How to care for your jewellery.
Tips on care and cleaning
Wear and tear
What is wear and tear ?
Wear and tear describes the general knocks and scratches that jewellery made from gold and silver develop during its life. Wear and tear can alter the appearance of jewellery significantly. Engraved or textured surfaces can become smooth or scratched.Wedding bands and rings, especially at the back can wear so thin they break, stones become loose or lost from their settings.
Precious metals are soft ( much softer than the steel used to make many of the household tools we use everyday ) and can distort if squeezed or twisted. Repeated twisting may cause cracking. Repeated abrasion ( scratches ) may cause permanent changes to the surface.
How to avoid wear and tear
Take off your jewellery, especially rings when you are doing housework, gardening, heavy work and sports.
What is tarnishing ?
Tarnishing is a non permanent, chemical change in the surface of metal which darkens and dulls over time. It can usually be removed with a preparatory polish.
How to avoid tarnishing
Some metals will tarnish quickly some slowly and some won’t tarnish.
Silver and brass jewellery will tarnish. Chemically clean with a tarnish removing solution or polish. Pollution, contact with chemicals and some skin types will increase the chances of tarnishing happening quickly.
9ct and 14ct gold will tarnish slowly. Use a silver polish on 9ct and 14ct white and yellow gold and a brass cleaner on red gold.
High carat gold ( 18ct, 22ct , 24ct ) platinum, niobium, anodised aluminium won’t tarnish.
General tips for looking after your jewellery:
Take off your rings when you are doing housework, gardening, heavy work and sports. Precious metals are soft and may distort if squeezed or twisted. The chemicals and abrasives we come into contact with can be powerful abrasives, acids and alkalines which could take the polish off your jewellery and mark the metal and stones.
Take off your jewellery before you go to sleep, necklaces and chains could get twisted and kinked as you move around in the night.
Take off your jewellery when you go swimming. The water shouldn't damage your jewellery if its made of metal and stones, however, cold water will make bits of you shrink. Rings and bracelets become looser.
Don’t use chemicals or perfume near pearl jewellery.
Cleaning stones and stone settings:
Stones and settings clogged with gunk and grease.
Use a toothbrush, warm water and some domestic washing-up liquid or detergent and gently brush away the dirt.
Dry with a soft cloth.
A soak for half an hour in warm water and detergent should loosen persistent grime.
Toothpaste is an alternative when the grime is particularily persistent. It is a gentle abrasive, don't use on Pearls, Lapis, Flourite, Coral or special metal finishes.
Cleaning Precious metals: Silver, gold and platinum
Tarnishing can happen quickly on silver, changing from bright white, through yellow, then to brown and eventually black. Some skin types can make the change happen within hours or days. Living in cities with air pollution can speed up tarnishing, as do some household chemicals. It’s difficult to avoid tarnish on silver. Before you start, clean away grease and dirt with warm soapy water, you’ll get better results.
There are several different ways to treat silver tarnish
A jewellers polishing cloth is great for buffing a shiny surface. Don't use on matt finishes, the chemicals in the cloth will start to polish the metal.
A polishing paste on a soft cloth or use polishing paste with a toothbrush, then use a soft cloth to buff.
A dipping solution, ( Goddards silver dip for instance ) our recommended way of dealing with tarnished chains, fiddly bits and bobs. Just dip, wait a few minutes, rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Don't use with pearls, coral, turquoise or lapis.
You can get these from good hardware shops or department stores and some high street jewellers.
Cleaning silver with soda crystals
There is an old fashioned and very effective way to clean silver. Good for special finishes, fine textures and whitened silver. Used originally for cleaning silver cutlery, its a great way to clean silver items in bulk.
You will need a piece of Aluminium foil, a handful of soda crystals,( sodium carbonate ) hot water and a glass ( pyrex, heat resistant ) bowl.
Put the foil in the bowl and the Soda crystals onto it. Place the jewellery you want cleaned onto the crystals and poor hot water into the bowl. Watch as the preparation fizzes, in a few minutes the silver will be white. Rinse in clean cold water and dry.
Don't use with pearls, opals, coral, turquoise or lapis, they will start to dissolve. You can tip the solution down the drain safely after you've finished with it. Use the solution once and throw away.
Will the colour change ?
Whitened silver is a bright white matt finish, which we use a lot at Sian Evans. It is a transient finish, which means it changes over time. On surfaces that come into contact with other metals, abrasives, wear and tear, it will become more polished and silver over time. Rings and bangles will polish to a shiny finish quite quickly. Earrings and pendants will keep their whiteness for longer. The white finish can tarnish to yellow or brown.
How do you care for whitened silver ?
To keep it bright, you can use silver dip or use the method above using Aluminium foil, warm water and Soda crystals . Don't use a cream polish or polishing cloth, it will remove the white surface and polish the silver to a shine.
We can re-whiten your jewellery professionally, please ask. Info@sejewellery.com
How do you care for black or oxidised silver ?
