Many people I meet seem to be under the impression that tarnish is something that can’t be avoided. They are embarrassed when a piece of theirs if tarnished, and that really, they should take better care of their jewelry, but simply can’t find the time to combat something that happens anyway.
If you’re like me and the majority of the people who own my jewelry, you will have a small mountain of jewelry that you own sitting in a box somewhere in your home. Most people know that if you wear a piece of jewelry every day, it won’t tarnish as much as quickly as a piece sitting in a box. This is because the oils in your skin will actually coat the jewelry slightly, helping to protect the silver from interacting with the oxygen in the air, which is what forms tarnish. Moist, humid air will increase the production of tarnish, and if you wear lotions, you will also coat your jewelry with lotion, causing it to be dirty and perhaps have a layer of lotion-grime, but that’s a different problem entirely.
Here is where I will tell you a secret. I don’t have any more time to clean a mountain of jewelry than you do.
When I make a piece, I really only want to clean it once, to remove any and all residues that are left after the creation process. I do NOT have time to go back and clean it again in a week, or a month, or even six months. So I don’t do it. What I do instead is when I have finished a piece, I thoroughly clean it, then I put it away in it’s box and don’t think about it again unless I show it to a client. Whereupon it comes out just a beautiful and sparkly as the day I put it in the box.
No, I don’t have a maid to do my polishing for me. If I did my house would be a whole lot cleaner!
What I have is a little sachet in my jewelry boxes. Inside each sachet is a little pile of silica crystals. Magic you say? No…The crystals are not some arcane form of jewelry magic, but instead were designed by some anonymous scientist to absorb moisture from their surroundings. When I had more time in my life, I used to dry flowers. The procedure was fairly simple: take a flower, put it in the silica crystals, take it out again when all the moisture was absorbed.
The silica crystals in the sachet actually absorb all the moisture in the box with the jewelry piece, significantly delaying the onset of tarnish. Pretty nifty, huh? The really cool thing is that the crystals are reusable. About once a year, I take out the little satchets, bake them in a toaster oven for about 20 minutes to remove the moisture from them, and then pop them back into their boxes.
Now, this is not a new idea. I am not the genius that came up with this method. This idea has been around a very long time, and there are lots of different products on the market that are designed to do this for you. 3M actually has several different paper strips and blocks that will do the same thing, and nearly every new item you buy has a little stachet marked “Do not eat this” that is filled with a similar product. Now to be sure, this will not take the place of actually hand polishing certain pieces from time to time. Your pieces will still eventually tarnish, but it sure helps cut down on the amount of polishing you have to do in the long run!
In case anyone is curious, I get my silica crystals from a craft supply store, and I pour them in little ready made drawstring favor bags from the wedding/party section of the same store.
So there you have it- straight from the jeweler’s mouth. Don’t submit to unnecessary polishing! Stand tall, and look fearlessly at a future where your jewelry stays beautifully shiny with nearly effortless ease!