Eco-friendly Ways to Clean and Care for Your Jewellery
The jewellery we wear is made from the most gorgeous metals and stones, crafted into items of wearable beauty that we can use to express our personal style.
However, though beautiful, jewellery is also susceptible to wear, tear, marks, progressive dullness and – of course – tarnishing. With silver jewellery being its most common victim, tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that discolours and dulls the surface of certain metals, and is one of the most common reasons for jewellery looking as though it’s had better days.
Aside from this, light scratches, scuffs, and untangle-able chains are just some of the ailments that our jewellery sustains over the years, sometimes rendering them unwearable.
However, the key to making our jewellery last the years – so we’re able to get the most out of the precious belongings we have – is to care for them properly. Through proper storage, and regular gentle cleaning & polishing, this can easily be achieved. So here are some of our general care tips.
How to store your jewellery
When you take your jewellery off, it’s a good idea to quickly skim over your silver or gold jewellery with an anti-tarnishing cloth. This will prevent tarnishing by removing moisture, dirt and oil from the surface prior to its safe keeping.
Most of us store several items of jewellery – such as necklaces or bracelets – in the same box, and if you do, make sure to fasten them before storing to reduce the risk of tangling. The best course of action however, is to keep your jewellery separately in the boxes or pouches they came in. This is particularly true in the case of jewellery made from different metals, as gold should always be kept separately, as it’s a comparatively soft metal that’s easily scratched by harder metals such as silver.
Eco-friendly ways to clean your jewellery
For most items of jewellery, all that’s needed to clean them is warm water and baby soap. Baby or natural soaps don’t contain ammonia or phosphates, so they are a sensible eco-friendly alternative, which is perfect for cleaning jewellery.
With this mixture, gently buff the jewellery with a soft cloth, before rinsing and making sure to dry your pieces properly. Moisture is the number one villain when it comes to the tarnishing process of metals such as silver and pewter, so keeping your jewellery as dry as possible is essential.
For jewellery that needs a more thorough clean, use a teaspoon of baking soda dissolved into hot water. Place the item in the bowl and let it bubble and fizz for approximately 15 minutes and then check it. For any little bits of grime that this has not been able to remove, then use a very soft toothbrush to gently work into those stubborn areas.
Rinse your jewellery thoroughly with fresh cold water, and then pat dry with a clean soft cloth.
One other natural or eco-friendly polishing remedy you can try, is to mix together 100ml of white vinegar with 50g of organic plain flour. Apply this to the item -as you would with any other solution - using a soft cloth, and when thoroughly polished rinse off the mixture with fresh water and then dry.
How to polish your jewellery
With some metals, it’s better to polish rather than wash your jewellery. This is certainly the case for silver jewellery, as the metal is very prone to tarnishing and water can cause oxidisation.
Oxidisation is the process that causes tarnishing, and since there is an abundance of oxygen in water, regular gentle polishing is a much better idea.
The way you should polish your jewellery is specific to each kind of metal – a silver or gold polish shouldn’t be used on pewter jewellery, for example, as the polish can alter the colour and finish of items of pewter jewellery.
There are a number of products on the market that are designed specifically for silver or gold. These include polishing cloths - which are always worth having to hand - and cleaning agents that are easy to apply gently and buff with a clean soft cloth.
Polishing Pewter Jewellery
Pewter jewellery will rarely need to be polished as, unlike silver, this hardy metal doesn’t tarnish in the same way.
However, if you notice your pewter jewellery is starting to look a little dull, use a pewter-specific polish and again, apply gently with a soft cloth. Do not use a gold or silver polish as this can damage the finish and colour of your pewter jewellery.
Everyday tips for keeping your jewellery in great condition
Lifestyle in general plays a huge part in how long your jewellery lasts and stays looking as it did when we first owned it. As mentioned before, simple steps like keeping jewellery dry and away from any harsh chemicals - these are everywhere, especially in beauty products - can make a huge difference and save you precious time in terms of upkeep. So finally, here are some steps that you can follow on a daily basis.
- Take your jewellery off before you go to bed to avoid damaging it when rolling around in your sleep.
- Make sure your jewellery stays well away from chemicals – so, remember to take off your jewellery before cleaning, or dyeing your hair, and make sure that, if you wear lotion or perfume, that this is applied before you put your jewelleryon. Also, avoid leaving your jewellery on surfaces that you’ve recently cleaned with a chemical based cleaning agent.
- Only use a very soft brush to clean your jewellery to avoid leaving scratches or marks.
- Take your jewellery off before doing vigorous activity, like exercise.
- Don’t leave gemstone jewellery in direct sunlight. Bright sun light can actually make some precious stones become dull over time.
Featured product Orchid Necklace in yellow.