Posted: Emma White
One of the plusses of buying good quality handmade jewellery is that it lasts.
If it is cared for it will last forever. But of course everything changes over time and precious metal is no exception! Silver and gold tarnish, they get dirty, they react with strong chemicals and even sometimes change colour dramatically. Neither silver nor gold are indestructible by any means! After all if precious metal wasn’t changeable how could we fashion it into jewellery in the first place? But knowing exactly how to keep it looking good can be tricky.
Here are my top tips to keep your handmade jewellery looking fabulous:
Keep sharp impacts to a minimum:
Some stones are delicate. All those pretty lines and patterns you sometimes see in semi precious gemstones, those marks that we seek out because they are so beautiful…those are cracks! Those are flaws and beautiful as they are if you wallop it hard enough on a wall or bang it off a steel bar in the gym at the right (wrong) angle you are likely to break your stone.
Remove your jewellery for sports
Precious metal will scratch if it is rubbed against a surface that is or has parts that are harder than it is, silver is a fairly soft metal and if you have a shiny shiny surface on a ring and go rock climbing with it on, I promise you it will look a bit different when you reach the top that it did when you were at the bottom. Matt, scratched and hammered finishes are hardier because those finishes are made up of deliberate dents and scratches already so new scratches and dents ‘blend in’ a bit, but I’d still recommend taking it off or wearing gloves when you are scaling mountains.
Jewellery isn’t for fish
Water and jewellery are not great friends. Enamel can soak out of lettering in personalised jewellery. The water loosens the bond with the metal and before you know it, you look down and half your colour has gone. Now I don’t mean you can’t wash your hands! I mean take off your jewellery to have a bath or a shower, or to wash the dishes. Your skin will thank you for it too, because water or dampness trapped under your rings can stop your hands from drying out properly and that can cause skin irritation. Pop a little dish beside your sink for your rings or get your marigolds on.
Watch out for chemicals in pools and hot tubs
You know that smell that hits you when you get to the pool and turns your eyes red? The chlorine that effects your nose and eye eyes, also effects your jewellery. It can turn it totally black. It can dull the shine on pearls, it can even weaken the solder joins. Hot tubs are even worse! More chemicals, more reactions, more problems to sort out later. Remember your £1 and rent a locker, no one minds if you don’t wear your bling in the pool (not even me!)
Put your jewellery on LAST
So you’ve been to the gym, you’ve climbed a cliff, you’ve had a shower and soaked in the hot tub, now you are off out for the night and surely it’s time to get that jewellery on now? NOT QUITE YET!
Precious metal is reactive with chemicals, not just the ones in swimming pools and hot tubs! There are chemicals in our creams and deodorants, our make up, and most of all in our perfume. Perfume is acidic and the chemicals used can cause a chemical reaction in the metal and change it’s colour! Silver turns fairly easily and gold less so, but it’s really not a good idea to spray your jewellery with chemicals. So get ready, get dressed, spray your hairspray and your perfume and finally when it’s settled in, complete your look with your favourite jewellery.
Sometimes, when people talk to me about their jewellery they say ‘I never take it off’, I know they mean they love it, it means a lot to them, but actually I really don’t recommend that at all.
Please PLEASE take off your jewellery, take it off every night, don’t sleep in it. Chains can get kinked or caught in your hair, earrings can work lose and fall out of your ears and well, your skin needs time to breathe! Your jewellery needs a wee break from your skin to keep it looking fabulous too. Invest in a good jewellery storage system (there’s another blog right there) and take it off. The added benefit of this is that tomorrow is a new day and you will naturally consider what you put on, mixing up your look and choosing something that suits your outfit and your day ahead. Jewellery is an extension of your wardrobe, a part of your personality, let it shine!
Stay tuned for…
Part 2 - how to clean your jewellery.
Part 3 - how to store your jewellery.