7 Tips on Caring for Art Jewelry

art jewelry care instruction by Popnicute Jewelry
Caring for your art jewelry made of either Argentium, copper, or brass is quite similar. Let's find out how!

What do Argentium Silver, copper, and brass have in common?

Argentium silver, copper, and brass contain copper in their alloys.
 
Argentium silver is an alloy of 93.5% fine silver with the rest being made up of other alloys, such as copper and a small amount of germanium that gives Argentium the tarnish resistant quality.
 
Copper is 99.9% pure copper.
 
Brass is an alloy made primarily of copper and zinc. The proportions of the copper and zinc are varied to yield many different kinds of brass. Basic modern brass is 67% copper and 33% zinc. The amount of copper may range from 55% to 95% by weight, with the amount of zinc varying from 5% to 40%.
 
With that in mind, caring for your art jewelry made of either Argentium, copper, or brass is quite similar. Protect your investment in the best way possible.

ART JEWELRY CARE CHECKLIST

  • Store your art jewelry in a cool, dry place in a closed container.
  • Keep away from direct sun exposure when unused.
  • Do not spray perfume or lotion while wearing jewelry.
  • Do not soak in water for a long period and dry immediately after cleaning it.
  • Use a cleaning cloth/pad made for silver to restore the shine.
  • Always take off your artisan jewelry before shower and before bed.
  • Remove jewelry before entering chlorinated or salt-water swimming pools/jacuzzis.
Art jewelry care instruction checklist

1. STORE YOUR ART JEWELRY IN A CLOSED CONTAINER

DO

The best way to store your art jewelry is in a cool, dry place. Place your Popnicute jewelry inside the box it came or in a closed container stuffed with a silica packet or anti-tarnish strips to absorb excess moisture.
 

Alternatively, you can also use anti-tarnish jewelry pouch to store your art jewelry. 

DON’T

Don’t cram your jewelry carelessly inside a drawer with other objects. Chains may get tangled and softer gemstones may get scratched. Other heavy objects may alter the shapes of your wearable art. Don’t leave your art jewelry out on the table unprotected.
 

Why does sterling silver tarnish?

The copper reacts to moisture and sulfur in the air, causing the sterling silver tarnish. Silver tarnishes faster in areas with high humidity and air pollution. Chemicals like hairspray, perfume, deodorant, body lotion, bleach, and such, can speed up the tarnishing process
. That’s why storing them in an airtight container may slow down the tarnishing process.

2. STORE YOUR ART JEWELRY AWAY FROM DIRECT SUNLIGHT EXPOSURE

DO

To preserve the lifespan of your art jewelry, keep it in a closed container or hang on a shaded wall when unworn.
 

DON’T

Don’t bake your jewelry under the sun more than necessary.
 

Why do I need to keep my art jewelry away from sunlight exposure?

If your art jewelry features any colored stones, keep it away from the sun. As with any art, sun is the enemy. Exposure to sunlight heats things up and wears things out. Sunlight can make materials brittle, and cause them to crack, flake or warp.
 
Prolonged exposure to sunlight can also cause colors to fade, bleaching the pigment out of bright and vivid paint, ink and dye. Most gemstones available in the market are treated in some way; from heat-treated, stabilized, to dyed to enhance the coloring.

Image: Sunflowers and Beehives collection by Popnicute Jewelry.

3. KEEP YOUR ART JEWELRY AWAY FROM PERFUME

DO

Always spritz before you accessorize. 

The oils found in perfumes tend to stick to the faceted surfaces of precious gemstones, dulling their shine. Porous gemstones like turquoise, pearls, and opals may absorb the oil and moisture altering the appearances. If your art jewelry features any paper products, there are more reasons not to spray perfume or hair products on your jewelry.
 
Synthetic ingredients and chemicals found in most bottled fragrances can also tarnish silver and other precious metals. Let perfume dry for 10 minutes before adorning yourself.
 

DON’T

Don’t apply perfume, makeup, hairsprays, and lotion while wearing your jewelry.

4. AVOID SOAKING YOUR ART JEWELRY

I know it’s tempting to do everything with your jewelry on but it may not be the best practice if you plan to keep your art jewelry with you for a long time. Bathwater may contain some chemicals and oils that dull the appearance of silver, copper, or brass, and certain gemstones.
 

DO

While soaking the metal in tap water is pretty harmless, water may do some damage to absorbent materials like leather, paper, or silk.
 
When your art jewelry is exposed to water, dry it immediately.
 

DON’T

Don’t soak your jewelry. Period.

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5. CLEAN YOUR ART JEWELRY REGULARLY

DO

When your art jewelry shows a sign of tarnishing, it’s time to clean it. Cleaning your jewelry is a simple task. Most, if not all Popnicute products are antiqued to enhance the artistic look of the design.
 
To clean it, use a cleaning cloth such as Sunshine® polishing cloth or polishing pad intended for silver. Mild abrasive such as baking soda paste is safe to use.
 
To make baking soda paste, add a little bit of room temperature water to a tablespoon of baking soda. Then rub the paste with your finger or soft toothbrush on the surface. Finish if off immediately by brushing it with a mild soap solution and rinse under running water.
 
Don’t leave the baking soda paste to dry as it may settle on the crevices and leave unsightly white crusts on your jewelry.
 
Dry with a soft cloth or paper towel right after. Do not air dry to avoid water rings.
 

DON’T

Keep it away from any cleaning solution that requires dipping as it may remove the artistic patina on the piece. Avoid any abrasive cleaner as it may scratch the surface of your jewelry.
 
Don’t use overly hot water to clean your jewelry. Some finishes on metals or gemstones may get affected by extreme temperature. 

6. TAKE YOUR ART JEWELRY OFF BEFORE SHOWER OR BED.

DO

No matter how busy you are, take off any jewelry you wear before taking a shower/bath, whether it’s a piece of art jewelry or your wedding ring. See point #4.
 
 

DON’T

Going to bed with your art jewelry is a big NO-NO. I can’t even imagine it’s going to be comfortable to sleep in as art jewelry is typically big or sculptural. Your unconscious movement and the stress from your body weight may damage or alter the shape of your jewelry.

7. REMOVE YOUR ART JEWELRY BEFORE SWIMMING.

DO

Wear you favorite swimwear and apply sunscreen when necessary.
 

DON’T

Don’t wear your jewelry to swim parties, whether to a swimming pool or to the beach.
 
Chlorine is bad for your jewelry as it can damage and discolor metals (like gold and platinum) and can slowly erode the finish and polish of gemstones. To keep your jewelry at tip-top shape, don’t swim with it.
 
Sea salt is very corrosive to copper and it will cause the jewelry to collapse much faster. While that won’t happen quickly if you plan on spending all summer by the shore you may want to consider leaving jewelry made with soft materials at home. Sand and hard labor may leave unwanted scratches on the surface of your prized jewelry, especially on rings.
 
Look what happened to this silver copper mokume gane ring in accelerated exposure to saltwater.

Have you been guilty to wear your jewelry when you're not supposed to?

Discuss it in the comment.

caring for your art jewelry do's and don'ts
Kharisma.

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Kharisma Sommers

Kharisma Sommers

When I'm not working on improving my metalsmithing skills, I like to take macro photos of flowers (but only when the weather is warm because I'm picky like that). I spend my days watching funny animal videos on Facebook and/or glued on Netflix. It's hard to imagine that I won awards for my jewelry if you judge me by my silly pajamas.

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