Metal Specifics

Hand Holding a Lemon - Sourced from Unsplash - Photo by Florencia Potter

Specifics about Metals

Behold! The lemon.

Alongside several other household items, you can use lemons to clean jewelry. Below, are some interesting tidbits about common metal types and cleaning.

 

Sterling Silver 

Sterling Silver in its purest jewelry form is .925. This is considered hypoallergenic. A common, less expensive alternative form is "silver-filled", which means a percentage of silver has been bonded (hundreds of times stronger than electro-plating) to a base metal, like brass. Most of my silver jewelry is sterling. If any item is silver-filled, it will state as such.

Wearing the jewelry piece actually helps keep it from tarnishing. The oils in our skin act almost like a polish. Eventually, exposure to oxygen and other chemicals in the air will still result in tarnishing, though. 

In addition to the basic cleaning methods in Caring for Your Jewelry, you can also clean Sterling Silver using a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil. Mix 1/2 cup lemon juice + 1 tsp of olive oil in a large bowl. Using a microfiber cloth, dip it into the mixture, wring it out, then polish your jewelry piece. Rinse the mixture off in warm (not hot) water, then dry with a soft cloth.

 

Raw Copper

Let's talk about the elephant in the room: Wearing copper close to your skin causes your skin to turn green. 

This does not mean you have an allergy. Copper is considered hypoallergenic. The tarnishing has to do with copper's reaction to chemicals in the air and our skin. Keeping your jewelry clean and dry are the best methods to avoid "the green monster". Anything in close, constant contact with your skin, like rings, bracelets, and ear wires made from copper will be the top contenders, alongside necklace chains.


Ketchup in a small cup - Sourced from Unsplash - Photo taken by D.L. Samuels

Copper can be cleaned with several household items - 

    • Ketchup--true story. It's the vinegar. Just slather some on the jewelry piece, polish it with your fingers or that soft child's toothbrush to your satisfaction (please don't use your kid's actual toothbrush, OK?), and rinse it off. Shiny.
    • Lemon Juice + Baking Soda--also true! Mix 1 tbsp lemon juice with 1 tbsp baking soda to make a paste. Spread it on the jewelry piece and polish with that same soft child's toothbrush (remember - not your kid's toothbrush). Rinse with lukewarm water to remove all the residue. Pat dry with a soft cloth and leave to air dry completely.
    • Copper Only pieces--Lemon + Salt. Pour some lemon juice on your jewelry piece. Apply some salt and polish with a soft cotton cloth. You can also apply salt directly to the soft inside of a half a lemon and rub that directly on your jewelry piece. Rinse well with cool water, pat dry with a soft cloth and leave to air dry completely.

Do not use the Lemon + Salt method on any pieces with gemstones - the acidity will completely destroy your stone, and you'll be very upset. *sad face*

Lastly, if you do notice a green tint to your skin, soap and water work perfectly.

 

Gold-Filled

Gold-filled wire is literally the same as silver-filled (see the "Sterling Silver" section above), but it is made of gold that has been bonded to a base metal (not electro-plated). It will last just like regular gold as long as you keep it clean and treat it just like gold.

Gold-filled should not tarnish unless it is being subjected to some pretty intense situations. The best methods for cleaning gold-filled are the basic cleaning methods at the top of this blog. 

 

Jeweler's Brass

Jeweler's Brass is a fantastic way to get a look similar to gold without the price. I commonly use this for creating hair forks, hairpins, and hair slides because the wire needs to be a heavy gauge (thick) and real gold would be too expensive. Consider the cleaning of brass to be just like the cleaning of copper. You can use the same methods.

The most popular method of cleaning for brass jewelry pieces involve using the basic cleaning method of mild dish detergent with warm (not hot) water. Rinse, then slather on the ketchup. Polish with a toothbrush and then rinse with lukewarm water. Pat dry with a clean, soft cloth, then leave to air dry fully.

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