We've all been there... peacefully eating a snack, when your suddenly your pendant swings and lands in the sauce on your plate of fries. No? Just me? Well, perhaps your wire wrapped necklace hasn't met the same fate, but through years of wear, has still gotten a bit grimy or tarnished. Not to worry! These things can be fixed.
Before you begin, it is important to consider the materials - both the wire type and the stone. If the wire is sterling silver or gold, you're good to go. If it is either gold-fill or gold plated, or silver plated, you will want to be cautious with abrasives, as they may wear away the plating. If you are unsure, reach out to the artist if possible. If you purchased the piece from me, it is sterling silver (unless it's really old).
The stone type is important too. Porous stones, like turquoise and opal, are easily damaged. If your wrap contains delicate stones, use extra care and consider outsourcing the task to a professional. Stones like quartz and amethyst are more resilient and are not sensitive to water - yay! If you need help identifying the materials in your piece, feel free to email me pictures and I will try to help you figure it out.
In general, this is my recommended procedure for cleaning wire wrapped jewelry:
- Remove any debris with a soft toothbrush. Wire wraps are often complex, with lots of tiny areas that can catch dirt. A pair of tweezers or pressurized can of air may help with hard to reach areas if needed.
- If your piece can get wet (most are okay - I would just avoid this step with opals), rinse it under water. Then use a drop of gentle, clear dish soap, and scrub it lightly with the toothbrush. When scrubbing, focus on the metal and avoid the stones as much as possible to avoid scratching or loosening them.
- Dry the piece using a paper towel or soft cloth, then allow it to air dry fully. If you have a hair dryer, you can use it on the COLD setting.
- Use a jewelry polishing cloth to remove tarnish and shine up the metal, as long as your piece is a solid metal like gold, silver, brass, or copper. I recommend Sunshine brand, but you can use any polishing cloth made for jewelry. Polishing cloths have an abrasive compound built into the fibers, so they are not meant to be used on plated metals, as they can wear away the layer of gold or silver that sits on top. As you rub the metal, you will notice the cloth becoming black - this is the tarnish being removed. Hooray!
- Once you are satisfied with the polish, rinse and gently wash your piece again. This final step will remove any polishing compound leftover from the cloth. Allow the piece to dry fully before storing it again.
If your piece seems extra delicate or has sensitive stones, follow your best judgement or ask the artist for advice. Sometimes a little tarnish is better than risking damage to your piece. Feel free to email me with any questions about jewelry care - I am here to help!
A note on "jewelry cleaning solutions" and other chemical methods: I do not recommend using chemical cleaners on jewelry with stones - to me, it's just not worth the risk. If you decide to go that route, be sure to read all instructions, and check google for reviews. Never use chemical cleaners on stones like opal or turquoise! Minerals in the quartz family may be okay, but test a small area first if possible, as cleaners may change the color or surface shine of stones.
As always, the best method of care is prevention. When possible, take off your jewelry before activities like messy eating, gardening, cooking, or swimming, and be sure to store it in a safe place. Frequent wear may actually help your silver pieces stay bright, but I keep mine in sealed bags when not in use to prevent the natural tarnishing process.