Blackened silver is a dark charcoal coloured finish. It is a transient finish which means that on surfaces that come into contact with other metals, abrasives and with wear and tear, it will become polished and reveal the silver below. Rings and bangles will polish to a shiny silver finish quite quickly. Earrings and pendants will keep their oxidised finish for longer.
Don't use a cream polish or polishing cloth, it will remove the dark finish and polish the silver to a shine.
Can I colour silver black ?
For the more experimental jewellery aficionado, you can re apply the dark finish at home by leaving your piece of jewellery overnight in a sealed container with an egg yolk. Equipment needed for this experiment is: A small plastic food container, an eggcup, one, preferably old egg yolk, broken and poured into the bottom of the container. Place your jewellery on the upturned eggcup in the container. Seal and leave over night. The egg yolk produces a sulphur compound which turns the metal a deep grey. This will only work on Silver.
We can re blacken jewellery for you professionally, please ask. Info@sejewellery.com
Will the gold colour change ?
18ct, 22ct and 24ct Gold won't tarnish, or change colour, but these are soft metals and do scratch. A professional polish and clean is recommended from time to time. These high carat golds have more gold and less other added metals than low carat golds. The metal additives are usually silver, copper or palladium. They are added to make different coloured golds ( Red, yellow, grey and white gold ) or make the gold harder or softer.
Lower carats ( 9ct, 14ct gold ) will tarnish slowly. 9ct, 14ct golds have a lot of silver and copper added to the gold alloy and it is these metals in the gold mix that will tarnish. Treat lower carats as silver.
We can refresh textures and finishes on gold. Please ask for details . Info@sejewellery.com
Platinum does not tarnish, but will scratch and may need a professional polish from time to time. It can dull if dirty or greasy, clean with warm soapy water and a soft cloth or toothbrush.
Will the colour change ?
No but it can get scratched. We can refresh textures and finishes on platinum. Please ask for details. Info@sejewellery.com
Gold Plate, Rhodium Plate, Black Ruthenium Plate.
What is plated metal ?
Plating is a method of applying a thin layer of metal to the surface of another metal. In jewellery, this is usually a method called electroplating.The layer of metal applied is permanently bonded to the original surface. The thickness of the layers of precious metal plate are measured in microns ( a unit of length equal to one millionth of a metre, used in many technological and scientific fields) Plating can be added to change the colour of gold, silver and brass jewellery. In jewellery we usually use a precious metal: gold, silver, ruthenium or rhodium, to change or enhance the colour of the jewellery.
Will the colour change ?
The plating we use is very high quality. ( Our platers have the royal warrant ) Our plated jewellery won't tarnish under normal conditions. It can scratch when in contact with other metals. To minimise scratching keep in the original box when not worn. Plated jewellery can wear over time, it can be re-plated to restore the original colour and can be re polished to remove scratches.
To clean plated jewellery, wash in warm soapy water and dry with a soft cloth. Do not use abrasive cream polishes or cleaners.
If the plate on your jewellery is scratched or worn we can have it professionally refreshed and plated for you. Contacted us at Info@sejewellery.com for more info
What is Niobium ?
Niobium is a rare element, a metal and naturally grey ( Atomic number 41, Symbol Nb). It is named after Niobe in Greek mythology, who was the daughter of Tantalus the namesake of tantalum. The name reflects the great similarity between the two elements in their physical and chemical properties, making them difficult to distinguish.
The bright colour we achieve on this rare metal is through using a process called anodising. The process creates a thin clear film on the surface of the metal which appears to be coloured as it refracts light, technically similar to the colours you see in petrol on the surface of a puddle, but much more beautiful with the quality of colour you’d see on a butterfly wing or beetle carapace.
Can the colours fade ?
The colours change with different light levels, in bright sunlight they are vibrant, in low light they are subtle. Grease effects the refraction of light on the surface and the colours will dull if the metal is dirty. Wash with warm soapy water and a soft cloth to remove the grease. The colours will return to their original vibrant hues. Do not use abrasives, they will wear away the layer with the colour and it will fade. Keep in original box when not worn to avoid scratching.
Coloured aluminium jewellery
What is anodised aluminium ?
Anodising is an electrochemical process that converts the metal surface into a decorative, durable, corrosion-resistant, anodic oxide finish. Aluminum is ideally suited to anodizing, although other nonferrous metals, such as niobium, titanium, and tantalum can also can be anodized. It is a process that is widely used, in aircraft parts, architectural materials, and many consumer products.
Our coloured Aluminium pieces are anodised and dyed. The coloured aluminium pieces are attached to gold plated parts. To clean both types of metal to remove grease and grime wash in warm soapy water and dry with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush. To avoid scratching, when not worn keep jewellery flat and in the original box.
Can the colours fade ?
Some of the colours will fade if left in bright sunlight for long periods, as would clothing and fabrics. Keep away from bright sunlight.
If you have any questions or queries, please get in contact and let us know at Info@sejewellery.com