One of the questions we get asked most is how to best care for our jewelry. You’ve bought a necklace or pair of earrings, worn them a bunch, and now maybe some of the metals are a bit dull or tarnished. Not to worry! There are easy ways to care for your jewels that don’t require any crazy cleaners or supplies.
Here’s a quick overview:
Our jewelry is composed of a few different metals, each of which require different cleaning instructions. Whenever possible, we use recycled brass & vintage brass chains. However, when we are designing NEW components to be combined with our vintage materials, these are generally also made from recycled brass but plated with 14K gold. This applies to most of our stud earrings or pendants and it has a shinier gold colour. We use a thick plating (2.5 microns) and we also apply what is called an “e-coating” overtop of the plating which is a wax-like substance that helps to sustain the life of the plating but none of our jewelry is currently “precious metal” - solid gold or sterling silver - so it doesn’t have the “forever” lifespan of those metals and it does require a bit of extra care.
Cleaning Instructions for Brass:
Brass jewelry is raw brass - it has not been plated with other metals (i.e. gold or silver) and isn’t a “coating” or plating that is going to wear off. However, it does tarnish (the same as sterling silver) based on how often it is worn and the composition of someone’s skin/sweat. If you don't have sensitivities to base metals, brass jewelry it is a great option that can still last just as long as precious metals without breaking the bank. It is generally moisture and/or oxygen that causes metal to tarnish, so we always recommend not storing jewelry in your bathroom and to be sure that you remove it before any strenuous exercise, showers, applying moisturizer/hairspray etc. As an extra precaution, you can also store your jewelry in a sealed plastic bag or jewelry box when you’re not wearing it.
Having said that, the great thing about brass is that even if it has tarnished or darkened, all of its original beautiful shine and colour is still there underneath! It can never be worn away. It just requires a bit of extra care. It is very easy to clean brass with a large array of household supplies. We have had the most luck with plain white vinegar or soy sauce. You can dip your jewelry right in it, let it sit for a minute or two max and give it a rinse with warm water and just regular old dish soap. If it needs a bit more elbow grease, we recommend gently using an old toothbrush, Q-tip, or a dish sponge to help it along. We work with mostly vintage chains, many of which look dull & tarnished when they arrive to our studio but we clean them all up with this method and they are good as new. There’s a quick and easy way to find out if your jewelry is brass - it is the only metal that does NOT stick to a magnet. So if you hold it to a magnet and it doesn’t stick, the vinegar trick should work. Other people also use ketchup, or you can make a toothpaste-like cleaner out of baking soda & lemon juice. If you google cleaning brass, there are probably a million other tricks we haven’t tried yet.
Cleaning Instructions for Plated Metals:
Our stud earrings and most of our pendants are plated with 14K gold. Underneath the plating, the pieces are raw brass. While the plating does have a protective “e-coating” on top, you still want to do your best to lengthen the lifespan of your jewels. All the above precautions apply. Do NOT use any chemical jewelry cleaners on plated jewelry. Always, the best practice for cleaning plated jewelry is to use a polishing cloth. These cloths are formulated to protect plating; however, keep in mind that each time you clean it you are stripping away parts of the plating to reveal the shinier new gold underneath and these pieces do not have a “forever” lifespan.
Many of our pieces combine both vintage brass and plated metals. It’s totally safe to use vinegar or any of the above household methods on plated metals, but just remember that it may shorten the lifespan of the plating. In some cases, it’s easier to spot clean problem areas with a q-tip or toothbrush rather than soaking your entire piece.
If you have any questions on how to clean a specific piece of HG jewelry, please feel free to reach out to our team. We’re always happy to assist in keeping your jewels looking good and living long happy lives.