jewelry care, medallions, coin jewelry

Jewelry Care – Keep on shining

At Gallery Byzantium, we think of our handcrafted jewelry as future heirlooms – both for their timeless style and elegance as well as for the fact that our jewelry is made to last beyond a lifetime.  But, how do you help your treasured pieces look their best and retain their luster and sparkle for future generations?

Regular care and cleaning is imperative to not only keep your jewelry looking its best but also to help preserve it for the future.  Jewelry care doesn’t need to be expensive or time-consuming – a few good habits will keep your jewelry looking magnificent for generations to come! Here are a few quick jewelry care tips to help keep your jewelry looking as good as new.

Storing your jewelry

To protect your jewelry, you should store it in a soft pouch or a velvet-lined jewelry box.  Each Gallery Byzantium piece arrives in a small flannel pouch which is perfect for storing your new cross or bracelet.  There are also many jewelry boxes available that are lined with an anti-tarnish velvet – perfect for sterling silver pieces!

As RealSimple writes, “[y]our jewelry should be the last thing you put on in the morning and the first thing you take off at night.” Lotions, perfumes, cosmetics, and other products we use contain chemicals which react to precious metals, causing accelerated tarnish.  They can also react negatively to softer gemstones, like pearls, causing them to dry out and crack.

To plate or not to plate?

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Have a collection of silver or white gold jewelry? These pieces often require extra care due to rhodium plating.  ‘This process of plating silver with a layer of white metal is called “flashing.”’  While we do not plate our silver jewelry, many sterling silver pieces are rhodium plated to protect the piece from tarnish.  With time, however, this plating wears away.  For this reason, rhodium plated pieces should never be cleaned with an abrasive solution or any ammonia-based products.

White gold, on the other hand, is almost always rhodium plated.  You see, there really isn’t such a thing as gold in a pure white/silver tone – white gold is simply a very pale yellow gold that has been rhodium plated (and even that pale gold is still “regular” yellow gold mixed with silver-toned alloys).   You’ll notice that antique or frequently-worn white gold pieces will yellow over time; this is the evidence of the plating wearing away.

Luckily, rhodium plating is a fairly inexpensive procedure.  Depending on how often you wear white gold or plated sterling jewelry, you should have a jeweler re-plate your pieces every 2-5 years.

Cleaning your jewelry

In terms of cleaning, we covered a simple (and inexpensive!) at-home cleaning remedy for your sterling silver jewelry in an earlier blog (click here to view the blog).  This method is also applicable to your gold pieces.  Many sources recommend toothpaste, but we err on the side of caution and advise against it.  Many toothpastes contain a mild abrasive that will scratch softer metals (like sterling silver), leaving marks.

For a quick clean, we do recommend warm water and a soft cloth to remove dirt, oils, sweat, lotions, etc.. Cleaning your pieces in a small bowl is probably your best bet as it eliminates any chances of your valuables traveling down the drain or getting nicked on a porcelain or stainless steel sink.

As always, polishing cloths, creams, and solutions are great ways to keep your jewelry looking good but will, if used too often, end up thinning out your pieces.  Like the toothpaste, these methods utilize abrasives which scrub away a thin layer of the metal, showing a gleaming, clean surface underneath.  Excessive cleaning using these materials will eventually thin out the metals, making your pieces susceptible to bends, breaks, or distortion.

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