Organizing Your Jewelry, Part II: How to Properly Store and Care for Your Jewelry
In Organizing Your Jewelry, Part I: Storage Solutions for Your Baubles and Jewels, we discussed how to organize your jewelry based on how often you wear it. This time, we’ll dig even deeper into the topic of jewelry storage, offering tips on how to organize and preserve your special handmade accessories.
GENERAL STORAGE TIPS
- It’s best not to store your jewelry in a jumble in one drawer or box. Metal findings and certain beads can become scratched easily.
- In order to prevent necklaces from becoming tangled, always be sure the clasps are securely closed before storing.
- To keep jewelry protected and looking its best, invest in jewelry boxes, pouches, or bags that keep each individual piece separate.
- Store heavy beaded jewelry, especially necklaces, flat so that the stringing material does not stretch or break.
- Keep your jewelry where it is free of dust and protected from sudden changes in temperature, light, and humidity. Dust is abrasive to jewelry, especially to sensitive materials such as pearls.
Extreme temperatures and harsh sunlight sustained for long periods of time can cause your jewelry to deteriorate.
The higher the content of pure metal, the less likely it is to tarnish. That’s because it’s the alloys, such as copper, in metals that actually encourage tarnish. So, Thai silver (95 to 99 percent real silver) is less prone to tarnishing than sterling silver (92.5 percent real silver) because it has a higher silver content. Heed the following advice to hinder oxidation:
• Keep jewelry in tightly sealed plastic bags with moisture-wicking products, such as silica-gel desiccant (the packets often found in shoe boxes), antitarnish tissue paper and strips, or even chalk to reduce exposure to oxygen and moisture.
• That said, pearls should not be stored with moisture-wicking products as they tend to turn brittle and crack if kept too dry.
• After you shine a piece of silver jewelry, rub it with a protective wax, such as Renaissance Wax Polish. Some people even swear by car, floor, or even bowling-alley wax. Whichever you use, allow the wax to dry, then buff the piece with a soft cloth. The wax should deter tarnish, though it needs to be reapplied now and again.
Jewelry will inevitably become dirty and, if susceptible, tarnished. To spruce up soiled necklaces, bracelets, and earrings and bring them back to their original brilliance, consider the following suggestions:
• Clean crystal and glass jewelry to keep them sparkling bright by spraying a small amount of window cleaner onto a clean cotton cloth and gently wiping the crystals.
As you do this, be sure not to get the stringing material wet. For gemstones and other beads, simply wipe with a soft, clean cloth.
• To clean tarnished silver jewelry, rub it gently with a soft, nonabrasive polishing cloth. Cloths made especially for this purpose can be purchased in bead stores, jewelry stores, hardware stores, and more. When a polishing cloth becomes dirty, buy a new one. Do not try to wash and reuse. Better yet, have a spare on hand! Even consider having one you use just for jewelry you take on your travels.
• You can find commercial cleaners for different kinds of jewelry. However, it’s important to read their labels carefully. Many cleaners suitable for metals may discolor or otherwise damage beads, especially stones.
• Though gold is the only metal that does not tarnish in its pure state, it can still look soiled. To easily restore shine, it is safe to clean gold using warm water and a mild soap, being sure to thoroughly dry the pieces immediately after washing and follow up with a polishing cloth.
Good Clean Advice
The quality-control team at Monet—one of the most recognized fashion-jewelry brands in the world—tells us this: “Care for your costume jewelry as you would any fine jewelry in your collection. Simply rinse in warm water and pat dry with a soft cloth. Avoid substances like chlorine, salt water, and commercial jewelry cleaners as they can damage the finish of your jewelry. We also recommend that you put your jewelry on after you apply makeup, perfume, and hair spray.”
This story originally appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Jewelry Stringing magazine.
For more tips on organization and protecting your jewelry, visit the Interweave Store.