When it comes to tackling throwaway culture, bringing high quality, long lasting items into your life is only half the battle. Looking after those items properly is just as important, and that bit is entirely up to you. It seems like on average people are becoming less and less aware of basic ways to properly repair and maintain their possessions, but we believe that the key to a less throwaway world - and to a happier, healthier relationship with “stuff” - is to promote a culture of caring, both about the environment and the things we own.
This article is all about jewelry. Whilst fine jewelry can be a wonderful investment to pass down to your grandchildren, it will only make it that far if you take basic steps to care and maintain it in the meantime. Below is a roundup of some basic ways to care for fine jewelry, from cleaning and storing to avoiding loss (because nobody wants to have to break it to grandma that you lost her mother’s necklace.)
Avoid Chemicals like the Plague
Life is too short to remove jewelry every time you clean the house or get ready to go out, but try to be hyper aware of where you’re spraying the lotions and potions you use in daily life. Any chemical product will reduce the surface appearance of precious metals over time, so aim sprays and perfumes away from necklaces, take rings off for hand or body lotion application, and invest in some decent gloves for cleaning (something your skin will thank you for as well.)
Chlorine is one of the biggest jewelry killers, so try not to take your jewels swimming with you. Pop them inside a small, zipped purse compartment to avoid the obligatory panic attack later on.
Keep Cleaning Simple
As stated above your jewels do not like harsh chemicals, but they do like gentle love and care. The best way to clean fine jewelry is to mix a few drops of mild soap, like our favourite organic and super gentle Dr Bronner’s castile soap, with warm water in a bowl. The bowl is crucial - cleaning delicate jewelry anywhere near a plug hole is just begging for trouble.
Leave your pieces to soak for five to ten minutes to loosen any dirt clogging up the holes, and then use a soft cloth to wipe the surfaces. For getting into all the cracks and crevices a soft bristled toothbrush does the job admirably. Finally, gently buff the surfaces with a dry cloth to improve the appearance of any dull or tarnished looking pieces. This process can be done every few weeks, but taking your jewelry to be professionally cleaned about once a year will ensure it stays in best condition for as long as possible.
Take Steps to Avoid Loss, Now
Beating yourself up too much once something is lost is pointless, but you’ll feel much better if you know you did all you could to prevent it. If a ring feels loose, get it resized immediately. If a clasp feels weak, look into getting it replaced before the damage is done. For earrings, we’ve recently fallen in love with Chrysmela patented earring backs which carefully lock your earrings in place and prevent them sliding off if one gets caught on your jumper.
Tossing and turning all night with jewelry still on increases your chances of loss or damage caused by snagging, so make it part of your evening ritual to take your precious pieces off and put them back on in the morning. This also means you can deal with all perfumes, lotions and creams while your jewelry is safely off your body.
Make sure you have a few dedicated spots for putting jewelry when it’s not on your body, because taking things off and putting them somewhere “just for a second” can lead to disaster. This could be a pretty bowl next to the nightstand, or a secure compartment in your wallet for when you’re out and about.
Don’t Let Them Rot in a Drawer
After you’ve taken as many steps as you can to avoid loss, take them out into the world and let them shine. For silver items, the best way to keep them in good condition is actually to wear them as much as possible, as the friction from handling prevents oxidation. That’s the kind of easy maintenance we like!
For pieces you do need to store, make sure they are kept as separately as possible and away from damp, direct sunlight, and extreme heat or cold. You could wrap precious items in small pieces of soft cotton to help keep them away from damaging dust and moisture particles.
Whilst arguably jewelry is more likely to get damaged the more you wear it, if you can’t wear and enjoy the beautiful items in your life what’s the point? Plus, the more you’ve worn and loved an heirloom piece, the more personal and beautiful a gift it will be when you get to pass it down one day.