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The Ultimate Jewellery Care Guide

When it comes to jewellery care, there are hundreds of different articles floating around, all claiming to have the best advice on cleaning and caring for your most prized possessions. In this guide, we’ve compiled tried and tested tips & tricks for keeping your jewellery shining for years to come.

Aside from normal wear and tear on your most beloved jewellery that you wear every day, there are avoidable accidents that we have all fallen victim to at some time or another! Alongside general cleaning and maintenance advice, this guide takes time to discuss the smartest ways to store your jewellery, and how you can prevent your jewellery from becoming damaged in the first place.

Guide contents

  1. Preventing jewellery damage
  2. Checking jewellery for damage
  3. How to store your jewellery
  4. How to stop jewellery from tarnishing
  5. How to clean silver & gold jewellery
  6. Cleaning gemstone jewellery
  7. Cleaning & caring for resin jewellery
  8. Cleaning mistakes to avoid
  9. Insuring your jewellery

Preventing jewellery damage

Most people have had an unfortunate accident with their favourite piece of jewellery. Whether an earring’s backing has become damaged over time and fallen off whilst out and about, or a pendant has become scratched – broken & lost jewellery can be devastating. Prevent jewellery damage by[i]: –

  • Removing before sleeping, showering & exercising
  • Applying lotions & perfumes before putting jewellery on to avoid getting product on the jewellery (this can accelerate grime build up in links and settings that will become hard to remove)
  • Not allowing your jewellery to come into contact with chemicals – think cleaning products
  • Storing jewellery safely, securely and out of reach of small children

Checking jewellery for damage

Sometimes damage is caused by wear and tear. This kind of damage isn’t avoidable, especially when it’s a piece of jewellery you wear every day. You can prevent further damage for looking out for signs that your jewellery needs some TLC before it’s too late.

  • Check stone settings – is the stone loose? Are all the claws of the setting still there?
  • Make sure clasps are still working correctly on bracelets and necklaces
  • Look for weakened links in necklace chains
  • Gently check earring backings (both wire & post backs) to see if they are sturdy
  • Check for too much movement in hinged joints

If your jewellery shows any signs of damage, stop wearing it immediately, keep it somewhere safe and take it to a local, trusted jeweller to see what they can do to help. Usually, if you catch the damage at this stage it won’t be too hard for them to fix.


How to store your jewellery

We know how tempting it is to throw your jewellery on your dresser at the end of the day or to put less-worn pieces straight into your jewellery box until you next need it. It’s something we’ve all done, but there are much better ways to store your jewellery that will not only keep it more organised but keep it looking good for years to come.

  • Separate jewellery types – This won’t just help you when the time comes to accessorise an outfit. Different metals are likely to react to each other when stored in close proximity
  • Keep delicate jewellery protected – some jewellery might be more delicate by design, or it could be more fragile because of the metal used to craft it. Keeping more intricate pieces or soft gold pieces, for example, wrapped up in fabric or inside velvet pouches will help to keep them scratch & tangle free
  • Invest in a good jewellery box – take stock of how much jewellery you have and treat yourself to a proper jewellery box (or two… or three!). If you have a mixture of fine, costume and everyday jewellery, this will make your life much easier. We recommend going for something with a good quality fabric lining that has special compartments for smaller, delicate pieces[ii]
  • Alternative storage options – think about what your greatest annoyance is with your jewellery. If it’s tangled chains, look at getting a ‘necklace tree’ to keep your necklaces separated. If you can’t stand searching for a matching pair of earrings, get a dedicated jewellery box that is specially made for earrings

How to stop jewellery from tarnishing

In particular, gold & silver jewellery are sensitive to moisture and air and will start to tarnish, or ‘go black’ after a while if not stored correctly. Thankfully, this tarnish isn’t tricky to get rid of (we’ll tell you how later in the guide), but wouldn’t you rather avoid the hassle?

Check jewellery is dry before storing[iii] – simple enough! If you’ve been out in the rain or accidentally showered whilst wearing your jewellery, dry it thoroughly before putting it away. This is especially important for silver or sterling silver jewellery

Polish & remove grime – Before storing, give your jewellery a quick go-over with a soft jewellery cloth to polish and remove any grime.

Lower humidity – The main reason jewellery tarnishes is humidity, so try to keep your jewellery away from humid spaces. An easy trick to ensure jewellery stays dry is to keep it alongside a silica gel packet or two


How to clean Silver & Gold jewellery

Silver & gold have a naturally lustrous shine that appeals to everyone. Silver & gold jewellery is widely available and makes a popular gift but taking care of your pieces can easily fall on the back burner, and isn’t something a lot of people make time to do. It’s important to remember to handle your jewellery gently, especially more delicate pieces such as link chains and earrings.

Cleaning your jewellery is relatively simple. The following methods effectively remove tarnish from your jewellery and get rid of any grime build up.

