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To help retard tarnish on sterling silver, wrap the piece in jeweler's tissue paper and place it inside a plastic zip lock bag and seal.
When caring for your jewelry, never use anything but 100% cotton as a polishing cloth since paper, polyester, and coarse fabrics often contain wood fibers or synthetics. These materials may impart fine scratches in the metal, especially on sterling silver.
Silver is a very soft metal and can easily be marred by a fingernail or wadded piece of fabric pushed roughly against the metal surface so use one of the following methods to clean heavier soils and tarnish: Fingerprints, light grease or dirt can be removed by using a small amount of mild liquid soap to a half cup of warm water, soak 2-3 minutes. Rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry completely before storing in an air tight plastic bag.
DO NOT SOAK FOR EXTENDED PERIODS DO NOT SOAK IF THERE ARE STONES SUCH AS AMBER, LAPIS, LAZULI, OR TURQUOISE. Extended soaking in any solution may harm the polish on the stone.
NEVER USE CHLORINE BLEACH to clean jewelry
To remove excess tarnish, polish with a 100% cotton cloth and a good nonabrasive metal cleaner. Be sure to remove any remnants of the cleaner from gemstones and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Never use toothpaste!
Always remove your rings and fine jewelry before using any product that contains bleach! This includes swimming pools and bathing in hot tubs as chlorine products are added to prevent bacteria growth. Bleach can cause metal alloys to breakdown leaving the metal irreparable damaged.
If you normally use specially purchased jewelry’s cloths to keep your jewelry clean and shiny, be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use will now leave scrapes and pits in the piece you are trying to clean and polish.
Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. You will find countless websites that recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. Although the abrasives in toothpaste are great for your teeth, they can damage the surface of the metal requiring the skill of a professional to butt and refinish. Toothpaste will also scuff the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones resulting in the fine polish which was produced by the skilled lapidary to be permanently marred.
Ultrasonic cleaners are great for cleaning some jewelry but they can damage many gemstones and the chemicals are not recommended for pearls and many other fine stones. Repeated use can also loosen the settings and you could lose your precious gems.
Other Common Chemicals and Solutions to Avoid
Denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone and ammonia can cause harm. These chemicals can dull or even pit the softer gemstones. Petroleum based products can actually “melt” amber if allowed to remain on the stone and they can do significant damage to pearls.
Gems requiring special care:
Opals require special care. Never use an ultrasonic, never use chemicals and avoid heat. Don’t put your opal ring on the window sill when washing your hands or the dishes as strong sunlight can dry out the water in opals which could cause hazing or color change.
Pearls: Protect from scratches; perfumes and household chemicals which can wear away the nacre of cause color change.
Soft Stones like lapis malachite, turquoise, amber and opals can easily be scratched by pin stems and the edges of other jewelry. Protect pieces with these gemstones by wrapping them in jeweler’s tissue and storing separately.