Caring for Pearl Jewellery
To clean your pearls it is recommended to use a mild, non-detergent soap, lukewarm water and soft cloth (preferably 100% cotton). Dip the cloth in the water and gently rub the pearl in a circular motion. Do not use excessive pressure. Lie flat on a towel and allow to air dry. Never soak your pearls as pearl is an absorbent material and soaking will cause them to swell and crack.
Clean your pearls regularly and avoid excessive contact with perfume, dirt and skin oil. Remember to always put your pearls on last, after you have applied makeup and perfume.
Never store pearls in an airtight container or plastic bags as this can cause their quality to deteriorate; some plastics may even emit chemicals that can harm the pearls.
Protect from temperature extremes and chemicals, such as alcohol and hairspray, as these can erode the surface. Never leave your pearls in a hot area such as a sunlit windowsill or on a radiator.
Wear your pearls often as they thrive on your skin, the natural oils from your skin help to keep them in top condition.
Avoid soaking in chlorinated water or any liquid.
If you have hand-strung pearls then have them restrung every few years as the silk string usually has a life of no more than 8 years.
Storing pearls for long periods can dry them out and fracture the surface. Wear them regularly, pearls love being worn.
Store your pearls flat, as opposed to hanging them, thus avoiding stretching the thread prematurely.
Silver in its pure form is very soft, too soft to be used for jewellery and other items, so it is mixed with other metals to make it more durable. A popular silver mixture, called an alloy, is known as sterling silver.
Jewellery sold in Ireland cannot be marked or described as silver, solid silver, sterling silver, sterling, or using the abbreviation Ster. unless it contains at least 92.5 % pure silver. The minimum silver content can also be stated as 925 parts per thousand of pure silver, so you might see the figures 925 or 92.5 used to mark silver content. Copper is the most common metal used to round out the 7.5 percent alloy balance in sterling silver. It adds hardness to pure silver, but brings with it a tendency to tarnish–a darkening that occurs when sterling silver reacts with gases in the air or with other substances that it comes in contact with.
Storing Silver Jewellery
Ideally you should store your sterling silver jewellery in air tight tarnish prevention cloths or bags. The treated cloth slows down the tarnishing process and keeps the jewellery from rubbing against harder jewellery that can scratch it. Try to keep your sterling silver jewellery in a cool, dry place. You can also place it in an air tight bag with a piece of chalk. Chalk is highly absorbent and will absorb any moisture in the air around your silver.
Cleaning Your Silver Jewellery
Clean sterling silver with a phosphate free detergent. A low abrasive cleaner is a good choice for removing light tarnish, or you can use a silver polishing cloth if you don’t like mess. A good cloth should last for several years. Some people use toothpaste to clean their sterling silver, but most silver experts caution against it because they feel toothpaste is too abrasive and leaves dulling scratches.
Sterling Silver Patina
Sterling silver jewellery that is worn continually often develops a lovely patina, a kind of glow combined with darkened areas. If you like the look, leave it alone. If you prefer a bright and shiny look for your sterling silver, use polish to restore the jewellery to its original appearance.
Caring for your Gemstones
Clean opaque stones, such as opals, lapis lazuli, jade, turquoise and malachite, by wiping them with a moist lint free cloth after each wearing. Avoid exposing these stones to soap and water as they are absorbent.
Clean organic gemstones like pearls, coral and amber by wiping them with a soft cloth after each wearing to remove dust and body oils from the gemstones. Protect them from exposure to hairspray, perfume or cosmetics, as the chemicals in these products can damage organic gemstones over time.
Separate gemstones from touching each other to prevent scratching. This can be done by placing them in separate sections within your jewellery box, using fabric pouches, or wrapping them in separate pieces of soft cloth.
Light Sensitive Stones
Many stones will bleach in strong light if left exposed for long periods of time. They will lose their bright colour and eventually become drab and unattractive. The stones which are vulnerable to sunlight include Amethyst, Ametrine, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Beryl, Celestite, Chrysoprase, Citrine, Kunzite, Rose and Smoky Quartz, Fluorite and Topaz.
Do not use Chemical Cleaners
Many stones will be adversely affected by harsh chemical cleaners, which will discolour them and some may eventually break apart. The stones which are particularly vulnerable include Amber, Aquamarine, Coral, Emerald, Jade, Lapis, Malachite, Opal, Pearls, Shell and Turquoise. It is never advisable to use chemicals on any stone.
Caring for Copper and Brass Jewellery
Surprisingly, copper and brass are very simple to care for. While they do tarnish more quickly than silver, they can be restored to their original shine very easily. Methods for cleaning and shining copper and brass jewellery are outlined below:
Ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce or Vinegar. As unlikely as it sounds, the acetic acid in these substances will shine up copper and brass very nicely. Apply them carefully with a toothbrush or soft cloth, leave on for a couple of minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Avoid rinsing if your jewellery also contains pearls or water absorbent stones such as opals, lapis lazuli, jade, turquoise and malachite.
Disclaimer: Whilst the information given above is provided in good faith, we do not recommend you do anything unless you are personally certain that no harm will come to your jewellery as a result of cleaning. We do not take any responsibility for damage which ensues from your actions.