How To Clean Gold And Silver JewelleryTo Keep Its Value
January 29, 2018, John Kelly.
We love antique gold and silver jewellery. There is something about it that spells unique beauty and style. Yet all pieces need a lot of love and care if they are to last forever, but it goes beyond just making sure they look their best. In fact, did you know that your jewellery can significantly lose its value on the open market if not cleaned regularly and properly?
In this post today, we are going to walk you through the best practises when it comes to looking after your gold and silver pieces but more importantly, how to clean your gold and silver jewellery to keep its high value.
Why does antique jewellery appear darker in colour than modern pieces?
Most antique items have a reddish hue to them. You can often spot an old piece of jewellery very easily from its distinctive tone. But, what has happened to make that colour change in the first place?
It is usually down to the settings of the stones themselves. Originally, Copper was used to strengthen gold as gold on its own, is a very soft metal and the only way to ensure it lasted was to strengthen it this way.
It is the copper in jewellery gradually oxidising over time that turns the piece into a reddish-brown tone. But, what happens when antique jewellery goes green? That’s because there is more silver present in the gold than copper. This is more apparent in some eras of jewellery than others.
How to clean and care for your gold items
We already know that gold is a very soft metal when pure and doesn’t wear well if you want to wear it every day. Jewellers discovered this disadvantage with gold a long time ago and have continuously looked at ways to strengthen it ever since.
When cleaning and caring for it, it is best to avoid using any harsh cleaning materials. By this, we mean detergents especially if the item is below 18ct. Anything above 18ct is tough enough to withstand cleaning materials to a point and therefore, easier to keep clean. However, for a lower carat item, it is best to use warm (not hot) water and liquid soap using an old toothbrush to gently clean in between the settings.
For a deeper clean, mix a few drops of the water and liquid soap together and leave the piece in to soak for no more than 15 minutes. Mallams suggests using a ‘rouge-impregnated cloth’ to buff the piece into a high shine on lower carat items.
Looking after silver jewellery
We often associate tarnish with silver items as the brown/black looking deposit that appears on it. The key to keeping your silver at its best condition is to be gentle when it comes to cleaning. Don’t rub too hard with a cloth as this can create corrosion (if present) underneath the tarnish when trying to remove it.
A small amount of white spirit can also help on a soft cloth to help clean the silver on surface tarnish. For more ingrained tarnish, we recommend checking out the Victoria and Albert Museum website for tried and tested methods for looking after your silver which you can find HERE
Storing your silver
When it comes to looking after your silver wear, if you are storing it and not looking to wear it often, avoid the temptation to clean it before putting it away. Having said that, using a silver dip such as Goddards is a good choice for cleaning minor tarnishing although using a soft cloth can bring up silver just as well on its own. You can find it in most hardware shops.
We hope this article has helped you find simple ways to help your gold and silver jewellery clean and maintain its high value.
What to do next
Read the next article in the series: How To Clean Pearls and Gemstones At Home