Unless you're in a state of complete denial, you know that the holidays are here. Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, New Years, and a host of others...too numerous to name. And with the holidays come gift-giving. And with gift-giving, you'll generally find at least some jewelry in there.
With beautiful things come responsibility. So this month, I'm offering a lesson on how to take care of your jewelry. And whether you buy from me or someone else, the rules will still be the same.
First off, let's talk about the different materials that I use. There is always, always, always metal wire: sterling silver, argentium (tarnish-resistant) silver, gold-filled, rose gold-filled, copper, brass, and steel.
Sterling Silver comes in different levels of purity (I generally use 0.925 for wire), and the higher the purity silver (0.95), the more quickly it will tarnish. Also known as oxidation, tarnishing is caused when oxygen or sulfur comes in contact with sterling silver, and it gives it a darker color. Sometimes, sterling silver is intentionally oxidized to create depth and certain details on a piece of jewelry.
Argentium Sterling Silver is tarnish-resistant. It actually contains more silver than sterling silver (0.935), but replaces some of the copper with germanium, which makes it resistant to tarnishing.
Some ways to care for your Sterling Silver and/or Argentium Sterling Silver:
Gold-filled and Rose-gold filled wire is another of my go-to materials, and I'm sure you see it often in my posts. While not as susceptible to tarnishing, jewelry using gold-filled wire still can get grungy with fingerprints and dirt from day-to-day wear.
To care for your gold-filled jewelry (rose gold, white gold, yellow gold), a soft polishing cloth or a warm-soapy soak followed by a good drying will keep them looking beautiful.
Copper and brass wire are both quite prone to tarnish, but react a little differently than silver when it comes time to cleaning. Copper turns a green-blue when it tarnishes, while brass turns blacker.
With copper and brass, we have DIY (more natural) methods of cleaning, and there are ready-made, more chemical. Looking for super shiny, like new metal? Go with the lemon juice, ketchup, or vinegar methods. If you'd like a more gentle, keep-a-little-tarnish-for-the-character, try the toothpaste method. You can find the resources for both natural and ready-made here.
Well, that covers the wire. Phew! Now, on to the gemstones, pearls, and fossils.
Let's start easy, with Fossils. As the name implies, these are fossilized shells (ammonite and ammolite), and resins (amber).
Fossilized Shells, like ammonite and ammolite are so pretty, but more delicate than you'd think. Ammonite used to be the house of an animal (think nautilus), so you'll observe the chambers and swirls of the shell. Ammolite is the irridescent lining of that shell. Due to the delicate process of removing it, ammolite is significantly more expensive than ammonite. To care for these beautiful stones, a soft polishing cloth, and our good old friend, warm soapy water.
Amber is pretty much the only resin I work with. It is highly prone to scratching, so if you want to keep the transparent quality, warm soapy water for the stone and a polishing cloth for the metal.
Pearls. While pearls vary in color, size and texture, they all need to be cared for in much the same way. Some things to note when caring for them.
Gemstones. Here we go! Gemstones vary in hardness, which also means they can handle different degrees of care. Since they are so varied in what each can handle, here is a chart that will give you some guidance.
I'd be willing to bet most of you have at least one of these things in your jewelry collections, and now you know how to care for them to keep them sparkling and comment-worthy.
And if reading the instructions make you less intimidated about caring for these beautiful materials, now's the time of year to give your wish list for a piece of custom jewelry to your loved ones.
Until next month,