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Studio secrets: How to easily stop your jewelry from tarnishing

October 20, 2015 1 Comment

One of the most frequent questions I get about metal jewelry is will this tarnish? The short answer is usually yes...but there's a lot more to the story than a quick yes or no.

When using the word tarnish, I've come to realize most people mean will this turn my neck/finger/wrist/ears black or green or some other funky colour? In regards to our jewelry the answer is a resounding NO. This usually only happens with low-quality nickel-laden metals that often have a price tag to match their lifespan.

What does happen with some metals is oxidization. It's a naturally occurring reaction between the oxygen in the air and the metal. With sterling silver, it slowly causes a light yellowish layer to build up on your ring or bracelet or earrings. With time and more oxidization this layer gets darker and darker. With raw brass the same process results in a darkening of the metal, creating a patina. The good news is that you can stop it yourself at home, for free. Here's how.

STERLING SILVER

It's my experience that the more you wear your silver jewelry, the less it tarnishes. It often comes in direct contact with oils from your skin or in the case of rings is washed with soap and water frequently, both of which help reduce the oxidization process.

If your silver does start to look dull or yellowish, there's a couple things you can do.

  • Polishing cloth: gently rub the surface of your jewelry with a soft cloth (flannel or soft cotton) to remove build-up. You can also purchase a jewelry cloth with polishing compound already in the cloth at most local jewelry shops. These work best.
  • Soak: let your jewelry soak for a few hours in a mixture of warm water and mild dish soap, then use a soft bristled toothbrush to brush off the build-up. Best for intricate pieces.
  • Store: use small ziploc bags to store your jewelry when it's not being worn. This reduces exposure to air, slowing the oxidization process.
  • Avoid: harsh chemical baths, abrasives or dips. These all pit and scratch the surface which over time creates more area for oxidization to occur and decreases shine.

RAW BRASS

Raw brass does need some care to remain shiny & bright. It's a very porous metal and tends to show contact with moisture more than other metals.

If your raw brass develops a patina that you don't like, there's a couple things you can do.

  • Polishing cloth: gently rub the surface of your jewelry with a soft cloth (flannel or soft cotton) to remove build-up. You can also purchase a jewelry cloth with polishing compound already in the cloth at most local jewelry shops.
  • Paste: make a paste with some baking powder and water. Gently rub it onto the affected piece with your fingers, then rinse off. Rub a tiny, tiny, tiny bit of oil (canola or olive oil) onto the piece with your fingers and blot off any excess with a paper towel.
  • Store: use small ziploc bags to store your jewelry when it's not being worn. This reduces exposure to air, slowing the oxidization process.
  • Avoid: harsh chemical baths, abrasives or dips. These all pit and scratch the surface which over time creates more area for oxidization to occur and decreases shine.

GOLD FILL

Gold fill requires minimal care. It has a thick layer of gold heat-bonded to a brass core. You may notice a darkening at solder joints if some brass has come through due to sanding, filing, etc. Here's what to do.

  • Polishing cloth: gently rub the solder joints with a soft cloth (flannel or soft cotton) to remove build-up. You can also purchase a jewelry cloth with polishing compound already in the cloth at most local jewelry shops.
  • Avoid: harsh chemical baths, abrasives or dips. These all pit and scratch the surface which could remove some of the gold layer over time.

FREE CLEANING

Remember that you can always bring your jewelry to us for cleaning, free of charge! Email us for details.





1 Response

Barbara
Barbara

October 21, 2015

This is great information – thanks for sharing so many helpful studio secrets :)

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