You did it. You purchased a gorgeous piece of jewelry and you love it and wear it often. But lately you realize it's not looking the same. It appears a bit dull and the stones don't sparkle like they once did. Your jewelry needs cleaning and today's newsletter is all about cleaning and storing your jewelry.
The following is the biggest and most important tip I can share: Always, always, always, put your jewelry on LAST. That is to say, don't put your rings, necklaces, earrings, bangles, or any other jewelry on until after you have finished getting ready. Powders, sprays, lotions, they all blanket your jewelry--minute particles settle on your jewelry over time, dulling the sparkle. Once you've primped and fiddled and are ready to walk out the door, then, and only then, should you put your jewelry on. And the same thing, only in reverse, applies in the evening. Once you arrive home, always remove your jewelry right away. Then, go cook, garden, wash your face, whatever your routine, after that. Making your jewelry the last thing you put on in the morning, and the first thing you remove in the evening, will help keep it looking pretty for much longer.
I can hear you all thinking, ok, Tracy, that's well and good. But, I'm not going to do that so what do I do now? Great question.
Never hang necklaces. Period. Those jewelry holder thingies with the arms? Can't stand them. I store all of my necklaces flat. (Actually, I store all my jewelry flat.) Gravity works on everything--your face, your backside, and your jewelry. Necklaces strung on thread, like pearls, will stretch out much faster if stored hanging. Wire jewelry can become distorted and misshapen. If it is a heavy necklace, the constant weight of it hanging can cause metal fatigue, which can cause metal to become brittle and break. And, you don't need a fancy jewelry box to store your jewelry. What I suggest is to choose a drawer from your chest of drawers or bureau and use that to store your jewelry. Line it with a folded-double white cotton pillowcase, and lay your pieces on it flat. (I buy inexpensive packages of white cotton pillowcases from Target.) Don't overlap the jewelry: leave a bit of space between pieces so they don't scratch each other. You can also use a safety pin to secure each piece to the pillowcase. Store pearls and easily scratched gems separate from everything else, to prevent damage. Keep your silver separate and place a tarnish retarding insert in the drawer where you are keeping your bright/shiny, silver jewelry.
(The exception to this is for silver that is oxidized. I love oxidized jewelry, and I use that treatment for a great many silver pieces that I make. You will want to keep your oxidized pieces separate from your shiny silver so that the oxidized pieces don't dull or tarnish the non-oxidized, shiny finish.) For rarely worn pieces, place them on the bottom, then place another folded double pillowcase on top of that for the next layer of those items you wear frequently. Then, if you need to get to the bottom items, it's easy to pick up the sides of the pillowcase and lift it off to access what's at the bottom. It's also easier to keep track of what you have. You can see it all at a glance.
What I do, and what has become a habit, is I clean each piece after each wearing, before putting it away. I use a damp, not wet, just slightly damp, paper towel and wipe the piece down gently. Very gently. Then I place it on the pillow case, leaving the drawer open to allow for any moisture to evaporate for about 10-20 minutes, and then close it after that. Note: your jewelry should not be dripping wet. You are just using the paper towel to remove any oils/sprays/lotions or perspiration. Doing this daily becomes a habit and reduces the amount of cleaning you would need to do otherwise.
Every so often you will need to clean your jewelry. I refuse to use sonic cleaners. All of that supersonic movement, in my experience, loosens the settings. This is just my opinion. You may love them--and that's fine if it works for you. I, however, will take a non-toxic jewelry cleaning/polishing cloth and gently wipe down the jewelry piece getting into any nooks and crannies but avoiding wiping any gemstones with the cloth to prevent scratches. I then thoroughly rinse the piece afterwards in lukewarm, running water. I pat dry with a paper towel and allow the piece to air dry on more paper toweling overnight. Once dry, I put the jewelry back in the drawer. (To reduce waste, I save the paper towels and reuse them to clean up after my little (horribly spoiled) toy poodles, Lola and Sophie.)
For pearls, I suggest using clean, slightly damp paper toweling to gently wipe the pearls clean. Avoid wiping the knots or stringing material in between the pearls. Then, as above, lay flat to air dry before putting away. Never soak pearls, put in a sonic cleaner or leave in cleaning solution. You will weaken the stringing thread and, in certain chemicals, the pearls will disintegrate and turn to mush. Have your natural pearls restrung every few years. Over time, the thread will stretch and to avoid loss, it is best to have them restrung professionally.
For jewelry set with kunzite, a pale pink gemstone, limit its exposure to sunlight, which can fade it over time. Opals and Turquoise are porous, so never use cleaners on them as that can lead to discoloration. And the last/first rule applies doubly for these stones as they can be severely affected by oils, lotions, perspiration, etc.
With proper care, your gemstone jewelry will look its best for a longer length of time between cleanings and provide enjoyment to you for years to come.