How to Care for Your Handmade Jewelry

Store your jewelry in a dry & clean place

Exposure to chemicals can damage or discolor precious metals – gold, silver and platinum – and may harm some colored gems. Even everyday substances like hairspray, lotion, perfume & cosmetics can contain chemicals that will permanently damage the surface of your pearls and other delicate or porous gems like turquoise.

Jewelry should be removed before swimming in a chlorinated pool or before using household cleaners. Many of these cleaners contain ammonia, which is too harsh for delicate gems. Chlorine bleach, another common household solvent, can pit or damage gold alloys.

Try to avoid extreme light & heat for your jewelry

Just as the sun’s harmful rays can damage our skin, light and heat can affect a colored gemstone’s durability and color. Over time, and in excess, they can also fade or damage some gemstones, such as amethyst & topaz. Pearls and other delicate materials will bleach under extreme exposure to light.

Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also fracture some gems. Heat can remove the natural moisture these gems need to keep their beauty. Pearls, for instance, can dry out, crack and discolor. Opals can turn white or brown, develop tiny cracks, and might lose their play-of-color.

Proper jewelry storage is often overlooked

Jewelry should never be tossed into a drawer or on top of a dresser − that’s asking for scratches and damaged gems.

Most jewelry pieces come in a box or pouch, which is a perfect place to keep them. Sterling silver can be kept in an anti-tarnish bag or cloth.
Pearls and opals draw moisture from the air, so storing your opal or pearl jewelry in a dry area, such as a safe deposit box, can sometimes do more harm than good.

When traveling, protect your jewelry pieces from scratches or other impact damage by padding it in a separate box or bag.

The safest cleaning method is also the easiest

Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft brush. A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint-free cloth can also be used. Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a glass of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones – or even an entire piece of jewelry - if you rinse directly in the sink.

Soft gems, such as pearls, on the other hand, can easily scratch. Use a new, clean makeup brush and warm, soapy water to softly clean them. Lay a strand of pearls on a towel to dry. The wet silk thread can stretch − and attract dirt − so don’t touch your strand until it is completely dry.

Use ultrasonic cleaners with caution! 

This type of cleaning is best left to jewelry professionals who know about different gem materials and understand when and how to use the ultrasonic cleaner safely.

What’s more, the vibration generated by the machine can chip or shake gems loose.

Ultrasonic cleaners should not be used to clean:
• Organic gem materials -- pearls, coral or ivory
• Gems that are susceptible to heat and temperature changes -- tanzanite, feldspar (sunstone and moonstone), fluorite, iolite, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal, topaz, turquoise, zircon and others