CARING FOR YOUR UNIQUE ARTISAN JEWELRY: KEEP IT SIMPLE
If you've made the investment in artisan jewelry, you already know the value of jewelry crafted by an artist's hand. When you treat your pieces well, you will be the first owner of beautiful heirloom jewelry that will not only last for your lifetime but for other lucky lifetimes as well.
But just because it is handmade, doesn't mean you don't have to treat your unique jewelry with care!
Tip #1 - Baking Soda is for Baking, not for Caring for Jewelry !
And toothpaste is for brushing your teeth, not for caring for artisan rings and other delicate baubles.
There's a lot of ideas about using something 'slightly' abrasive to clean your jewelry. I don't recommend any of them for home use.
As a metalsmith, I use abrasives of different grits to get to a particular surface finish on the metals, but once you have your final piece of artisan jewelry, now it's time to treat it with kid gloves. Especially if you have a soft metal or stone that could be scratched or lose it's luster if you're inadvertently too rough.
A gentle liquid soap in warm water and soft cloth are your best bet to restore luster and shine to your piece without compromising it's surface. A quick dip, a gentle rub, and a complete drying off will do the trick in most cases. If you need to get into crevices, sub in a soft bristle brush for the cloth in those areas.
If you want a quick polish without heading to the sink, I do recommend the commercial yellow jewelry polishing cloths readily available. These cloths contain a special coating that will remove tarnish and give you a nice bright shine without damaging your stone.
Tip #2 - Humidity not only frizzes your hair, it tarnishes your jewelry too!
Store your jewelry in a safe and DRY place if you want to keep tarnish at bay. This is especially important if you live in climates that have high humidity, damp weather, or salty air Metals, like many of us, need dry conditions to keep us looking our best.
Small cloth/flannel jewelry bags are a great way to keep your jewelry tarnish free. If you are in a damp climate, you may want to opt for a high quality jewelry box that has tarnish proof fabric or one that you add in a packet of desiccant crystals.
Silver especially needs to be kept absolutely dry to stay tarnish free.
"Gosh, I really love this humidity....said no one ever" ~anonymous~
Tip #3 - Wear It!
Precious metals love to be worn...a lot. Just don't wear them in the shower, pool, washing dishes, cooking, getting a manicure, while your wearing lotions, perfumes, spraying the bugs in the yard.
You get the idea.
If your jewelry does have exposure to air that may be damp or to water itself, give it a quick drying off with your gentle cloth and store it as discussed.
And remember, moisture on your body that comes in contact with your jewelry is tarnish waiting to happen. At the end of the day, give your jewelry a quick go with the soft cloth when you take it off at night (please take it off while you sleep) and it will be happy.
Tip #4 - Artisan Jewelry Loves its Alone Time
Whether you have a softer stone in a ring or you're wearing a softer metal (silver, I see you!), you'll want to store your pieces on their own so they don't get any dings or scratches from bumping into another piece of jewelry.
Note: If you don't know if you have a 'soft' stone, google 'Mohs scale' and find your gemstone. Any stone with.a number lower than 7 is fairly soft. The lower you go, the softer.
Tip #5 - There's always an Exception
As you have read, it's just a few basic considerations to keep your artisan jewelry well cared for.
With that said, there are certain exceptions and considerations for individual pieces of jewelry. -Certain stones, like pearls, need their own care instructions.
-If your jewelry had an intentional blacking of the metal as part of the design and creation process through the use of a patina, rubbing your piece, even with a jewelry cloth, can remove or diminish that patina.
-If you have any type of patina, plating, keum boo fusion, or if your artisan jewelry is gold vermeil, you will not want to rub in a way that could cause it to wear down. (I'll have another post on the care of gold vermeil). If you aren't sure, ask the artist who made your piece.
Love Me For Who I Become
Most of all, it's important to remember that jewelry ages like a fine wine, or a woman. It changes and matures with time. It will probably acquire a few dings along the way. It will most likely develop a patina.
If the structural integrity of the piece is intact, try to enjoy the changes that come from being worn and loved.