New jewelry is bright and shiny, but as time goes by it can begin to look opaque and dull. As a jewelry users, we have two options: (1) we can enjoy the patina that develops over time (which can add character to a piece) or (2) we can slow down the tarnishing process and learn how to bring the jewelry back to its original luster.
While keeping in mind the second option, I have compiled some basic tips on how to care for and clean your jewelry. I’ll begin by sharing some general advice that you can use for all metal jewelry and then I will focus on sharing specific recommendations for each metal.
- As a rule of thumb, remove all your jewelry when exercising, swimming & cleaning. I know this can be annoying, but exposing your jewelry to sweat, chlorine, salt water and chemicals will tarnish (and sometimes damage and discolor) your pieces.
- Store your jewelry in a clean and dry place. I’m a big advocate of displaying jewelry in pretty ways around your room, but the truth is that we need to be selective. For example, if a piece is prone to tarnishing and you enjoy wearing it bright and shiny, then is best to keep it protected inside an airtight box. On the other hand, if you have a piece that does not tarnish easily or a piece that you love because of the patina that has developed over time, then yes! do keep it out for everyone to see. Remember that there are many beautiful jewelry cases that can also make awesome displays. If you need some ideas, you can see some here.
** The tips below are for jewelry that does not have stones in them.
GOLD: Although gold jewelry will not tarnish over time, it can accumulate dirt and grime making it look dull. The easiest way to clean it is by soaking your gold jewelry in warm soapy water for about 15 minutes and then gently scrubbing it with a soft bristle brush. After removing the dirt, rinse the piece(s) thoroughly with warm running water and pat dry with a soft cloth.
GOLD VERMEIL: Gold vermeil is an overlay of gold over a base of sterling silver and, as such, it will tarnish over time. To clean gold vermeil, use a mild dish soap and a soft-bristled brush under warm running water. Rinse well and dry the piece with a soft non-abrasive cloth. Make sure the piece is completely dry before returning to storage as water residue can cause staining.
STERLING SILVER, BRONZE & BRASS: Although there are many ways to clean silver, bronze and brass jewelry, I have found that the easiest and fastest way is by using a treated polishing cloth. I use this particular cloth to clean my jewelry, and although it’s labeled as a “Silver Care Cloth” it works great on brass and bronze as well.
BRONZE & BRASS: When cleaning bronze and brass be aware that sometimes jewelry made out of these metals may have a protective transparent coating to keep tarnish away. If this is the case, avoid using treated polishing cloths or brushes with cleaning mixtures on these pieces, as they could remove the coating.
Hope this information helps you keep your jewelry looking great!