soft material and store it in a re-sealable plastic bag to prevent scratches & oxidation. Since real gold plate is on the surface of these pieces, it is prone to scratching and rubbing off. Keep pieces separate from each other to prevent scratching.
2. Remove all gold-plated jewelry before showering, applying lotion, make-up, hairspray and perfume. Soap and lotion usually won’t harm gold, but it can cause a film residue to form, making it appear dull.
3.Remove all gold-plated, gold filled or vermeil jewelry before cleaning. Household cleaners and harsh chemicals will reduce the luster & can permanently damage your gold flled and vemeil jewelry.
4. Always remove gold filled or vermeil and silver jewelry before entering swimming pools, hot tubs & before using chlorine bleach or chlorine-based cleaning solutions.Chlorine at high temperatures found in hot tubs can erode, discolor and permanently damage your gold filled or vermeil jewelry.
5. To clean your gold filled or vermeil jewelry at home, you’ll find many commercial jewelry cleaners available. Choose a non-abrasive cleaning material as abrasives can remove the layer of gold-plating that is on both gold filled and vermeil jewelry. Make sure any cleaning products you use are safe for gold.
6. Buffing your gold-plated jewelry with a soft cloth is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your pieces lustrous. If you use a jewelry polishing cloth, make sure the cloth is meant for gold. A Sunshine Polishing Cloth is formulated for silver and contains micro-abrasives- they are not suitable for gold jewelry.
7. Gold filled or vermeil jewelry may get dirty, making it appear dull. You can remove the dull film with a jewelry cleanser, soap and water, rubbing alcohol or window cleaner (Windex), which contains ammonia. Use a soft cloth to carefully clean the item. After cleaning, rinse with warm water and allow it to dry completely.
8. If the gold has developed spots use a cleaning product is designed for cleaning gold and follow the instructions carefully.Tarn-X is a product that can remove reddish brown spots that may develop due to chemical reactions. If a cleaning substance is too strong it can remove the gold, so test and clean gingerly.