Jewelry can be timeless or temporary. They are often imbued with sentimentality. It could be an heirloom, for instance – a brooch passed down from a grandparent or a parent’s engagement ring. A partner might have purchased a special bracelet to commemorate an anniversary. One the other hand, they may just be fashion accessories. You had a dress that you’d specifically picked out for this date but it was quite an odd shade of blue which you struggled to match a necklace from your existing collection to, so you went out to a mall and searched for a piece you know you’d maybe only wear with this dress (once or twice then, but let’s not kid ourselves as we all have those outfits). Either way, they have a different value to clothes. Jewelry has its own space and rituals of preservation. There’s a delicacy and a preciousness. As such, here are a few ways for how you can maintain your jewelry’s condition.
Why Does It Tarnish?
Jewelry is often associated with precious metals. It’s true: they are made from gold and silver, for instance. However, they are mixed with other metals too because pure gold and pure silver cannot be handled as it’s too soft. It is the other metals – silver, copper, and zinc – which add the strength so it can be worn as jewelry, handled as coins, and stacked as ingots, that cause it to become dull. This is, then, a natural trajectory for jewelry: it will become dull. There’s no avoiding it.
Each piece will have a different composition of gold and silver, as you well know – hence the karat system for determining how much gold is present. Due to this, each will tarnish to its own degree because of the various metals. Each cause will react differently to whichever metal is present in the jewelry.
What causes the dullness and change in color? It’s body oils, water, salt, makeup – most external substances. This is why it’s hard to avoid tarnishing.
Before we discuss the wear which can be helped, we should quickly discuss damage of the irreparable kind. Insurance kicks in for such scary situations as theft, fire damage, water damage, vandalism, falling-object damage – all such perils will be named in your policy. Now, this policy will likely be your homeowners insurance or renters insurance. These will cover your jewelry should they be damaged just fine. The majority of claims are made after theft, which is a standard part of most insurance of this kind. There is, though, a maximum for which your insurance will pay out. This may only go up to just over $1000, which could be more than enough, in which case you have nothing to worry about (those silver bangles and fashion-piece hoop earring might be purely functional to you). However, should you have more expensive jewelry, extra coverage is available. You will be able to find a policy which will have a high maximum limit, adjusted to what you need. However, this extra coverage will be reflected in your jewelry insurance cost.
How to Preserve and Clean your Jewelry
Firstly, keeping them dry and clean is a good first step. You may want to look fancy when you’re poolside, with your engagement sitting proud, but this isn’t best practice. Equally, taking it off before washing your hands or the dishes, if you want to be extra vigilant, is ideal. The water will oxidise the copper which might be in your ring or bracelet, leaving green marks on your skin.
Similarly, putting on jewelry after you’ve sprayed perfume, after you’ve put on lotion, after you’ve changed your outfit, after you’ve put hair spray on, after you’ve applied makeup will ensure that harsh chemicals won’t be applied directly onto the jewelry. As the saying goes, jewelry completes a look and it should be put on last so you can fully take in your appearance and because it helps your jewelry’s condition.
On the topic of harsh chemicals, using some cleaners will negatively affect your jewelry. As illogical as it sounds that cleaners can be bad, you should be wary.
Wearing it where is appropriate is also best. As alluded to above, pools, spas, and beaches are probably not a good idea. Neither is donning little pearls or having a necklace on while you exercise because your sweat will be full of salt which corrodes silver. Taking anything you have on or in when you’re heading to bed is also advised and it can quite easily be damaged or even hurt you.