Tuesday, 8 January 2013

jewellery care

I was requested by NotOnTheHighStreet.com as a jewellery expert to write a blog about jewellery care.  So, after a day of research and writing, once I had completed my advise for NOTHS, I thought I ought to share it with you all as well.  Come to think of it, I might also update my website too.

Silver is one of the softest metals which is why other metals are added for strength making it 925, containing 7.5% Copper by weight.
Sterling silver tarnishes which are surface oxides with the exposure to air and the environment as well as perfumes, lotions & perspiration. It is susceptible to damage by chlorine and salt so avoid wearing silver jewellery when using chlorine or bleach, or while in a chlorinated pools and hot tubs.
Often Rhodium coating may reduce tarnishing initially however this plating may reduce the shine of the silver underneath and will eventually wear off.
925 is especially prone to tarnish in hot, humid weather.
Store sterling silver and fine silver away from exposure to air/environment. A zip/lock plastic bag is a very practical and cheap way to do this. This will be especially useful for silver jewellery, as it will cut down on tarnish significantly.
Acid free tissue is an excellent way to store jewellery.
Do not store jewellery next to heating vents, windowsills or in the bathroom. Damp and hot condition will cause the jewellery to tarnish badly.
If you have very sensitive skin which is irritated by silver jewellery it's often resulting from the small amount of Nickel added and not the silver itself.
You can of course purchase hypo-allergenic jewellery and inhibitors especially in earrings which thread through the skin.
999 Silver's purest form is called Fine Silver and is particular tone to tarnishing.
In recent years we have seen the advent of 999 in many new designers creations.
This is a recycled bi-product from the car industry and starts as fine dust bound with clay so that when it is fired at high temperatures, the clay burns off leaving the Fine Silver.
Fine Silver is far more softer than Sterling as it doesn't have any added metals to strengthen it and is therefore prone to dents and scratches.
When fine silver is used for personalisation, it as been stamped into the clay and this indent will last forever.

All silver products are prone to wear and tear so careful handling is recommended particularly when storing or transporting pieces.  So if your taking your jewellery on holiday, always separate pieces in a silk roll to avoid scratching and handle necklaces with extra care to avoid kinking and knotting.

Special care should also be taken with fine gemstone cuts which are delicate and may shatter if dropped.

Chemicals found in everyday products such as hair spray, perfume, make-up, moisturizers and creams etc can accelerate tarnishing and will often coat jewellery and therefore affect it's luster.

Due to the fact that some gemstones like Topaz and Chalcedony have been heat treated to improve their colours, direct sunlight will cause fading and therefore de-value the gemstone.
Keep jewellery from getting wet and never wear whilst cleaning or washing up as it will damage the jewellery.
If you have charms that have been thread onto coloured cord, simple chemicals used when washing up, bathing or swimming in pools will strip the colour.

To clean silver, use a good quality silver cloth by rolling the jewellery between fingers.  For tougher tarnish spots, you can use a small amount of silver cleaning liquid with the silver cloth, making sure not to press too hard as small particles in the cloth may scratch the surface or even take away the pattern after years of cleaning.
You can also clean jewellery with warm soapy water and a really soft toothbrush. Then rinse thoroughly & dry well.
The best way to clean nooks and crannies of jewellery such as diamond pave set rings is with a sonic cleaner with specialised cleaning fluid, however a soft toothbrush will also work with a small amount of washing up liquid.  You can purchase sonic cleaners online or take your jewellery into you high street jeweller.

Gold vermeil is sterling silver micro-plated with yellow gold of various grades and is an affordable way of purchasing gold jewellery.  However, whilst it will not tarnish like silver, it will get dirty with wear and chemicals, lotions, perfumes and moist conditions will corrode it.  So its particularly important to take the above measures which will increase it's longevity.
When purchasing platinum jewellery after ware it will darken in colour.

When purchasing wired jewellery it's always worth checking it has been made correctly and doesn't snag your clothes.
Make-up, body creams and hair lacquer will transfer onto jewellery especially pearls, shells and gemstones during wear but you can clean their precious surfaces by lightly rubbing with a light oil such as linseed.
It's always recommended to only put your jewellery on once all you make-up/hair and body scent ritual is complete.
Jewellery will snag tights and fine materials such as shiffon, so it's always better waiting to the last minute before putting jewellery on.
Remove jewellery when sleeping, exercising, cleaning, gardening or any other rough or physical work.
Melinda Mulcahy

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