Gems 'n Wire jewelry is designed to last. With a little bit of care and diligence, your pieces will last a long enough to pass down to your heirs. In general, wipe lotion, body oil and everyday grime off of your jewelry after each wear using a soft cloth. For a more thorough cleaning, soak you jewelry in warm sudsy water, using mild dishwashing liquid and dry thoroughly before storing away.
A number of our jewelry pieces contains gemstones in the form of beads and cabochons, with a few faceted gems thrown in. While durable, gemstones do require care in cleaning and handling.
Beads and Cabochons
Even beads and cabochons can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions or cleavage planes that weaken the crystal structure. I had a strand of jasper beads that I dropped and one of the beads broke right across the middle! I was shocked. The stone was two-toned and it broke right where the color changed.
To be on the safe side, clean your bead and cabochon jewelry with warm sudsy water, using mild liquid dishwashing detergent. I don't recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner as the vibration could harm the stones.
Some of our pieces contain organic gems like pearls, coral and amber. These gems are both soft and porous and should only be cleaned with a moist cloth. Care should be taken with the chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics and perfume as they can, over time, damage your organic gemstones. Pearls are particularly vulnerable.
Caring for Your Wire Jewelry
I love working with metal wire. The finished product does require some extra care, however. A number of pieces in the Gems ‘n Wire collection are created from .925 sterling silver wire. That .925 indicates the purity of the silver; 92.5% of the metal is pure silver, which means that 7.5% is something else – usually copper. And that’s where the trouble starts. Copper reacts to air by slowly oxidizing. In silver, the oxidation presents in the form of tarnish.
We also have a number of pieces in the warm beauty of bronze. Bronze metal is an alloy consisting of copper and usually, tin. And again, the copper oxidizes, forming in bronze, a green patina (think statue of liberty or the lions in front of Chicago’s Art Institute).
So, how do you keep your metal jewelry clean? To start, wear your beautiful wire jewelry! The natural oils from the skin help minimize the tarnishing of metal. The more often a piece is worn, the less likely it is to tarnish. If you have seen the lion sculptures in front of Chicago’s Art Institute, you probably noticed that their tails did not show much of the green patina. That is because visitors to the museum often rub the lion's tails and the oils from their hands keep the patina to a minimum.
When you are not wearing your pieces, store them in a tarnish resistant jewelry box or an air-tight plastic bag (except pieces containing pearls or opals). Our pieces ship with anti-tarnish strips to help retard the tarnishing process. After each wearing, clean the piece with a soft cloth or a jewelry cloth. From time to time, clean your metal pieces with mild, liquid dishwashing detergent. If there is a build-up of lotion and grime, a soft toothbrush may be used. Be sure to let the jewelry dry completely before storing.
If your sterling silver piece gets a heavy tarnish build-up, a tarnish remover can be used. Follow the manufacturers’ directions. If there is a gemstone attached, be very, very careful not to get any of the cleaner on the stone, as the cleaner could damage it.
In general, cleaning your bronze jewelry is the same as the silver. Use a soft cloth or jewelry cloth to wipe it after each wear. Every now and then, clean it with a mild dishwashing detergent and rinse thoroughly. Dry thoroughly with a soft cloth before storing in an air tight, plastic bag. Don't let your bronze jewelry air dry as that interaction with the air is why bronze patinas in the first place. Even with that diligence, however, bronze still has the tendency to patina. Some people like the patina and want to maintain that organic look. If you're not one of them, don't fret; you can still maintain that warm, golden bronze color.
Cleaning the patina from your bronze jewelry starts by washing it with warm water to remove any dirt, and drying the piece with a soft cloth. In a small bowl, put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda. Pour in a little lemon juice, and mix it with the baking soda until you make a paste. Rub the paste onto your bronze jewelry and keep rubbing until the item is clean. You can use a toothbrush or a cloth for this step. Then leave the item with the paste on for about half an hour before rinsing the jewelry and drying it with a cloth.
If the patina is stubborn, repeat the entire process until the patina goes away. If the piece does not contain a gemstone or leather, you can also try soaking the piece in some vinegar for about an hour before scrubbing it with a toothbrush.
For those of you who like the organic nature of patina and want to keep it, there is still a way to keep it clean and polished. Using a dry cloth, gently wipe the dirt off the item. Clean the hard-to-reach spots with a soft brush. Before doing the next next step, make sure the piece is completely dry. Apply a thin layer of paste wax on the surface of the piece (you can use a clean paintbrush). After covering the item with wax, let it dry, and then buff your jewelry with a soft cloth.
Copper is the tarnishing metal in sterling silver and bronze. The Gems 'n Wire collection has very few pieces created in copper because, while so beautiful, it tarnishes very quickly. Some copper jewelry is coated to keep the tarnish at bay. Much of it is not however.
Cleaning your copper jewelry is very similar to cleaning your bronze jewelry. Cleaning the patina from your copper jewelry starts by washing it with warm water to remove any dirt, and drying the piece with a soft cloth. In a small bowl, put 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda. Pour a little lemon juice, and mix it with the baking soda until you make a paste. Rub the paste onto your copper jewelry and keep rubbing until the item is clean. You can use a toothbrush or a cloth for this step. Then leave the item with the paste on for about half an hour before rinsing the jewelry and drying it with a cloth.
If the patina is stubborn, repeat the entire process until the tarnish goes away. If the piece does not contain a gemstone or leather, you can use one of the commercial copper cleaners. They can be harsh, so use them carefully.
Storing Your Jewelry
Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don't scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.
Keeping your Gems 'n Wire jewelry clean and shiny takes a little bit of extra care and is well worth the effort. If you have any questions regarding caring for your jewelry, feel free to send an email with your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.