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Jewelry Care

 

 Care of Metals:

 

1) Sterling Silver and Fine Silver:

             Sterling silver is pure silver that has been mixed with other metals (alloys) to make jewelry more durable.  In order for silver to be called sterling silver, it must contain at least 92.5% of pure silver, so you might see sterling components stamped with a marking that says .925 or 92.5 on one of their surfaces. Copper is the metal most commonly used to make up the remaining percentage (7.5) of sterling silver;  it makes the silver harder so that it can be used to make durable jewelry, which is a good thing, but it also causes tarnishing, a not-so-good thing if you like a shiny look.  To get rid of the tarnish, refer to the third paragraph.

             Fine silver is 99.9% pure silver and has a more white look to it than sterling.  It is definitely softer than sterling but can be work-hardened for durable jewelry.  Because fine silver doesn't have other metal alloys in it, it almost never tarnishes.  I work with both fine silver and sterling.

             Silver polishing cloths are the best answer to clean your sterling jewelry, especially if there are other design elements (stones, pearls, etc.) you have to take into consideration.  You should stay away from harsh chemicals and toothpaste, since those substances can wear off the silver and/or scratch it.  Always wash your sterling silver jewelry with warm water and mild soap after you clean it with your polishing cloth.  Let them air dry or dry them with a lint-free towel.

             Store your sterling jewelry in tarnish prevention cloths or bags, which are specially treated.  These particular cloths and bags slow down the tarnishing process .  If you don't have those bags or cloths, and cannot find them in your local stores, email me at razzdazz@frontiernet.net or call me at 585-381-8192 for further information.

 

 2) Gold-filled:

               Gold-filled ( sometimes referred to as "gold overlay" or "rolled gold" ) is made by bonding or fusing thick layers of karat gold (much thicker than gold plate) to a supporting metal, such as brass, using appropriate equipment and heat, which produces a permanent bond.  To be called gold-filled (GF) the gold content must be at least 1/20th the weight of the total piece.  Not so with gold plate.

              Gold-filled is much less expensive than solid gold but more expensive than gold plate.  If you want thelook of karat gold, and price is a strong consideration, then gold-filled is the way to go.  You will get the look of real gold jewelry without the price tag, and provided you take proper care of your gold-filled pieces, the jewelry will last a lifetime.  Gold-filled is the next best thing to solid gold jewelry.

               To clean your gold-filled jewelry wash it often in a little bit of warm water with mild soap, rinse with clear water, and then carefully dry with a soft cloth.  If you need to restore some lustre to your gold-filled jewelry, you may gently rub it with a silver polishing cloth and then wash and rinse as stated above.  Always wash off the residue from a polishing cloth.

 

3) Vermeil (ver-MAY):

              The product must be made of sterling silver (not a base metal such as brass) with a coating or plating on all of its surfaces with at least 10 karats of gold, 2.5 microns thick, in order for the product to be called vermeil.  There are some vermeils that are manufactured in 14 karat, 18 Karat and 24 karat gold.

              Vermeil gold has a more expensive look than gold plating and actually is more expensive than jewelry or components which are only gold plated.  It's closer in look to karat gold than gold plate and costs much less than karat gold.

               To clean your Vermeil jewelry, simply wash it in lukewarm water using a mild soap, rinse and pat dry.  DO NOT use a silver polishing cloth on vermeil because it will more than likely rub the gold finish off the piece and you will be left with sterling silver. Do not put vermeil in an ultrasonic cleaner.
 

4) 24K Gold Electroformed Components:

              Through a specific process, 24K gold is deposited over an object made from, let's say, a base metal (brass, copper, etc.).  After that process is finished, the base metal is removed from the core of the object, called evacuation, and you are left with a hollow item called an electroform.  As a result, gold, electroformed jewelry pieces are light weight and seamless, and while this process is time consuming and expensive, the end result is a light weight, strong piece of gold in the shape of the original object.  

