Many of you may be wondering how you can keep your jewelry looking great for a long time. Here are some tips for caring for a wide range of jewelry. The first step in caring for your jewelry begins with knowing what materials that the piece is made of. Any piece of body jewelry that will be going through a piercing can be cleaned safely with antibacterial soap and warm water. You may be tempted to clean body jewelry with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide but you should avoid them at all costs as they can damage, discolor, scratch or even crack the materials of your jewelry. You should never let acrylic (or other plastic-based) jewelry come into contact with alcohol as it will certainly crack and discolor the materials. You should avoid scratching any jewelry that will go through a piercing because bacteria will grow and build up in the scratches and can cause a serious infection in your piercing.
Most belly rings have a barbell that is made from 316L Stainless Steel which will not tarnish. However, the dangles on many belly rings are made from alloys of several different metals which may tarnish when they come in contact with the air and oils from your skin. For any faux silver jewelry made from metal alloys, you can remove tarnish with toothpaste. This includes necklaces, rings, bracelets and earrings as well as other body jewelry. If your jewelry becomes tarnished, put a small amount of any kind of toothpaste in your hands and scrub gently over the surfaces of the piece and then rinse in warm water and the tarnish should wash away. If you are cleaning dangles on body jewelry, wash the whole piece with antibacterial soap when you are done, before replacing your jewelry into your piercing to avoid infection and irritation. Once you have removed the tarnish, cleaned and dried your jewelry, you can place the items into a plastic bag before storing them in your drawers or jewelry boxes to prevent future tarnish.
For real silver jewelry, which scratches very easily, you will want to purchase special silver polish and a soft cotton cloth. Avoid using a circular motion while cleaning your pieces as this can lead to scratches. If there is a lot of dark tarnish in deep crevices you can use a very soft baby toothbrush or a special silver brush to clean these pieces. Always rinse thoroughly and wrap your jewelry in a dry cloth or place each item in a plastic bag before storing. The most important thing you can do for silver (and faux silver) jewelry is to keep it from being exposed to air but also away from any abrasive chemicals such as bleach, ammonia, acetone, alcohol or turpentine and this includes nail polish and removers, cleaning products, makeup and hair products. Make sure you remove your jewelry before styling your hair or showering as the chemicals in your hair and skin products can cause build-up, tarnish and other damage to your jewelry.
For plain gold jewelry, you can use a gentle soap and water for light soil and build-up or for heavier build-up, try club soda and a soft bristle brush. However, for gold jewelry that has gemstones, like a wedding or engagement ring, you should try to avoid submerging the piece in water. To clean these pieces, apply a small amount of dish soap to a damp soft cloth and gently wipe the jewelry and then “rinse” with another damp soft cloth. Always put jewelry upside down to dry so that no water can seep in the crevices under the gemstones.
How you wear your jewelry can have as much of an effect on the longevity as how you clean and store it. Use common sense when choosing which accessories to wear. For instance, if you are going to be playing sports or being very active, avoid wearing any jewelry with dangles or parts that can snag or are very thin or fragile. If you are working in the garden, leave your rings inside so that they don’t come in contact with dirt, fertilizers or other lawn chemicals. Even if you are wearing gloves, your rings can get scratched and tarnished. Try not to apply perfumes and lotions or hair products after you put on your jewelry. If you know you will be wearing a special necklace, either skip the perfume or try to apply it to another area of your body so that it won’t come in contact with the metals.
Follow these tips and you will be able to keep all of your jewelry looking shiny and new for a long time, even your cherished inexpensive costume jewelry.