Jewellery Cleaning and Care
Clean your costume jewellery like a pro!
Costume jewellery can be gold or silver plated (a thin layer of the real thing over brass or nickel), with Rhinestones or gemstones and beads.
So … why DOES costume jewellery change colour?
If it gets wet (in the shower, swimming pool, hot tub, while washing dishes, etc), that can leave dark water spots which are hard to remove or it could even rust.
If cleaning products come in contact with the jewellery that can take off the finish, because of the harsh chemicals. Perfume and hairspray can change the colour for the same reason.
Good old oxygen is another bad guy. Without getting too much into the science, when metals are exposed to the air (all the time, basically) there’s a reaction that causes discoloration.
Sweating a lot – on a sticky hot day, while at the gym – can cause the pieces to change colour and start looking dull.
Allergies could be to blame for the change. Many people are sensitive to copper and nickel – used a lot to make costume jewellery. If your skin changes colour or gets irritated or itchy in spots you wear the jewellery, odds are you’re allergic – but check with a doctor to be sure.
Can this be prevented?
Now, there are simple things you can do to keep costume pieces looking better and for longer.
Whenever you’ll be in or near water – to wash dishes, your hands, go in the pool, take a shower or bath – take off your rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings. Then there won’t be those annoying water spots all over your stuff and they won’t rust from not being dried well.
The same goes for when you’re cleaning your house or will be using products with strong chemicals – remove it all! Chemicals plus costume jewellery is a bad combination, because they’re pretty delicate and no match for those strong products. They could change colour, lose their shine or start to peel.
Getting ready for a big night out? Hairspray, makeup, perfume and lotion first, costume jewellery second. If your jewellery goes on first, anything you spray on or apply will draw dirt and dust to your fabulous pieces and they’ll soon start to look dull too. Talk about a pain to clean!
Can they be cleaned, then?
Absolutely! But first, remember this mantra and repeat it to yourself: as little liquid as possible. Other than those irritating water marks we mentioned, if your pieces include gemstones using too much liquid (water, jewellery cleaner) could weaken the glue keeping them in place. If there are rhinestones, soaking those will ruin the foil backing that makes them look sparkly.
There’s no hard and fast rule for how often they need to be cleaned, but a good rule of thumb is the more you wear a piece, the more it should be cared for.
Here’s a good, and easy, method. You likely have everything you need in your bathroom already:
Mix together one drop each of baby shampoo and water (regular jewellery cleaners, usually meant for the real deal, are too harsh to use on costume pieces). Use a soft toothbrush or Q-Tip to clean hard-to-reach spots. Rinse off quickly in cool water and dry with a clean, soft hand towel or microfiber cloth. Use a hairdryer on the cool setting to be sure each piece is totally dry. This will keep them from rusting. Use a warmer setting and the piece may warp, or the glue holding any gemstones in place could melt.
It’s important to remember not to use anything acidic like vinegar or baking soda. Because this type of jewellery is so fragile, using something harsh or with a lot of acid could ruin it rather than make it look like new again.
To get of Verdigris (the fancy name for that green gunk that loves to invade costume jewellery) I suggest using a toothpick, Q-Tip or dry, soft toothbrush to remove it. These are good ways to get rid of that gross stuff without taking a chance on ruining the piece itself. If there’s still some left behind give the baby shampoo-water mixture a try.
How should I store these pieces?
Take off your jewellery at the end of each day and give each piece a quick wipe down (once will do) with a clean microfiber cloth.
Keep them in zippered plastic bags – one piece per bag – with all the air removed. This way they won’t be exposed to oxygen and should stay looking shiny and pretty longer between cleanings.
I would also invest in a good, velvet-lined jewellery box with a lid. while the soft velvet lining protects it from getting scratched.
And there you have it!
With a few easy steps, your gorgeous jewellery can look like new again!
The care you provide your jewellery will reward you with years of pleasurable wear.