No one plans to ruin their nice 21st bracelet, or their super fancy gold watch. You just look down one day and that baby is tarnished as all hell and has weird green stuff in between the links. “How?” you ask. It’s not like you were throwing it against the wall or swirling it around an algae-filled lake. In fact, you even remembered to take it off when you were washing the dishes.
“Personally I love the way that gold wears with age and if you take precautions to not mishandle your piece, it will last you a lifetime,” says Sarah Gittoes, Creative Director for Sarah & Sebastian. “Avoid creams, lotions and perfumes and store your pieces in a dry, cool place away from excess moisture, such as a high-quality jewellery case with a soft inner surface.”
Clean your gold pieces once a month, using a cleaning product designed specifically to clean gold as opposed to any old metal cleaning product. Be careful too with cold water – it causes your fingers to shrink slightly, meaning rings can easily slip off and fall to a sad, underwater death.
“I find that sterling silver requires a little more TLC in comparison to gold as it tarnishes over time; especially when stored,” explains Sarah.
Sometimes though, chemicals on our bod can react with sterling silver and it can darken. This doesn’t mean it’s ruined, though – Sarah’s advice? Just dip it in a silver cleaning solution, or wipe it with a silver polishing cloth. Another point that goes for silver and gold pieces – don’t store them in a heap. This just encourages tarnishing and scratches.
“Necklaces, bracelets and anklets should be stored either hanging or securely separated,”says Sarah. “Not only are chains difficult to untangle, but this process can cause stress to the chain links – a prime reason for breaking.”
“Sudden temperature changes can cause some stones to crack or discolour, while other porous gems can absorb water which causes premature chipping and cracking,” says Sarah.
Another factor is dirt. Because stones are held within a setting on your jewellery, if dirt builds up underneath them it can cause the stone to push against the setting, eventually wearing the metal away and causing it to break. Sarah suggests using a soft toothbrush to clean your jewellery, clearing any dirt out from under the stone. It’s actually a good idea to get complicated pieces professionally cleaned – loads of jewellers offer the service, including Sarah & Sebastian, who do cleaning services out of their Sydney showroom.