 

Dish soap method

This is one of the more straightforward methods. Add some dish soap to warm water, mix until bubbled form and soak your jewellery for up to 10 minutes. After this, use a soft toothbrush to get to any hard-to-reach crevices. Rise the mixture off, allow to dry and polish with a soft microfibre cloth (or a jewellery cloth)

 

Salt bath method

Save this method for when tarnish is relatively developed, or there is a bit of grime build-up that you can’t reach with a toothbrush or cloth. For this cleaning method, you’ll need salt, hot water and aluminium foil. To clean your jewellery:

  1. Place your jewellery in a bowl and cover with hot water
  2. Add in your salt and gently stir it to dissolve
  3. Once dissolved, add in a few small pieces of ripped aluminium foil

This will cause a reaction that will replace the tarnish with a shiny surface[iv] Finish off by drying and polishing.

 

Buy a cleaning kit

Don’t want to use a DIY method? Jewellery cleaning kits are widely available and easy to get hold of.

 

Take it to a jeweller

If the grime is really caked on and you cant get into the settings of your jewellery without causing damage – there is no shame in taking your jewellery to a jeweller for a professional clean.


Cleaning gemstone jewellery

All gemstones are very different and can require different care. Something right for one could be entirely wrong for another.

Mild detergent, warm water and a soft cloth should be enough to keep gemstones nice and shiny. It is essential to research your particular gemstone before you start to use anything more ‘hardcore’ like shop-bought jewellery cleaners and abrasives[v].


Cleaning & caring for resin jewellery

Some jewellery has elements that are made with resin (often, companies will use resin to turn ashes into jewellery.) Resin can be quite reactive to chemicals and extreme temperatures, so it’s important you know how to look after it properly.

In terms of cleaning, a polish with a soft cloth should do the trick. To avoid damaging your resin piece –

  • Keep away from chemicals under all circumstances. This includes household cleaning products and beauty products like lotion and perfume
  • Resin is not waterproof, so shouldn’t be submerged in water[vi]. Remove your jewellery when showering, bathing and swimming
  • Keep away from extreme temperatures. Very low temperatures can cause the resin to shatter, and high temperatures may cause the resin to become malleable

Cleaning mistakes to avoid

Although many internet methods can be useful for short term cleaning, they can cause a lot of long term harm to your pieces. Always avoid: –

  • Toothpaste – This is too abrasive and will gradually wear down the metal of your jewellery[vii]
  • Lemon juice – lemon juice is acidic and much more potent than you might think (especially on delicate jewellery & more porous stones)
  • Lack of cleaning – Not cleaning your jewellery regularly can cause dirt build-ups that are difficult to remove

Insuring your jewellery

Jewellery insurance is often overlooked but is necessary for heirloom and expensive pieces – especially if you wear them a lot.

You should insure jewellery against any eventuality, including theft, accidental damage and fire damage.


Start taking care of your jewellery today

The sooner you begin looking after your jewellery, the longer it will keep its beautiful properties. Start taking care of it properly today and enjoy it for many, many years to come!

Do you have any special jewellery care tips to share?


References

Clark, L., 2016. 10 Mistakes Your Jeweler Wants You to Stop Making. [Online] Available at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/a37670/mistakes-ruining-your-jewelry/ [Accessed January 2021].

KC Designs, n.d. How do I properly store my jewelry?. [Online] Available at: http://www.kcdesignsnyc.com/jewelry-questions/how-to-properly-store-your-jewelry/ [Accessed January 2021].

Lambert, L., 2020. How to Clean Silver Jewelry in a Matter of Minutes. [Online] Available at: https://www.bhg.com/homekeeping/house-cleaning/tips/how-to-clean-silver-jewelry/ [Accessed January 2021].

NAJ, n.d. Caring for Jewellery. [Online] Available at: https://www.naj.co.uk/advice/Caring-for-Jewellery [Accessed January 2021].

Thomann, L., 2019. How to Store Jewelry So It Doesn’t Tarnish. [Online] Available at: https://www.lifestorage.com/blog/storage/how-to-store-jewelry/ [Accessed January 2021].

Tree of Opals, n.d. Resin Jewellery Care. [Online] Available at: https://treeofopals.com/faqs/resin-jewellery-care-instructions/ [Accessed January 2021].

WikiHow, n.d. How to Clean Your Silver Jewelry. [Online] Available at: https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Your-Silver-Jewelry#Deep-Cleaning-Silver-Jewelry [Accessed January 2021].

Wykoff, G., n.d. How to Clean Your Gemstone Jewelry. [Online] Available at: https://www.gemsociety.org/article/clean-gemstone-jewelry/ [Accessed January 2021].


Sources

[i] https://www.naj.co.uk/advice/Caring-for-Jewellery

[ii] http://www.kcdesignsnyc.com/jewelry-questions/how-to-properly-store-your-jewelry/

[iii] https://www.lifestorage.com/blog/storage/how-to-store-jewelry/

[iv] https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-Your-Silver-Jewelry#Deep-Cleaning-Silver-Jewelry

[v] https://www.gemsociety.org/article/clean-gemstone-jewelry/

[vi] https://treeofopals.com/faqs/resin-jewellery-care-instructions/

[vii] https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/a37670/mistakes-ruining-your-jewelry/

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