by Christina Wright
When you want an individualized look, you wear handmade jewelry, but wearing these unique pieces of jewelry means you'll need to clean them as they are exposed to chemicals, the elements and the little messes of everyday life. Because handmade jewelry is so delicate, caring for it requires special measures. Keep your handcrafted jewelry clean and beautiful for years to come by following these simple steps for cleaning and storing unique jewelry.
Clean regularly: The first step to maintaining the look and luster of your handcrafted jewelry is to clean it properly. The more often you wear something, the more often it will need to be cleaned, since wearing handmade bracelets or rings will introduce them to the oils from your skin and the chemicals of things you touch. Always use a cleaner that matches the main material of your jewelry; for example, cleaners for gold will not work on handmade silver jewelry because they are designed to clean and preserve a different metal. Also be careful of how you clean your jewelry. Handmade beaded jewelry and gemstone jewelry will need to be cleaned differently because of the presence of the beads and gems; generally, a jewelry cleaner should not touch the gems, as it can wear off the shiny polish or be absorbed by a porous stone. You can purchase these metal cleaners in liquid or paste form or you can use a jewelry cleaning machine to care for your unique jewelry. You can also use mildly sudsy warm water and pat your jewelry dry.
Prevent damage: Your handmade necklaces and other jewelry will be easier to clean if they're not very dirty or scratched in the first place. Never wear your jewelry while swimming, sunbathing or cleaning; extensive exposure to saltwater, sunlight or harsh chemicals can permanently damage your handmade jewelry. There are damage-prevention tips for specific metals, too; for example, silver is a soft metal, so always remove your handmade silver jewelry before lifting heavy items or doing strenuous work that could potentially damage it. You may also wish to remove handmade beaded jewelry or gemstone jewelry in these situations to avoid having the beads or gems accidentally break off.
Store properly: When you're not wearing or cleaning your handmade jewelry, keep it safe from loss as well as tarnish and age in your jewelry box. Never store your silver handmade earrings or other silver jewelry pieces in the open air, as this will make them tarnish faster. Silver jewelry should always be stored separately from other jewelry in airtight plastic bags to prevent scratching from other jewelry and tarnishing from the moisture in the air. Silver handmade earrings often come with special plastic bags in the right size to protect them. Handmade necklaces and handmade bracelets made of silver can differ a lot, so be careful how you store them; pieces with lots of ornamentation shouldn't be stored with sleek and simple jewelry. Necklaces made of other metals that don't tarnish like silver should be hung to keep them from tangling. Bracelets and rings can be set in drawers, while earrings should have special posts or holders for the pins and clasps.