Jewellery Care Brief
All jewellery items need special care from your side to maintain their appearance and improve their overall wearable life. After all, these are loved possessions you would like to cherish for a long time. Therefore, whatever the material is made of, you have to put some effort into the way you store it and the environment it is exposed to.
Hence, we aren’t generalising the caring tips. Instead, let’s look into a guide that will help you take better care of your jewellery based on its material. Without much ado, let’s dive right in.
1. Sterling Silver Jewellery
Sterling silver is generally tarnish resistant with water alone. However, they tarnish easily when exposed to unfavourable environments.
The sterling silver jewellery pieces can easily tarnish upon contact with saline water, chlorine, humidity, perspiration, bleach, cosmetics, and other strong chemicals. It might be difficult for you to analyse all the possible situations wherein your jewellery might come in contact with the above factors. Thus, as a rule of thumb, don’t wear your sterling silver pieces while:
- Doing deep cleaning or other household chores.
- Showering and bathing in pools (chlorine), hot tubs, or any water body like the sea or ocean.
- Applying makeup, fragrances, or skin care products.
- Exercising or working out (basically during activities that cause you to sweat a lot).
- While cooking or when hot temperatures are involved.
How to store sterling silver jewellery so that they don’t tarnish?
Once you have finished using the jewellery for the day, place the jewellery in a place where it doesn’t come in direct contact with too much sunlight, direct heat, or moisture. Ideally, you can place it in your drawer in the box the jewellery came with. However, you can also invest in a dedicated jewellery box with enough padding to prevent any moisture from retaining the jewellery.
Before placing the jewellery back into the box, gently wipe the jewellery to get rid of sweat or dust particles that might have been stuck to your jewellery. A gentle wine with a soft, non-abrasive cloth would be enough. But make sure you make it a point to do it every day.
How to clean the tarnished silver sterling jewellery?
If the damage on your sterling silver jewellery isn’t too serious and just a tarnish on its surface, you can easily get rid of it using home remedies. Here are some of the ways:
With baking soda
Mix two parts of baking soda with one part of water. Combine it to form a paste consistency, and gently pat the mixture onto the silver jewellery. Let it sit like that until the mixture is completely dry. Now gently wipe off the powder from the jewellery using a soft, non-abrasive cloth like a microfiber cloth.
Using a silver jewellery cleaner
If you have a dedicated sterling silver jewellery cleaner, that would be the perfect way to clean your jewellery. Pour a bit of the cleaner onto a soft cloth and gently wipe the jewellery. Within one or two wipes, you can see the tarnish fading away. You can repeatedly rub the jewellery with the cleaner as it’s completely safe, but make sure you do it gently in order to not cause scratches on the jewellery.
1. Copper-alloy jewellery
Copper-alloy jewellery pieces are so beautiful that once you develop a taste, you might not get over it anytime soon. The faint glow combined with the aesthetic gold-like brown colour suits almost all skin tones and is surely an asset to your jewellery collection. But often, you would notice some kind of oxidation and skin colouration after wearing those copper jewellery pieces. Know that this is not because the jewellery is of poor quality but because of the reactive properties of the copper element contained in the jewellery.
Thus, you will have to take some proper care to ensure that these jewellery pieces maintain their faint glow and last like that for a long period. While this is the problem of jewellery rich in copper, copper-alloy based jewellery has less copper concentration, and therefore, oxidisation reaction is comparatively low. But this doesn’t mean you won’t experience skin colouration or your jewellery won’t turn green.
What causes the Copper-alloy jewellery to tarnish over time?
Like sterling silver jewellery, copper-alloy jewellery pieces also react vigorously to acid, sunlight, heat, excess moisture, chlorine water, saline solutions, and other chemicals. Thus, as a rule of thumb, make sure you don’t wear these pieces of jewellery while you:
- Go swimming in any kind of water bodies
- Workout or do high-intensity activities
- Do household chores like cooking
- Apply your skincare/makeup products
- Spray on your fragrance
- Handle any sort of chemicals
- Applying hair or body oils
Why does your skin turn green when you wear copper jewellery?
Copper-alloy jewellery pieces are gorgeous, but not all can wear them. Even though skin discolouration is common in all people who wear these jewellery pieces, the effect is faster for some people. This happens when the person sweats profoundly or emits body oils faster than others. When copper reacts with sweat and body oils, it forms copper chelates. As a result, some of the copper gets absorbed into the skin, while what remains forms discolouration.
While this process might sound extremely dangerous, let’s assure you it isn’t. Most people aren’t allergic to copper, and this skin discolouration comes off when cleaned with soap and water. The most common areas where this is seen continuously are around the neck and fingers. In the case of fingers, the problem relates to minimal airflow between your finger’s skin and the ring.
