Monday, March 22, 2010

How to keep your jewelry out of the repair shop

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No one ever buys a piece of jewelry with the intent of destroying it, but sometimes, that's exactly what happens. Unfortunately, I have had to repair jewelry pieces due to neglect or because ladies thought they were actually doing the right thing.

So I realize I don't fix broken-down cars, but a broken or ruined piece of jewelry is kind of like the same feeling (at least to me). You were wanting to wear it only to feel disappointment that not only are you not going to be able to put on that piece of handmade jewelry, but it's going to have to be repaired as well.

This is just a short list of what I usually see and what you can do to avoid mishaps.

1. Stones are ruined after cleaning. I have seen this mostly from people either putting their items into "dip" cleaners or using them in an ultrasonic cleaner machine. Soft and/or porous stones such as pearls, coral, and malachite should be treated with extra care. When in doubt, ALWAYS ask the person you bought your piece of jewelry from.

I only recommend the following cleaning methods:
  • A solution of mild soap (such as liquid Ivory) and warm water. Soak the piece for 10 to 15 minutes, rinse. Wipe dry with a soft cloth. This is good for getting grease and fingerprints off a piece.
  • Sunshine polishing cloths. These are what I use on my own jewelry. You can very carefully use the cloth to go over pieces while avoiding the stones. I love these things so much I sell them when I do shows.
  • Haggerty's silversmith polish sprayed onto a soft cloth. Use these like the Sunshine polishing cloths above. You can usually find this silver cleaning product at some of the large, mass retailers. Don't spray the polish directly onto the piece since it may get into recessions that you won't be able to get it out of.
2. Holes or "pitting" of the metal. I usually see this after someone wears the jewelry while exposing the jewelry to bleach. Most everyone thinks to take their jewelry off before using household cleaners, but some women forget about wearing their jewelry in pools and spas. Chlorine is used to keep those things sanitary. It's that same chlorine in the bleach that pits the metal. Unfortunately, there is no fix for this.

3. Severe oxidation or tarnishing of a jewelry. This happens when someone doesn't store the piece properly. Mostly, I see this when women take their jewelry off and think "I'll put it away later" only to forget, then find it in a couple of months looking almost black. In a high humidity environment (like Florida) tarnish can happen very quickly! Jewelry can turn dark enough to where the polishing and cleaning methods above don't even work. I do have an industrial grade silver sterling tarnish cleaner that I use in my studio for such cases. It does a better job of removing tarnish than other methods, but isn't completely able to get tarnish out of deep recessions or up next to stones. Read my article here on how to keep your sterling silver jewelry free of tarnish.

These are the biggest ones I see. Are there other problems you have questions about? Let me know below! I'll do my best to get you an answer.

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