Caring for your Spirit Stone Design
Cleaning jewelry and removing tarnish can be a chore. But it doesn’t have to be! Tarnish is caused by a number of things: oxygen exposure, moisture, dust, chemicals and even human touch due to the oils and perspiration from our skin. Medications in the wearer’s system, especially certain antibiotics, can also cause jewelry to blacken or discolor.
Prevention is the best remedy. Instead of constantly cleaning jewelry, here are a few tips to keep it shiny for longer periods.
- Ziploc bags or other air tight container and a silica gel pack. Silica gel is most commonly found items you purchase (shoes, electronics). They are the small packets of beads (typically 2 x 3 cm). Their purpose is to maintain a less humid environment because they absorb moisture so well.
- I purchased an inexpensive jewelry box lined with a tarnish-free material to keep my silver in its original condition. Wrap larger items in an anti-tarnish cloth. It was worth the investment (about $30) and I’m cleaning jewelry a lot less!
- Before placing your jewelry in storage, wipe and clean with a soft cotton cloth preferably a professional jewelry polishing cloth, to remove any body oils, dirt, lotions etc. Don’t use paper towels or tissues. They contain fibers that can scratch the surface.
- Exposing the hands to salted nuts, crackers, or popcorn can cause corrosion and discolor the skin. Rings should be removed if you must expose your hands to salt. Remove all rings before using soap or detergent, and clean the rings frequently.
- Do not wear your jewelry while cleaning, swimming and taking a shower. Chemicals such as ammonia, bleach and chlorine in water could cause tarnishing.
Jewelry should be removed before working with photographic chemicals or solutions.
- Remove your jewelry often and use an absorbent powder, free of zinc oxide, on the skin areas which come into contact with your jewelry.
When all else fails and you find you must be cleaning jewelry, use these simple household products, instead of harsh chemicals.
For cleaning jewelry that is lightly tarnished, wash in warm water with phosphate free mild soap, rinse and dry thoroughly with a soft cotton cloth. Do not let them dry on their own when wet because this will increase the potential of tarnish forming. Instead, use a towel to wipe off the water and buff the metal. This removes the water as well as any residue that may remain on the surface. Take your heavily tarnished items to a jeweler for professional help.
Copper. I use a soft cloth, dip it in lemon juice and wipe the individual copper piece to remove tarnish and patina. Then, using your fingers, lightly rub the same area with baking soda to neutralize the acidity of the lemon. Rinse and dry. If working on a large piece of copper you may also combine lemon juice with a pinch of salt in a shallow bowl. Lay the copper in the solution (don’t place gemstones in the solution). In a minute or so the copper will become shiny again. Rub with baking soda, rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
Silver. Sterling silver is copper-silver alloy and is more prone to tarnish. This can turn the jewelry black and may also be rubbed off on the skin or clothing. A few people with especially moist skin may find that the sterling silver stains their skin green. This is due to the copper component of the silver alloy. When this occurs you should polish your jewelry frequently and use an absorbent powder on those moist skin areas which come into contact with your jewelry.
Gold. Gold will not develop a dull tarnished finish over time. However, cleaning jewelry made from gold is still very important as it easily accumulates dirt and grime with normal use.
Soap and Water. Soak for 15 minutes in two cups warm water and a few drops of a mild dishwashing liquid, like Joy. Gently scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush. Rinse with warm water, and dry with a soft cloth.
Toothpaste and water. Squeeze an inch of toothpaste into a bowl or your palm and mix with a tablespoon or two of water to make a light paste. As a mild abrasive, toothpaste is good for loosening up grime that’s accumulated on your favorite pieces of gold jewelry without scratching the jewelry. Using an old soft-bristled toothbrush or soft cloth, add the paste and gently scrub off grime.