Back when vintage jewelry was reasonable on EBAY ... I purchased quite a bit and learned these cleaning tips later ... after I had ruined some really nice pieces. Remember my blog about the vanishing coins?
One of the most dependable and most recognized fashion-jewelry brand MONET has great advice: "Care for your costume jewelry as you would fine jewelry. Simply rinse in warm water and pat dry with a soft (non-abrasive) cloth. Avoid substances like chlorine, salt water, and commercial jewelry cleaners as they can damage the finish of your jewelry. We also recommend that you put your jewelry on after you apply makeup, perfume, and hair spray."
Please remember that anything with rhinestones should not be immersed in water (it can eventually damage the foil on the back of the rhinestone ... which is what makes it shimmer in the first place). More on the care of vintage jewelry later.
1. Clean crystal and glass jewelry to keep them sparkling bright by spraying a small amount of window cleaner onto a clean cotton cloth and gently wiping the crystals. As you do this, be sure not to get the stringing material wet. For gemstones and other beads, simptly wipe with a soft, clean cloth.
2. To clean tarnished silver jewelry, rub it gently with a soft, nonabrasive polising cloth. Cloths made especially for this purpose can be purchased at Art and Soul, jewelry stores, hardware stores, and more. When a polishing cloth becomes dirty, buy a new one. Do not try to wash and reuse ... have a couple on hand.
3. You can find commercial cleaners for different kinds of jewelry. however, it's important to read their labels carefully. Many cleaners suitable for metals may discolor or otherwise damage beads, especially stones.
4. Though gold is the only metal that does not tarnish in its pure state, it can still look soiled. To easily restore shine, it is safe to clean using warm water and a mild soap, being sure to thoroughly dry the pieces immediately after washing and follow up with a polishing cloth.
If you read my sad story from yesterday's post, you'd realize that just one of these moisture-wicking products would have saved my coins!
The higher the content of pure metal, the less likely it is to tarnish. That's because it's the alloys, such coppers, in metals that actually encourage tarnish. So, Thai silver (95 to 99 percent silver) is less prone to tarnishing than sterling silver (92.5 percent real silver) because it has a higher silver content. Here's some great ideas to hinder this oxidation:), antitarnish tissue paper and strips (we have the strips at Art and Soul), or even chalk to reduce exposure to owygen and moisture.
1. Keep jewelry in tightly sealed plastic bags with moisture-wicking products, such as silica-gel desiccant (the packets often found in shoe boxes), antitarnish tissue paper and strips, or even chalk to reduce exposure to oxygen and moisture.
2. That said, pearls should not be stored with moisture-wicking products as they tend to turn brittle and crack if kept too dry.
3. After you shine a piece of silver jewelry, rub it with a protective wax, such as Renaissance Wax Polish. Some people even swear by car or floor wax. Whichever you use, allow the wax to dry, then buff the piece with a soft cloth. The wax should deter tarnish, though it needs to be reapplied now and again.
I had a wonderful (and vast) coin collection that was carefully packed away in zip-lock baggies, and stored in a vented basement. Living only 30 minutes from the beach, there was a lot of moisture, foggy days, etc. Many years later, I found these same zip-lock bags filled only with green dust. Yes ... the collection was completely gone (probably due to trapped moisture in the bags, or bags that didn't stay sealed). To spare you this pain, here's an article I tweaked (this is actually one of three articles on basic jewelry care):
1. It is best not to store your jewelry in a jumble in one drawer or box. Metal findings and certain beads (i.e. the coating on some crystals) can become scratched easily.
2. In order to prevent necklaces from becoming tangled, always be sure the clasps are securely closed before storing.
3. To keep jewelry protected and looking its best, invest in jewelry boxes, pouches, or bags that keep each individual piece separate.
4. Store heavy beaded jewelry, especially necklaces, flat so that the stringing materials does not stretch or break.
5. Keep your jewelry where is it free of dust and protected from sudden changes in temperature, light, humidity (ding! ding! ding!). Dust is abrasive to jewelry, especially to sensitive materials such as pearls. Extreme temperatures and harsh sunlight sustained for long periods of time can cause your jewelry to deteriorate.