What a lot of jewelry consumers unfortunately don't realize is that proper jewelry maintenance will help to ensure that their jewelry will last a lifetime. A lifetime? Yes, truly! Keeping your jewelry in great condition is possible with just a few simple prevention measures. Especially with my custom name necklaces, one way to prevent them from tangling is to keep them stored in plastic airtight bags when not in use.
After lots of questions and several requests from customers, I put together a short list of 5 Easy Jewelry Care and Storage tips so that your jewelry will last a lifetime.
But, first things first, its essential that you keep all original packaging that your jewelry came with as there will usually be some kind of jewelry care instructions or a leaflet describing what material your item is made from. At a minimum, keeping all original packaging, box, or gift pouch is important if you don't already have any storage so that you can keep your new necklace, bracelet or earrings stored in it when not in use in it, and to keep them safe.
Also, knowing as much as possible about the material your jewelry is made from, is key to making it last for a long time. As a side note, I should probably say that your jewelry may not last a long time if its cheaply made, or even if you think its cheaply made (read: it cost $1, $2, $5). Sometimes you just have to use good judgement about what you are purchasing, who your'e purchasing it from and what you'll be using it for.
Before I began to make my own jewelry line and then sell it professionally, I bought jewelry from everywhere! Everything from well made handcrafted jewelry purchased at artisan markets, to really cheaply made jewelry at places like Claire's, e-Bay, etc. I've had jewelry that I purchased online for as cheap as $10 over 10 years ago and most of it has maintained in good condition because of just a few simple rules I follow:
1. Keep it in an airtight plastic bag
plastic airtight bag. And then store that plastic bag in your jewelry box. Keeping sterling silver, solid gold and gold filled chains in airtight bags are especially important because it will actually PREVENT the metal from tarnishing quickly. Keeping soft gemstones like cultured pearls and freshwater pearls in plastic is also important because the plastic barrier will keep your pearls from rubbing up against other metals and scratching the pearls. This will also keep the luster and shine on your pearls longer.
2. Put jewelry on AFTER putting on any lotions, sprays, perfumes and oils
Putting jewelry on after you put on any lotions, sunscreens, perfumes and body products is a great way to prevent product build-up on jewelry. Having these substances, in combination with natural body oils, build up on your jewelry will quickly change the color of your gemstones, pearls and metal chains. It is even more essential that you put pearls on last because putting lotion and perfumes on top of pearls will quickly eat at the nacre of pearls and the acid contained in these products can quickly change the color of cultured pearls and freshwater pearls as well from a lustrous white to a dull yellow.
3. Take All jewelry off before showering, washing dishes, going into the pool and before bedtime
Excessive exposure to water and especially chlorine from your pool can quickly deteriorate the color, and quality of jewelry. It can erode protective coatings on metals like sterling silver, brass, copper, gold fill and even erode the metal itself! Also harsh pressures from showers and even faucets can loosen small gemstones from their settings and make them easier to lose. Its easy to see why so many people lose gemstones from ring band settings! Taking jewelry off before bedtime is a great way to let your jewelry breathe and prevent it from losing its shape and luster while you toss and turn in your sleep. It will also prevent any kinks from occurring in chains. At bedtime, take off jewelry and store valuables safely in a jewelry box. I like to store my personal jewelry in small plastic airtight bags inside of clear acrylic bins so I can see whats inside without having to open it!
4. Wipe off sweat, body oils and dirt from jewelry regularly
After wearing your jewelry all day, especially under the hot sun during the summer time, its very important to wipe off any sweat, sunscreen build up or excess skin which may have accumulated on it. Sometimes, its nothing more than just a few dead skin cells which happens organically and can't really be prevented from ending up on jewelry. This can usually be removed by using a soft polishing cloth (made for that specific material) and very gently wiping it off before storing it.
5. Use a Polishing Cloth when appropriate
Its a good idea to purchase a polishing cloth to keep your jewelry shiny and in most cases it can also be used to wipe off excessive product buildup, like hairspray and sunscreen, moisture and sweat. However, normal polishing cloths should not be used on gold filled metal jewelry, as the top coating can easily just be polished right off.
Using it on sterling silver, solid gold and other metals like brass and copper are usually fine in most cases, however its always a good idea to consult with your jewelry manufacturer first.
Need a polishing cloth? I've got small polishing cloths for use with sterling silver and solid gold in my shop here.
So what about gold filled or gold plated jewelry? How should you care for it? Firstly, preventative measures are best. Be sure to put perfumes and body lotions on before putting on your jewelry and always store it in a protective bag when not in use. When it does occasionally become heavily tarnished, use a soft damp cloth (an old soft jersey t-shirt works well) and gently wipe off excess dirt from the jewelry. Be sure the cloth is damp, not wet, and polish very gently otherwise the top layers of gold may be stripped right off.
Some of you may be thinking- but what if I purchased a necklace, earrings or bracelet from someone who did not give me a box, protective plastic bag or pouch to store it in? Or worse "what if I received one and accidentally threw it away?" Well, the good news is, you can always use a kitchen size resealable airtight storage bag (like ziploc or a similar brand). However, if you choose to do this, I highly suggest you use the smallest plastic airtight bag you can find to keep the moisture and air out. You can also purchase small ziploc style polybags here on my website and as a bonus, if you liked the tips in this blog, I'm including with your purchase of the poly bags, a highly detailed report with tips and tricks on how to keep jewelry clean and safe to last a lifetime.
I hope this post has been helpful!
Have questions? Please comment below or feel free to email me.
Until Next time!