              The electroforming process can also be applied onto real leaves, sealife, gems and minerals. In these cases, however, the base material is not removed.


 

Care of Pearls:

 

Pearls are magnificent, but they are soft and damage easily.  You must take good care of them if you want them to retain their beauty.  They are considered gemstones, and like other gemstones, certain chemicals and conditions should be avoided when wearing or storing pearls. 

 

Pearls can be damaged by acid, perfume, hairspray, perspiration, alkaline, vinegar, fruit juices, chlorine, detergents and different levels of humidity.   These chemicals and other products we use almost on a daily basis can dull the beautiful luster (the surface glow) on the outside of the pearl, thereby striping the pearl of its natural beauty.   Pearls can also be scratched by metals or other gemstones that come into close contact with with them.

 

A Word About Matching Pearls:

Because pearls grow in nature, no two are exactly alike in size, luster, surface and shape.  I try very hard to match pearls for earrings and some necklaces, but be aware that an exact match is next to impossible.  Please allow for differences with these natural beauties.

 

What can you do to clean and protect your pearls?

  • Apply perfumes, body lotions, hair spray in areas that don't come in contact with your pearls, and apply these chemicals before you put your pearls on:  necklaces, rings, earrings.  If your pearls accidentally come into contact with any of the substances mentioned above, wipe those harmful substances off immediately with a damp, soft cloth.
  • After removing your pearls, wipe them down with a damp, not wet, soft cloth. Allow the pearls to air dry before putting them away.
  • Water can weaken the silk threads that many pearl strands are strung with, so please don't soak your pearls in water or wear them while bathing.
  • Never clean your pearls in an ultrasonic cleaner or in solutions that contain harsh chemicals, such as ammonia.
  • Never rub your pearls with an abrasive cloth, as that could leave scratch marks and wear away the lustrous nacre.
  • Periodically, check the threads of your pearls for signs of wear (stretching, fraying, etc.) and if these signs of wear are present, have your pearls restrung.  Don't wait until the threads break.

 

How should you store your pearls?

  • Store your pearls in a separate jewelry box, or at least in a separate area inside your jewelry box which is away from other jewelry.  Metals and gemstones can scratch your pearls and damage them.
  • You can also store your pearls in a soft bag or pouch made from a non-abrasive material.
  • Do not store them for long periods of time in a safety deposit box because that could cause the pearls to dehydrate. 

 

Note:  If you clean and store your pearls correctly and wear your pearls often (following the instructions above) they will stay beautiful for a long time.


 

Gemstones:

 

How should you care for and store your gemstones and gemstone jewelry?

 

There are literally scores and scores of different precious and semi-precious gemstones, and like pearls they must be cared for in order for them to retain their beautiful properties.  Some gemstones like diamonds, are quite hard and can handle rougher treatment than some others like opals, which are quite soft and can chip and shatter easily. 

 

Without getting into every gemstone found on this planet, or every gemstone I work with, I will simply say that you should keep them away from harsh chemicals, perfumes and lotions, excessive heat and sunlight, and extreme variations in temperature.  Store them in a velvet or soft lined jewelry box, separated from each other so they don't rub up against each others' surfaces and get scratches.

 

To learn more about the mines, history and care of specific gemstones, research the web which contains a myriad of information just a click away.

 

 

How should you clean your gemstones, druzies and gemstone jewelry? 

 

To clean gemstones, I gently wash them (not soak them) in tepid water using a little mild soap that doesn't contain harsh chemicals.  I then rinse them in clear water, pat them dry with a soft cloth (not a paper towel), and then lay them out on a towel to fully dry. 

 

There are other types of cleaning methods which I will not get into here, nor do I use them.  Some of them, like ultrasonic cleaners, chemical cleaning agents and boiling gemstones in water can damage the stones.  You should have a reputable jeweler do these other cleaning methods.  Don't attempt them yourself.