It has been a while since my last posting as it’s been a busy time preparing collections for stockists and designing some bespoke designs for customers wanting that truly unique piece. I love this level of activity but it doesn’t give much time for reflection. To take some time out I have ensconced myself in the glorious So Sofitel hotel in the south of Mauritius, to pause, and consider what has come to light over the past few weeks. Whilst speaking to customers, one question has been common: ‘How do I take care of my jewellery?’ Not only have I been heartened by the fact people want to know how (and therefore intend) to care for their pieces, but it enables me to share with you something that is very close to my heart – what I know and what I have learned about jewellery care, and why we should know how to do it properly.
Sharing this information is exciting for me because, let’s face it, it is very easy to not care for our jewellery. Like clothes fashion, jewellery fashion is becoming so ‘fast’ that we often wear our pieces a few times before the metal fades or the ‘gems’ become dull; we don’t really look after them at all, why would we? Just like that t-shirt that has only been made to last a few months, which we wear and wash to death and then discard, we don’t expect things to last so we just don’t make the effort to care for them.
But what about if you buy something of quality, where someone has handcrafted a piece using high end materials, does your attitude change? It seems it does and if you take care of your jewellery, it will last much longer than a month or two. In fact, I still have jewellery that I have had for years simply because I treat it with care. Yes, jewellery can be pretty tough, but even the toughest have their limits.
So how to look after your beautiful gems and shiny metals…..?
Remove before bedtime
One of the worst things for your jewellery (and for your night time comfort) is wearing it to bed. Tossing and turning, and getting tangled in your sheets are a recipe for disaster. Pieces could snap, buckle and get knotted, so please remove before you settle in between the sheets.
Take care when wet
The impact of water on jewellery varies depending on the type of water and the materials used in the jewellery. We’ve all seen pictures of celebs looking glamourous on the beach, combining bikinis with layers of jewellery. It is an easy look to emulate but there will be a price to pay over time. If you’re wearing your favourite pieces to the beach just take note of the following.
If you fancy a dip in the sea, be sure to remove your jewellery beforehand. Yes, precious metals such as sterling silver are pretty tough but salt water is corrosive and can weaken soldered joins in your pieces. If you get caught out, be sure to wash it in water and a mild detergent, and dry thoroughly. Even sun cream can lead to discolouration so it is safe to say that it is best to remove everything before you venture into the sun. Just buy an extra flattering bikini to ensure you look great.
With jewellery made from much more than just precious metals, it is also good to know how these other materials react with water. Leather and suede are increasingly seen in high-end jewellery designs but they also need protection. Exposure to salt water can lead to cracking and peeling, which will disintegrate over time. Be safe, remove!
Chlorine and other chemicals
Like me, how many times have you started your housework wearing your favourite rings or bracelets? How many times have you plunged our hands into water containing common household cleaning fluids such as bleach, soaking your jewellery as a result? It is so easy to do, but we must stop! Cleaning chemicals are harsh (even if they smell pleasant). Like salt water, they corrode metals, but their impact on gemstones is also significant. Yes gemstones are, in general quite hardy, but they are not indestructible. Chemicals such as bleach and chlorine can discolour and even chip your gemstones, so again, please remove before undertaking domestic chores.
Jewellery is an adornment, to be cared for. Just like you wouldn’t wear your favourite outfit in a situation that would test its limits (sequinned dress for hiking anyone?), you shouldn’t put similar strain on your jewellery. Looked after well, there is no reason your quality designs won’t last you a very long time.
Your skin feels a bit dry and you reach for your moisturiser, yes, you’ve guessed it, take off your jewellery first. Moisturiser gets everywhere – in clasp fittings, under the prong settings holding that sparkly diamond in place, and it clogs and discolours. Be kind to your jewellery and remove it.
What else to do?
Even if we avoid these damaging substances, there are other little things we can do just to generally maintain our jewellery’s sparkle and shine……and the range of care options varies depending on how dirty your jewellery is. Jut like your clothes, your jewellery needs to be cleaned once in a while.
On the whole, all you need to do to keep your pieces clean and shiny is to wash gently in warm soapy water with a very soft bristle brush. This will remove any dirt and sweat that have accumulated on metals and gems. Be sure to dry thoroughly.
To be quite specific, I use a lot of Turquoise in my designs. It is a porous gemstone so if you want to clean it, rub a damp cloth over its surface. Don’t submerge it in water and make sure to dry thoroughly. This is also a good approach to treating all other gems.
Simply by just existing, jewellery, in particular sterling silver pieces, will tarnish, it is unavoidable. The metal reacts with oxygen and sulphur dioxide in the air to form a layer of dull tarnish over the surface. Don’t worry, it doesn’t damage the metal, it just doesn’t look that appealing. To remove tarnish, I couldn’t be without my jeweller’s cloth (available to buy from most jewellers). Simple to use, you just rub it over the surface of the metal and it will look as good as new. To reach difficult nooks and crannies you can soak your jewellery in a jewellery cleaning solution, but note that this should not be attempted if the piece contains gemstones, pearls or other non-precious metal materials, they will just be damaged. If you want to make your own jewellery cleaning cloth, I have found this advice to be particularly helpful.
Another tip to minimise tarnishing is to store your jewellery in zip lock bags. Not very attractive when you want to display pieces neatly in your jewellery box, but take it form me, this really does limit tarnishing by a significant amount.
After reading this, you may think ‘gosh, jewellery is fragile, why buy it?’ However you can say that about anything you buy – clothes, bags, shoes, they all have their limits and need to be cared for. Jewellery, when worn in ordinary daily life situations, avoiding abrasive substances and periodically cleaned, will last a long time. I think we’ve become so used to buying things regularly and throwing them out after a season (if that) that we don’t always value and care for what we have bought. We don’t want or need things to last so we don’t respect them. But, if like me, you value what you buy, these easy steps will ensure that you can enjoy your jewellery for a very long time.
If you have any further questions, please feel free to get in touch for a chat.
See you soon,