You might think that storing and maintaining jewelry is a no-brainer. Just stick Great Aunt Susie’s old gold ring in a box and polish it once every decade or so, right?
Under the surface, precious metals are actually incredibly reactive chemical substances that are constantly searching for any excuse to react to another substance. While watching chemistry in action seems like a pretty cool way to spend an afternoon, the reactions that take place in metal tend to be pretty disappointing.
Common jewelry maintenance mistakes can exacerbate these processes and leave you will dull and tarnished junk.
Cleaning and storage mistakes are common, but read on to learn about seven common but completely avoidable mistakes that will help ensure that Great Aunt Susie’s ring continues to sparkle for decades to come!
Mistake #1: Keeping It All On Display
The most common reaction is corrosion, which is most common in silver jewelry. When silver is exposed to oxygen, it also becomes exposed to the sulfur that is in the air. When silver reacts with sulfur, it forms silver sulfide, a black substance that tends to form a layer on the outside of your favorite jewelry, causing it to look tarnished.
While keeping an eye on your jewelry by displaying it proudly on an open-air jewelry stand may look nice, over time, the exposure to the air will cause your precious metals to tarnish. Instead, consider keeping precious metal jewelry in an airtight, dark box lined with something soft.
Mistake #2: Mixing Your Metals
So you have picked out a lovely, airtight, moisture-free jewelry box! Great! Only, don’t be so quick to throw all of your silver and gold jewelry in there together.
It turns out that tarnishing is contagious. By storing your silver with your gold, you could be causing unaffected and pure metals to become tarnished, too.
To prevent this, it’s best to store different metals separately. Jewelry boxes with compartments for different metals are a great option for preventing the spread of corrosion from your silver to your gold.
Mistake #3: Forgetting About It
Most people don’t wear their best gold jewelry every single day, and when properly stored, most of these pieces remain out of sight and out of mind. Forgetting your jewelry in the jewelry box is an easy mistake that can lead to the slow creep of tarnish and corrosion over time.
If you didn’t clean your jewelry before putting it into the box, it may contain residue from your sweat or your body products. Everything from hairspray to body lotion tends to create corrosion in your jewelry, so washing these chemicals away is an important step in maintaining it properly.
It may be wise to invest in a safe to use jewelry cleaning kit and choose a few days each year to dedicate to cleaning your precious jewelry. Why don’t you open up your phone and schedule a reminder right now? We’ll wait.
Mistake #4: Showering With Your Jewelry
If you’re wearing your jewelry regularly, keeping it clean is even more important, as jewelry that is worn regularly is exposed to all of the dangers we’ve already discussed – oxygen, sweat, body products, hair products, and even laundry detergent. You may be tempted to kill two birds with one stone and just wear your jewelry into the shower. That will keep it clean, right?
Hard water and heat can cause jewelry to disintegrate, and you probably don’t want to take that chance. The products you use in the shower, like certain soaps, might also react with your metals. Storing your jewelry wet can also be a problem.
Mistake #5: Cleaning It With Lemon Juice
Everyone loves an all-natural solution, but all-natural doesn’t always mean better. In the case of cleaning jewelry and metals with lemon juice, you are taking a big risk.
Ready for another chemistry lesson? Lemons cause our faces to pucker when we lick them because they contain acid. And acid is – you guessed it – incredibly corrosive.
Plated jewelry or soft metals respond poorly to acid. It’s just too abrasive for these delicate pieces. It can cause all kinds of imperfections, from discoloration to chipping.
While it may be tempting to go the all-natural route, you’re better off avoiding lemon juice.
Mistake #5: Cleaning It By Boiling It
Is there anything that metal doesn’t react with? You might think water is safe – and you’re not wrong. Boiling your jewelry may seem wise if you’ve seen a professional jeweler clean your precious pieces using steam, but there are some problems with this technique.
Most kitchen pots and pans are made of metal. Pop quiz – what happens when metal is exposed to other elements? If you answered ‘it reacts and bad things happen,’ you’ve been paying attention!
Metal that touches metal can cause your jewelry to overheat and warp, leaving you with misshapen jewelry.
Mistake #6: Bleaching It
You may be tempted to bleach your jewelry. Bleach is clean! Bleach is pure!
Bleach will also break down your metal, including your gold. In the case of lemon juice, the substance is too acidic. In the case of bleach, it’s too alkaline.
Mistake #6: Going DIY With Your Precious Pieces
Any piece with stones, gems, or pearls is more delicate than your run-of-the-mill metal pieces. Even if a cleaner is safe for your metal, it may be too abrasive for your diamond or dissolve your pearl. If a piece is complex, expensive, or very special, it might be better to leave the cleaning to the professionals.
Mistake #7: Using Toothpaste As A Jewelry Cleaner
You have probably seen this lifehack floating around, but don’t be fooled. Toothpaste is designed to be abrasive, and using it to clean your soft metals and stones can cause scratching. You’re better off going with a jewelry cleaner or bringing your jewelry to a professional.
Jewelry Maintenance Mistakes Are Avoidable
While jewelry maintenance mistakes are easy to make, avoiding them and caring for your precious metal jewelry is just as easy, even if it is less exciting than watching chemistry in action!
Interested in more weird, everyday science? Check out other explosive posts on the blog!
The post 7 Common Jewelry Maintenance Mistakes and How to Avoid Them first appeared on Weirdomatic. Weirdomatic is the place where all weird things come to life through the amazing world of photographs – a corner of our wild imagination or the whimsical face of the reality?
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