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How To Care For Your Handcrafted Jewelry


If you're anything like me your favorite pieces of jewelry may not look as pristine as when you first laid eyes on them. I get it, it's way more fun to wear them than it is to clean them. Fear not, these simple tips will get them back into tip-top shape in no time and keep your future cleaning time down to a minimum as well. Keep in mind that the cleaning methods outlined below may not be safe for all jewelry when in doubt, contact the maker for their preferred cleaning methods. 

Start With A Good Cleaning 

A simple way to spruce up your favorite piece and remove the build-up that occurs over time is to give it a gentle scrub with a new, soft toothbrush and soapy water. For pieces that have been neglected for some time, add a few drops of dish soap (I use Dawn) to a bowl of warm water and allow them to soak for 15 minutes or longer before scrubbing gently. 

Dealing With Tarnish

All sterling silver, copper, and brass jewelry will naturally tarnish over time. Not to worry, you can restore it to its original vibrant self for a few dollars and a little elbow grease. The process is slightly different depending on the finish and you should always check with the artist or manufacturer for their preferred cleaning method before attempting to clean a piece of jewelry yourself. 

Highly Polished Pieces

First and foremost, be gentle. Even a paper towel can scratch the surface of a highly polished piece. Instead, gently rub the piece with a jewelry polishing cloth to bring it back to its original shine. Polishing cloths work because they are loaded with a fine abrasive, so take care to avoid any stones or beads.

Brushed, Oxidized Pieces
Oxidized jewelry with a brushed finish (like the jewelry in the image above) is treated a bit differently because you want the oxidation, or tarnish, to remain in the recessed areas while removing it from raised surfaces. A jewelry polishing cloth can be used over the raised surface to remove the tarnish, but to maintain a matte or brushed surface I recommend using an abrasive cleaning pad (like Scotch Brite). Again, take care to avoid any stones or beads to prevent scratching them. The earring on the left below has become tarnished over time and the earring on the right has been rubbed with a Scotch Brite pad to restore the original brushed finish. 
Storing Your Jewelry
Finally, because oxidation occurs when metal is exposed to air, consider storing your pieces in the gift box they arrive in, a cloth bag or jewelry roll, or inside a jewelry box. Wrapping your jewelry in a piece of anti-tarnish paper can provide another layer of protection.
I hope that this short guide will help you keep your favorite pieces in ready to wear condition for years to come!
Thanks for reading!