Here's a quick guide on how to clean and care for your jewelry based on the different metals and materials. With so much variety, it's important to know which pieces in your collection require a bit more TLC and which ones you don't have to worry about as much.
The best and longest-lasting metal that won't tarnish! Wear your solid gold jewelry all day, every day! However, although gold is very strong, it's also the most malleable of all precious metals. This makes it susceptible to dings, scratches, and dents. Be mindful of your gold rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets while you wear them, and remove them while playing any high-contact sports or activities.
To Clean: Mix a small amount of mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. Place the jewelry into the bowl and let sit for a few minutes. Use a soft toothbrush (like a baby toothbrush) to gently scrub the jewelry. Remove item from soapy water, rinse it and dry thoroughly with a soft polishing cloth. You can also use a polishing kit for extra shine and to remove any tarnish.
Gold-filled is an actual layer of gold pressure-bonded to another metal such as brass. It’s not to be confused with gold plating as filled literally has 100% more gold than gold plating. Gold-filled is much more valuable and tarnish-resistant if taken care of properly. Most people who can wear gold can wear gold filled without worries of any allergic reaction to the jewelry. Solid gold is of course an exquisite piece of jewelry, but gold filled is an amazing (& affordable!), quality alternative. Avoid wearing in harsh or chemical waters.
To Clean: Although 14k Gold-Filled jewelry will not tarnish (if cared for properly), it will get dirty. The oils from your skin transfer to the metal and need to be washed off periodically. The easiest way to clean your gold-filled jewelry is to scrub it with an old soft toothbrush and shampoo or dish soap. Rinse well, pat dry, and air dry. Make sure your jewelry is completely dry before storing it. You can also use a jewelry cleaner solution to shine up your gold-filled jewelry.
Not to be confused with regular gold plating. Vermeil is a much thicker layer of gold, which gives the pieces their long-lasting color. Vermeil is an overlay of gold over a base of sterling silver. Gold vermeil jewelry requires special care. Remember to store your gold vermeil jewelry in an airtight container when not in use—and to remove it before applying perfumes, lotions, or before bathing. Chlorine, especially at high temperatures, can permanently damage or discolor your vermeil jewelry. Avoid wearing vermeil jewelry while using chlorine bleach or while in a pool or hot tub. Vermeil doesn’t like sweat or water. Before exercising or showering, remove your Vermeil jewelry.
To Clean: Buff VERY gently with a soft and dry 100% cotton cloth or a microfiber cloth. NEVER use chemical cleaners on gold vermeil jewelry – it can strip the gold finish. It is natural for gold vermeil jewelry to tarnish with time—it adds character to the item and makes it more unique. The time it takes for vermeil to start losing its color depends on the individual wear and skin chemistry.
Silver is a mixture of pure silver and some other metal, usually copper. The resulting alloy gives the silver strength. The standard is at least 92.5% silver. Hence the .925 stamps you see on some sterling silver items. Silver tarnishes naturally over time and quite quickly when it comes into contact with oxygen or sulfur. But this can be cleaned easily. Happily, the best measure to prevent this is wearing your silver jewelry often. The oils in your skin help prevent tarnish. (This varies depending on your own body chemistry.) When storing your silver jewelry, use an airtight plastic bag (like a Ziploc) and if you can, put in a piece of chalk or a silica gel (the little packets in new shoes) these will help prevent tarnish while you are not wearing your silver jewelry.
To Clean: If your silver is tarnished the best way to clean it is with a jewelry polishing cloth or a solution. There are also many viable home remedies for cleaning silver online. Just remember that silver is very soft so use something like a very soft baby toothbrush to avoid scratching. Be particularly careful of chlorine. Chlorine, especially at high temperatures, can permanently damage or discolor your silver jewelry. Avoid wearing silver jewelry while using chlorine bleach or while in a pool or hot tub. Tarnish is also accelerated in a humid environment. Oily salts from fingers can also tarnish silver.
BRASS & BRONZE
Brass is known for its strength and durability. However, it is also very malleable, making it ideal for shaping into intricate jewelry designs. It does not break easily as it is not a brittle metal. Rather, it tends to stretch when under pressure. Brass jewelry can last through the ages with reasonable care and maintenance. Brass does not rust and is resistant to corrosion. However, it does develop a patina, or greenish layer, over time. This is due to the copper content in the alloy. Brass tarnishes over time and loses its luster and golden gleam. While some people like the appearance of the tarnished piece, others prefer the bright luster of brass. To avoid tarnishing, brass can be sealed or lacquered. Because of the copper content in brass, wearing brass jewelry can sometimes turn your skin green. This occurs because the metal oxidizes and reacts with the sweat from your body, creating copper chelates. While the skin cannot absorb pure copper, copper chelates can. The excess copper that isn’t absorbed by your skin is what turns your skin green.
To Clean: A commercial brass cleaner will restore your piece's original shine. If this is unavailable, use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste to polish it, as it can be scratched easily if you use abrasive items, or soak the piece in Coca-Cola for a few minutes. Dirt and grime build-up reduces the luster of brass so regularly washing your brass jewelry in warm water and soap will keep it shining. Use a polishing cloth to buff the brass and maintain its luster.
We use an array of precious and semi-precious stones, from diamonds to turquoise. Most gemstones are not fans of water or chemicals. Also, prolonged exposure to sunlight may cause certain gemstones to become paler.
To Clean: Simply wipe them down with a clean and moist cloth.
1. Store your goodies individually in an airtight plastic baggie or jewelry box.
2. Avoid rough wear to slow down the natural process of “wear and tear”.
3. Perfume, hairspray & other types of lotion may contain harsh chemicals that can tarnish your jewelry over time.
4. Humidity is the enemy; keep it dry!
5. For extra care, gently wipe each piece of jewelry clean of any products and skin oils with a soft jewelry polishing cloth.
6. Never use abrasive products to clean your jewelry. They can damage gold plating irreparably.
7. Remove jewelry during labor-intensive tasks, or when cleaning with any harsh chemicals.
8. Avoid wearing your jewelry in the ocean or swimming pools, as salt water and chlorine can cause damage.