How to safely store copper-alloy jewellery?
Always store the copper-alloy jewellery in a cool, dry place where moisture can’t get in. As sunlight is not one of the strongest allies of copper, keep the jewellery in a box and place it in your wardrobe rack. Make sure you keep the jewellery inside a padded chest and not directly into the hardbox. This causes scratches on your copper jewellery while you move the box around.
Before wearing the jewellery, apply some jewellery lacquer onto the jewellery pieces. This creates a barrier between the skin and jewellery and prevents skin discolouration to an extent.
Make sure the jewellery is not kept near your fragrances or makeup. Copper is highly reactive compared to other metals used for making jewellery. Therefore, keep it secluded from foreign substances or chemicals. This might sound sophisticated, but it really isn’t.
All you have to do is store each copper piece separately in a box and keep it all in your jewellery rack. Then, before retiring the jewellery for the day, make it a point to wipe the copper-alloy jewellery with a soft silk-like cloth. This will get rid of any particles that are still sticking to the jewellery.
How to clean your tarnished copper-alloy jewellery?
The tarnished or discoloured copper jewellery can be cleaned at home so that you can wear it long in its all glory. Here are some items that you can use to clean the copper pieces:
- Using lemon and salt: Lemon, when combined with salt, is an excellent mild abrasive to get rid of the tarnishing or discolouration on top of the copper-alloy jewellery. So first, squeeze some lemon juice and pour it generously over the copper jewellery pieces. Then, sprinkle some salt and use a soft cloth to gently rub the mixture well onto the copper jewellery. After some time, you will notice the discolouration coming off. This method only works if it’s copper or copper-alloy-only jewellery. If the copper jewellery has some gemstone embellishments, this method can damage the gemstones.
- Using a copper/brass cleaner. A commercially available copper cleaner is a great remedy to get rid of the oxidisation of copper materials. Take a little of the cleaner in a piece of a soft cloth and rub it onto the copper jewellery. Within a few rubs, you will notice that the faint shine is back on your jewellery.
2. 18K gold-plated jewellery
If you aren’t a fan of solid gold but still want to enjoy its faint yellow-like shine, then 18K gold-plated jewellery is your true companion. It looks just like gold, with a very thin layer of gold plating, but its properties aren’t exactly similar to gold jewellery pieces. Therefore, you will have to put in some extra care to ensure that these gold-plated jewellery pieces stay the same for a long time.
What can damage the 18K gold-plated jewellery?
Just like the other two categories of jewellery mentioned here, gold-plated jewellery reacts vigorously with harsh chemicals, intense heat, oils, and excess sweat/moisture.
Thus avoid wearing 18K gold-plated jewellery when you:
- Go swimming or bath in any kind of chlorine or saline water bodies
- Do household chores or do deep cleaning using bleach (the fumes can be dangerous to the jewellery)
- Apply makeup, fragrances, or any body lotion
- Handle other metals (can easily sustain scratches when rubbed against other metals)
How to store and take care of 18K gold-plated jewellery?
These jewellery pieces get scratched when you rub them against hard surfaces. Therefore, a padded jewellery box is a must. Though they don’t react vigorously with sunlight, it’s a good idea to store them in a rack where they don’t come in contact with direct sunlight.
Further, make it a point to rub off any dirt particles or fluids from the jewellery pieces with a soft cloth that usually comes with the gold-plated jewellery. You can also invest in a good jewellery cloth made of microfibre that is gentle on the jewellery yet scrapes off the dirt and other particles from the jewellery.
How to clean the 18K gold-plated jewellery to retain its shine?
If you feel that your jewellery has lost its shine, it’s time to clean and bring back the glow. To do that, all you need is soap and water. Since vinegar, lemon, and all other commonly used cleaning agents can easily react with the gold plating, it's better to stick to soap and water.
Invest in a good, gentle brush with soft bristles. Dip the jewellery in soap and water solution for about 5 minutes and gently scrape the surface of the jewellery with the brush. Now wipe off the water with a cotton ball or soft cloth, and the yellow-like shine is back on your favourite jewellery.
Well, that’s all about cleaning the most delicate and beautiful jewellery pieces. Each piece is unique in its own way, so the cleaning method also varies. Thus, you might be unable to find an all-in-one jewellery cleaner that works on all pieces. The best way is to do your research and use mild cleaning agents to scrape off the discolouration or dirt from the jewellery slowly.
But always make it a point to wipe your jewellery before it goes back into the box. This is highly important, no matter what metal the jewellery is made of.