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Caring for Your Precious Metal Jewelry

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

I get many questions regarding how to clean your jewelry. First, I say it is always a good idea to bring your jewelry to a jeweler that does work on site to check and clean your jewelry, and to do this every 3-6 months. Not all sales people are jewelers, so make sure, wherever you go, there is a jeweler on site to look at your jewelry. This goes for any of your jewelry, no matter the price point. The cost for this can vary, depending on what is needed and how much time is spent on the process. For myself, if it is just a matter of a quick check and a steam cleaning, I rarely need to charge, but if it is a complete refinishing or something that takes more time, then I would charge accordingly.

Sterling silver is made up of about 7.5% other metals, usually cooper, which tarnishes. Pure silver doesn't tarnish, but it is too soft for jewelry wear.

The key to tarnish-free silver jewelry is prevention. Although you can't completely protect silver from air, or moisture, you can do your best to limit exposure. You may store your sterling silver in soft, anti-tarnish bags or a plastic bag, in a cool, dark place. The lower the humidity, the better.

How to care for precious metals:

Here are some recommendations for cleaning various metals.

The best method will depend on the other materials in the piece, such as turquoise, pearls, and other gemstones or precious metals. You can use warm, soapy water and a very soft brush. Avoid harsh detergents and chemicals. You can use a gentle soap like Dawn dish soap if needed. You can also use a polishing cloth that can be found at most jewelry stores, and the polishing compound is already impregnated into the cloth. This can be reused many times even when the cloth turns black from use.

For your gold jewelry, it will likely scratch over time. The only way to take the scratches out is to have it professionally polished. I don't recommend you do this too often, as it does take away miniscule amounts of metal when doing this. Once or twice a year is usually sufficient...depending on how it is worn. In between polishing, a simple cleaning and steaming is all it needs.

There are a multitude of different remedies that people talk about, but I prefer the" less is more" processes. Toothpaste and baking soda can be too harsh and scratch, and vinegar can harm porous stones. Again, if the jewelry piece is precious, consult a professional before cleaning.

Remove your jewelry when using bleach or before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub. The chemicals can affect the alloys in the metal and make prongs or other ears of the piece, brittle.

Here are some tips to care for your jewelry:

• Avoid wearing jewelry when applying makeup, perfume or hairspray.

• Remove jewelry when using bleach, or before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub. The chemicals can affect the alloys in the metal and can make prongs or other parts brittle.

• You can clean precious metals such as gold and silver with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Make sure the brush is very soft otherwise it can cause scratches. Use a soft cloth to dry and buff your jewelry once it’s cleaned.

• Afterwards, polish with a jewelry polishing cloth for smooth surfaces. Avoid using tissue or paper towels as they can cause scratches.

• Store your jewelry safely and ideally away from air (to prevent tarnishing for sterling silver).

• Do not store your jewelry inside leather as this can tarnish the sterling silver metal.

If you aren't sure on how to clean your jewelry, you can always come in and I can let you know the best process for your pieces. Your jewelry is valuable, so it deserves to be treated like the precious item that it is.

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