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. 

We invest in the nice stuff – gold, silver, fancy gems – because we know it has more longevity than, say, the cheapie fake stuff. But that doesn’t mean you can do whatever you damn want with it and expect it to stay shiny and fresh. There are still care rules. Follow them, and your spesh jewellery and timepieces will last you for ages. Maybe even forever. Ignore them? Don’t come crying to us when your fancy stuff looks like you dug it out of a marsh pit. Here’s the 411 on keeping your special keepsakes looking schmick.

Gold is gorge, and most people have something made of the metal in their jewellery collection. But it’s also a material that needs a bit of care. 
“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.

Sterling silver is pretty durable, but it does take some cleaning maintenance to keep it looking fresh. Weirdly, the best way to maintain your silver pieces is to actually wear them.
“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.”
And take your silver jewellery off before showering or swimming – the chlorine in the water can react with silver and cause it to discolour.

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Sometimes we forget that the other parts of our jewellery can get all messed up from wear and tear, too. Like the stones in there – kinda the most important bit, tbh.
“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.