Buying jewelry from an artist is a very special investment. And, keeping your investment looking its best becomes important especially, if it has sentimental value and is one of your favorites. Luckily, it is not a laborious job to clean and polish most jewelry. There are many techniques to choose from, but also some important facts to keep in mind.
Here are a few key notes:
REMOVING DIRT AND DEBRIS
Use a soft toothbrush and soapy water to remove dirt or debris from a piece that has fine or deep crevices and indentations.
Use a soft cloth or your hands with soapy water to clean buildup from smooth and flat surfaces
Rub the parts of the piece that you'd like polished with a high grade polishing cloth. The cloth that I use most in the shop is the Sunshine Polishing Cloth in yellow. This cloth and others have a special compound embedded in them that helps produce a wonderful polish on most metals used in the jewelry industry.
Search for a professional jeweler that can re-polish jewelry with heavy markings and scratches
Some pieces, specifically sterling silver and copper, have been purposefully darkened in areas. To avoid removing this coloration, very gently use a polishing cloth or soft toothbrush only on the areas that you’d like cleaned or polished. You want to be careful with areas that the artist chose to darken, as a polishing cloth may remove the color, especially if you rub the area with force.
ON WEARING, CARING, AND STORING
To keep your piece looking its best, remove before bathing or swimming, and apply perfumes, hairsprays or other chemicals before putting your piece on. Copper, brass, nickel, and bronze pieces should especially be taken off every night and wiped with a soft cloth to remove oils it has picked up from your skin.
The inherent nature of metal causes it to develop a natural patina over time. You can restore its luster by rubbing the metal with a jewelry polishing cloth. But, if you don't feel comfortable polishing and cleaning a piece of jewelry, you can always reach out to a professional jeweler who can do it for you.
Store jewelry in a cool, dry place – preferably in a tarnish-preventive bag or wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. With silver and other metals, make sure it is not exposed to air and light during storage. Light and air can cause silver to tarnish.
REPAIRS & REACHING OUT TO JEWELERS
Some jewelry artists/jewelers do offer repair services on pieces that they have created. If not, they can usually recommend a place or two to contact. Art jewelry can be made of a wide variety of materials, using a number of techniques. It is important to reach out to the original artist first. Then, research someone familiar with that artist's work, or that is familiar with their methods.