How to clean & care for your jewellery

Cleaning and caring for your jewellery can keep them looking fabulous and in tip top condition. Have read below and if you know of anymore cleaning hacks email me and I will share them for others to enjoy.

Each piece of Clare Quinlan jewellery is handcrafted. 

I use 100% sterling silver and a range of semi-precious stones. I handmake all my earring hooks and posts also using sterling silver, so are therefore nickel-free.

“Jewelry is the most transformative thing you can every wear.”  

-Iris Apfel

Firstly, what is the difference between Fine Silver and Sterling Silver?

Fine/ Pure/ Elemental Silver
Fine silver is PURE silver, represented on the periodic table as Ag, and is what is found in the ground, created by the earth. Also known as elemental silver, it is 99.9% silver – with 0.01% being trace minerals. This is represented as a 999 or .999 stamp on silver products.

Sterling Silver
Sterling silver is made up of 92.5% fine silver and 7.5% of another other alloy – generally copper. (Sometimes the alloy is zinc or nickel, but not the sterling silver I use!)

Other alloys are mixed in with the silver to increase its strength and durability, which means that it doesn’t scratch as easily as pure silver.

(Incidentally this is the same with gold – pure 24K gold being very soft and difficult to work with. Other alloys are added in to make it harder and increase its durability and workability. The amount of gold in the material of the jewellery is noted with stamps – common ones are 9K, 14K, 18K and 22K.)

While silver tarnishes, it is the copper in the sterling silver that oxidises faster (reacts with oxygen in the air) and discolours or tarnishes the surface. This can appear as a dirty layer.

There are any number of things that can tarnish and dull your jewellery – the air for starters. However perfumes, cosmetics, chlorine, cleaning products, etc can also cause it to tarnish

But fear not! Here are some tips and tricks to keeping your jewels in tip top form!

  Use silver jewellery cleaner and/or polishing cloth to restore its shine.

You can purchase ultrasonic cleaners cheaply – these are good for highly polished pieces and for jewellery items with claws and diamonds and other sparkly things. (I have one to give pieces a deep clean and remove oil and dirt).

∅ For CQJ pieces or others with a matte finish – using a small amount of toothpaste and a cloth (or tissue) or a fine steel wool pad can remove the tarnish on sterling silver jewellery. These are my preferred methods for my CQ jewellery.

However do not do this on highly polished pieces as the paste or steel wool will scratch the surface.

Conversely – if you have a highly polished piece of jewellery that you want to give a more subtle matte finish – try rubbing some toothpaste on it (or some fine steel wool for a more major makeover).

The old aluminium foil and boiling water in a ceramic bowl trick…

Another method for cleaning off tarnish that isn’t quite as ‘hands-on’ as the toothpaste method, is by lining a ceramic, glass or plastic bowl with some aluminium foil, putting in some bicarbonate of soda, placing your jewels in the bowl and pour over boiling water. Ensure the pieces are submerged and are touching the foil. Things will get a bit bubbly. Leave them in there for a few minutes, or longer if needed, and then rinse under water.

Earring on left was after cleaning with this method, earring on the right is uncleaned.

(You need to use a ceramic, glass or plastic bowl rather that a metal bowl – as a metal bowl can react and stop the process.)

I have used this method in the past, however have found results to be hit and miss. I would love to hear how you go, I hope it works for you. Please message or email me your results.

Instead of bicarb soda, there is also a product in the cleaning isle of supermarkets (and Im sure other places) called Lectric Washing Soda that you can use with boiling water and a foil lined ceramic bowl also to clean off tarnish.

But the #1 way to stop sterling silver jewellery tarnishing….

Wear it! I wear my sterling silver jewellery everyday.

This is the BEST way to avoid tarnish.

Its when your jewellery is sitting around exposed to air and dust that it oxidises faster. And it seems that the oils in your skin give it some protection.

A few notes on care…

Salt water may dull and erode your beautiful stones in your pieces – however, my thoughts are that life is for living and jewels are for wearing. Wear and enjoy your jewels! Just rinse them in freshwater afterwards (aka – have a shower with them on).

On the other hand – chlorine can be pretty hazardous to sterling silver. I once went in a pool and my silver jewellery turned black! I was a bit concerned at how much chlorine had been put in the pool to be honest. I rubbed my pieces with some toothpaste however and Voila! Silver once more.

CQ Jewellery comes with a cotton pouch, and while these can be used for all sorts of knick knacks and precious treasures, they do provide a degree of tarnish prevention, keep your jewellery separated from other pieces that could scratch or tangle up with them and are a way to keep them from being misplaced (provided you know where your CQ Jewellery pouch is!)

Did you know we have Gift Vouchers?

CQJ gift vouchers are available online and will be emailed to you – perfect for that last minute gift stumble or to just say…

“I want you to have the whole world of beautiful jewels to admire and delight in… so here’s a voucher for you to choose anything your heart desires!”