Taking care of costume jewelry is similar to caring for fine gem jewelry. Most of the procedures you follow just need some common sense and knowledge of the composition of the material your jewelry is made up of. Cleaning this kind of jewelry is not tough; rather it is easier than cleaning the gemstones. The difficult part is knowing the type of cleaning that should be provided for each piece in your collection.
Abrasive environment and moisture are the most common causes of deterioration of costume jewelry. The base metal and plating used in the creation of jewelry tends to oxidize when exposed to certain elements such as sulfur, oxygen and acids.
In addition, you will need to be careful when cleaning costume jewelry, as they are very sensitive to any cleaning solution. The plated materials used in jewelry cannot withstand abrasive cleaning.
Discoloration, which is the most common problem with costume jewelry, has two main causes behind it. First, metallic abrasion from beauty products will discolor the surface of the jewelry. A fine black dust may be formed when these compounds rub against the metal used in the jewelry.
Corrosion of the jewelry’s metal is the second reason behind the discoloration. Gold and silver do not corrode, but silver and copper alloys will. This discoloration is prevalent in coastal areas where salty air and sweat combine to induce a corrosive reaction.
Here are some of the best tips on caring for your costume jewelry:
* Costume Jewelry should only be cleaned when there is really a need for it. Cleaning becomes must if there are signs of grime, oil, dirt, or other impurities.
* In order to keep the finish intact, gently clean the piece after every wearing.
* Silver plated items can be cleaned of tarnish with a silver polishing cloth. It is better to use a dry cloth rather than a liquid or paste polish on plated items.
* Use a glass cleaning product instead of soapy water or jewelry cleaner. In addition, use a soft cloth to clean and wipe the piece of jewelry. Never spray glass cleaner directly onto your jewelry.
* Baking soda and toothpaste are too abrasive for cleaning costume jewelry.
* If you use a commercial jewelry cleaner, check that it is safe for costume jewelry. Read the label to avoid products that contain ammonia, vinegar, acid, or alcohol.
* If your jewelry gets wet, dry it immediately to prevent rusting.
* A soft bristle toothbrush or a soft cotton swab may be used to care for the smooth surfaces of the jewelry.
* Do not use a silver jewelry cleaner on costume jewelry. It contains a mild acid and may strip the finish off your jewelry.
* For longevity, don’t wear your costume jewelry every day. This type of jewelry is best worn on important occasions.
* When storing your jewelry, separate each piece and store in a dust free, cool and dry environment. You may wrap more expensive pieces in the tissue paper or a soft cloth.
* Never “coat” your jewelry with a spray protectorate or finisher. It can alter the finish and make your jewelry look dull. A spray protectorate is even very difficult to take off.
* Don’t sleep wearing your jewelry
Some other common sense tips
Keep your costume jewelry away from water, beauty products and harsh chemicals. Do not swim while wearing jewelry; nor exercise or wash dishes. Your jewelry collection should be stored in a jewelry box, stand, display or pouch. Since the subject is wide and varied, the above list is not all inclusive.
Jennny Chu is an American fashion writer currently located in Bangkok, Thailand. Her hobbies are fashion, shopping and jewelry, especially the jewelry from Wow Jewelry.