So you have a new piece of jewelry and you want to be extra sure that you know how to care for and clean it over the years. Awesome! As the maker, I really appreciate you taking the time to care for the piece you've given home to. I've pretty much written a manifesto here (thus the title), but if you'd like to skim, just look for the bold and you'll be set!
The Basics (and some more!):
-Remove your jewelry before Swimming, Washing, or Sleeping
I know that some people like to wear their jewels to the shower, or when washing hands, but I really do not recommend it. Especially for pieces that have a stone set into them. There are a few reasons! First being that the chemicals in some soaps or body washes and shampoos can really interact with the finish of the silver or even the stone if it's one that is soft and porous (Turquoise and Opal can eventually be ruined actually). The other main reason is if the piece has a transparent or semitransparent gem, eventually a stray water molecule can seep back into the setting (even the tightest ones!) and this can lead to discoloration behind the stone. Unfortunately, once that occurs it cannot be fixed.
-Avoid getting perfumes, oils, lotions or chemicals on your jewels
Similarly to the above reasons, these things can really effect the metal and the natural stones. Chemical reactions between the metal/stones and oils, chemicals or perfume can lead to weird colorations of the metal and alter the look of softer stones. I can usually remedy the metal, but if oils or chemicals seep into a stone there's really nothing that can undo that. So when primping yourself with those lovely creams and perfumes or cleaning around the house or work, set the jewels aside until after all that is done :) Something I do if I'm running out the door and spritzing that last minute mist of perfume is lift up my necklace(s) and spray at a downward angle, setting the jewels back down once the mist is settled!
-Remove your jewelry before being super active
If you're heading to the gym, to the great outdoors for some running, gardening or anything where you know there will be a lot of movement especially if you're more likely to be knocking your hands into things, its really best to leave your jewels at home. Sterling silver is a pretty tough metal but it can certainly be scratched or dented and stones can be scratched, chipped or cracked if whacked hard enough! The stones you really have to be extra careful with are the more delicate ones. Opal, Turquoise, even Labradorite and Moonstone can all crack under enough pressure or scratch if scraped against something harder than them. Opals and turquoise are the most delicate of stones. My mother lost a beloved opal set into a ring somewhere between work and a cab ride home because the stone cracked and left the setting! (It's one of the reasons I seldom make opal rings).
If your piece has prongs or details that stick out from the piece, they can catch on things and bend or distort, so also be extra cautious with prong set stones or pieces that have delicate details. Eventually the bending and pressure will weaken the metal and make it brittle. Treat those jewels like queens and they will return the favor for a life time!
Storing away the Jewels:
A jewel box on your dresser is a magical place, but if stored away for a longer period of time, silver can tarnish and get dingy looking when exposed to the open air. So if you put your jewels in an airtight baggie and then in the jewel box, they will be protected and you don't have to really worry about tarnishing. Many of my pieces are oxidized (which is the intentional darkening of the metal) to showcase the texture and detail, but all of them have been polished back so that the high points of the piece have that lovely luster in contrast. So to avoid the overall dingy look of tarnished jewels, an airtight bag is pretty convenient!
Cleaning Your Jewelry:
Most of the time, if you need to freshen up your jewelry the easiest and safest way to go about it is the "less is more" method.
If you wear your jewels regularly, generally speaking, they actually want to stay shiny as the metal rubs against your skin, so consider the motto "wearing is caring" to be your mantra (unless you're swimming, sleeping, washing up or kick boxing...that is).
But then if you're like me and are constantly wearing jewels, you may also find yourself enjoying a taco on a Tuesday and next thing you know, some sauce has dribbled onto your hand and thus on to that ring you love. Or even somehow got on your necklace (we don't ask why). Start with a damp cloth ;cotton or something soft, and gently rub the piece clean. Once done, dry it off as much as possible with a dry soft cloth and let it air dry the rest of the way. If the piece doesn't have much tarnish or just got a lil' something on it, this should do the trick.
If that sauce was a touch oily or you happened to leave a necklace or ring out by the bathroom sink for a while and it got a bit tarnished, you can use a touch of super mild clear soap in the process. You really don't need much, just a dab on the cap of a soap bottle is generally enough to take care of things! Then you can rinse the cloth and wipe down the piece, dry it, and so on. If the cloth isn't getting into the nooks and crannies, a super soft toothbrush can be used (but be gentile and seriously, the softer the toothbrush the better!)
If you'd really like to bring that shine on, you can use a silver jewelry polishing cloth (Sunshine polishing cloths are often what I use, but any jewelry polishing cloth or "rouge" cloth for jewelry works!) Whether you are doing the damp cloth or polishing cloth method for a necklace, you can pinch gently and pull the chain through to clean that part of a necklace.
Please Note: I do not recommend using chemical cleaners or cleansers where you dip in the jewels or things like that. Especially if you're piece has a stone in it, these types of jewelry cleaning chemicals really aren't meant for handcrafted silver jewelry with semi-precious gems. It's just too harsh!
As the person who made it with love, I want to thank you for wearing it with love!
Of course, if you have any questions in general or specific to your piece, write me a message
and I'm happy to advise you!