EarthWhorls Helpful Hints for Caring for your Handmade Jewelry

by Susan A. Katz February 14, 2017

Yesterday, I poked around in a box that’s been sitting on a shelf in my house forever. Really, forever! And what I found inside had my head spinning. It was two, very old, very tarnished but, very beautiful Squash Blossom necklaces. Somewhere, in my memory, I seem to recall my mother wearing them but honestly, it was spooky finding them like that after having not seen them in at least forty or fifty years. I have no idea how they got there but, not one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I have been spending the day trying to clean them up. Still, have a long way to go…

It got me to thinking about caring for your jewelry so that it never gets into that condition in the first place. And I thought I’d share some hints with you today. Also, if you have questions about jewelry care, leave them at the bottom of this blog on my site, at and I’ll do my best to come up with some helpful answers.

  1. While many jewelry cleaners claim to clean all precious metals and stones, it is always best to use a cleaner that is specifically formulated to clean a particular material. Silver cleaner for silver and gold cleaner for gold is a good bet to give you the best results.
  2. While it’s true that jewelry picks up oils from the body and that does add to the stones and silver becoming duller or tarnished, just leaving your jewelry sitting around on a shelf or in a drawer, adds as well to the deterioration of the luster of stones and silver. So, always store your jewelry in a closed environment (box or jewelry bag) and give it a quick rub down with a jewelry cloth (available at most jewelry stores) before or even better, after wear. Another hint, many stores who sell silver findings and beads carry small, specialized paper squares that you can add to your jewelry box to discourage the tarnishing of silver.
  3. It’s important to remember that silver is a very “soft” metal. It scratches easily so when caring for it, be sure to be gentle! A good hint for cleaning silver is to find a very soft makeup brush. If it won’t hurt your skin, it probably won’t hurt silver. Dip it in a silver cleaner and gently, in a single direction (not circular or back and forth) apply the cleaner to the area that has dulled or is tarnished. After cleaning with the solvent, use a gentle dish washing liquid and apply to the jewelry and rinse and dry thoroughly.
  4. Most gemstones respond beautifully to the same thing that keeps your skin beautiful, a very gentle soap or facial cleaner. I like to fill my sink up about half way and add a drop or two of Dove liquid and then, submerge the piece of jewelry and swirl the water and soap around. Then gently rub the stones with your fingertips. Make sure to completely rinse off any soap residue and then dry with a soft cloth.
  5. Always store your necklaces and bracelets flat. Do not hang from hooks or, those lovely jewelry “trees” (put your earrings and rings there) that look so great but, can cause the wire or string your piece has been strung with to stretch and, in some cases, even break. Leave your jewelry unclasped as this too helps to avoid damaging the stringing material.

I hope this was helpful. Next week, we’ll talk about pearls. For me, it’s back to Momma’s necklaces with the hope that a little more “gentle” elbow grease will do the trick! I promise, when they’re pristine again, I’ll have Jason (my incredible tech guy and photographer) take some photos and I’ll post them in a future blog and on Facebook!

- Susan

Susan A. Katz
Susan A. Katz


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