The care instructions below are good for all types of jewelry. The cleaning instructions however, are only intended here to be used for sterling silver jewelry. Many of my wire jewelry pieces are created with oxidized copper, they are polished to enhance the intricate wire patterns, then a patina sealer is applied to preserve the antique finish. Using a jewelry cleaner may damage the patina.
The best care you can give your handmade jewelry is to simply NOT wear it when swimming or bathing or during activities that cause perspiration. First things first... the gemstones are NATURAL and therefore can be damaged by chemical reactions. This is why the swimming pool can be so damaging. Chlorine, salt water, perspiration, perfumes... all can cause damage, change of color, staining etc. That's NOT to say, don't wear your jewels to whatever and where ever you want! Just take a moment to realize that a minute or two of care can save your precious pretties from damage and allow you to enjoy them for a long long time. ;)
* Put your perfume on BEFORE your jewelry. Misting your gemstones and precious metals can damage them over the long run. Besides, if your honey is 'sniffing' behind your ears... it's YOU they want to smell and not the gemstones. ;)
* Store your jewelry in a clean, dry place away from direct sun exposure. Putting your fave earrings on the car dashboard or near a window might cause those pretty gemstones to turn a different color. Putting your jewels in a 'wet or damp' place can cause damage to the metals and stones also.
* After wearing your pretty things out, take them off, wipe them with a clean cloth and store them properly. Either hanging if the wire is 'dangling' like in necklaces or bracelets or in a jewelry drawer laid out. Tangled metal wire on stones can scratch them. Not to mention damage your hand made collectible.
* Here's a fun one... WEAR your silver jewelry! Silver tarnishes and there's not much to do about that, but something you CAN do is enjoy it. Wearing them often will slowly coat the silver with the oils from your skin which will help slow the oxidation process. Wipe your silver with a clean dry cloth and store properly when not wearing. This won't prevent tarnishing totally but will help. Some cleaning recommendations are below.
* Remove your jewelry before you go to bed. Waking up with morning hair is one thing, but can you imagine waking up with knotted gemstone and wire hair! Or heaven forbid... you find the design of your fave earrings imprinted on the side of your cheek! Seriously... wearing your handmade creations to bed can damage them. Take a moment to remove them and at the least, put them on the nightstand.
Keeping your copper jewelry in an airtight bag when you're not wearing them, helps to slow the natural oxidation process.
Cleaning your STERLING SILVER handmade collectible jewelry:
I learned much of my wire wrapping techniques from
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon dish detergent (powered) Arm and Hammer works great!
- 1 cup water
- 1 piece aluminum foil
- Heat water in the microwave for 1 or 2 minutes.
- Cut a piece of aluminum foil that roughly covers the bottom of a small bowl (like a cereal bowl).
- Pour hot water into bowl. Place salt, soda, and dish washing liquid into bowl. Place jewelry on top of foil and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse jewelry in cool water and dry jewelry completely with soft cloth. Discard solution after use and make a new batch next time.
- According to wire-sculpture.com, "this works well for gold-filled, brass, German (nickel) silver, and sterling silver. I have even cleaned jewelry with freshwater pearls, shell cameos and mother of pearl with no problem.".
- If there is a lot of tarnish or dirt on the piece, you can also use an old, soft toothbrush to give it a soft brushing. Rinse the piece and soak for an additional few minutes.
If you don't want to go through all that and would rather purchase a cleaning product, then I can recommend Jewel Brite (Google it, everyone sells it)... perhaps I should sometime too??? I'm off topic. lol. Click the jar there and it'll take you to a search. Otherwise, their site is here:
I've used this personally and it's perfectly safe for most jewelry. From the container:
"Safe for pearls, opals, soft stones, costume jewelry and antique jewelry. Contains no ammonia, acid or alcohol. Biodegradable."
It's not that expensive and worth it if you don't like to fiddle around. This cleans them up really really nicely, stones and metals. Leaves a great shine on the jewelry and I've never had anything 'damaged' by it. Certainly follow the instructions and when in doubt, Google up your stones and make sure that the cleaning method is appropriate.