ECO FRIENDLY JEWELRY CLEANING TIPS

All of our MGG Studio pieces are designed and handmade to be enjoyed for a lifetime! That said, to keep them looking their best it’s important to have a roster of cleaning and care guidelines at your fingertips. Happily, there’s no need to resort to harsh cleaners or commercial products to take care of your jewelry- you can keep your pieces looking lovely with just a few supplies, most of which you can find right now in your kitchen.

I’ve personally tested each of these techniques with my own jewelry; in fact, my own pieces are the ones pictured! You can be sure that these pieces have been well loved and have definitely seen some tarnish- I wanted to make sure I was conducting a proper test before recommending these tips to you. 

Before we get to the cleaning, though, it’s good to remember that the easiest way to deal with tarnish is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Tarnish happens when your sterling silver, bronze and brass jewelry is exposed to moisture, so keeping your pieces away from moisture is the best way to prevent it.

 

TARNISH PREVENTION TIPS

Follow these guidelines to keep tarnish at bay:

  1. When you’re not wearing your jewelry, store it inside a bag or box (a ziploc bag is not the most elegant storage, but it really keeps the moisture out!).
  2. Avoid storing your jewelry in high moisture areas like the bathroom.
  3. Avoid wearing your jewelry in the swimming pool or the ocean, since chlorine and salt water can definitely promote tarnish (we recommend not wearing your jewelry in the shower either because some city water can be harsh).
  4. Put your jewelry on after moisturizer, perfume, oils, hair products, etc.

That said, we want you to actually WEAR your jewelry, so some tarnish is inevitable and no big deal! If you find that your sterling silver, bronze or brass pieces have tarnished, check out these guidelines below. These guidelines are great for your sterling silver, bronze and brass pieces, whether they are earrings, rings, necklaces or bracelets.


CLEANING TARNISH FROM SILVER, BRONZE and BRASS:

Bronze rings placed on a Sunshine polishing cloth
1. SUNSHINE POLISHING CLOTH: the easiest and most portable way to clean your jewelry, these sunny yellow cloths are embedded with a gentle abrasive to scrub away tarnish. Give your tarnished pieces a nice scrub with a cloth and you’ll see a polished finish emerge (you may need to use a bit of elbow grease to resolve more stubborn tarnish). These are great for travel since they can tuck right into your jewelry roll for on-the-go touch ups, and you can use them until the entire cloth turns black. You can purchase Sunshine cloths in the “Extras” section of mggstudio.com

One note about Sunshine cloths- if you use them to remove tarnish on your pieces with a soft matte finish, they will create more of a polished finish to your piece. You can either re-brush your piece with Scotchbrite (see below) or choose one of the other cleaning methods, such as:

Bronze rings, lemons and coarse salt on a wood countertop

2. LEMON AND SALT: Wow. This is my new favorite way to clean bronze and brass jewelry, and I think it can even work better than a Sunshine cloth! Here’s what you do: cut a lemon in half and sprinkle with coarse salt. Scrub all over your jewelry piece (be gentle with necklace chains). Rinse well with water and dry with a soft cloth, like a clean, old t-shirt. Prepare to be amazed.

3. LEMON and BAKING SODA: lemon and salt didn’t do the trick to remove all the tarnish? Make a paste with lemon juice and baking soda, and give your piece a scrubbing with a toothbrush or other soft brush (again, take care with your necklace chains). Rinse well and dry with a soft cloth.


ANOTHER WAY TO CLEAN STERLING SILVER:

Sterling silver rings, coarse salt and baking soda on a wooden countertop

 

This tried and true way to clean sterling silver involves just baking soda, salt, hot water and aluminum foil. Here’s what you do:

  1. Line a heat-proof glass dish (like Pyrex) with aluminum foil, shiny side up.
  2. Spread your jewelry out on the foil.
  3. Add a healthy spoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt to your container of hot water and stir (it’ll bubble up, so do this step carefully)
  4. Pour this mixture over your jewelry in the Pyrex dish and watch it bubble up. Science!
  5. One the water cools, remove your jewelry, rinse well and pat dry with a soft cloth. Voila!

The cleaning techniques described here are not good to use with jewelry containing soft or porous stones (like turquoise) or jewelry where stones are secured in place with glue or epoxy (like jewelry with pearls). Your best bet for those pieces is to have them professionally cleaned.


CLEANING 14K GOLD FILL:

The 14k gold fill that we use in some of our chains and findings doesn’t tarnish in the way that silver and bronze do, but it can start to look dull from an accumulation of dirt and oils. We recommend wiping down with a soft cloth or giving a gentle bath with warm water and a mild soap.  You can also use a Sunshine cloth on gold fill, but it’s best used gently and sparingly.


RESTORING A MATTE OR POLISHED FINISH:

1. POLISHED FINISH: the lemon/ salt and lemon/ baking soda techniques will remove tarnish, but they won’t polish your piece. That’s good if you’re trying to remove tarnish from a piece with a matte finish because you don’t want to shine it up. But, if you would like to restore some shine to your piece as well, hit it with the Sunshine cloth after removing the tarnish to get a little of that gleam back.

2. MATTE FINISH: We have two different matte finishes on our pieces, the soft matte finish (you’ll find this on the PIRO and PILI rings, CALA cuffs, VERTEX rings) and the stippled matte finish (on the MORO and DEDO rings, OSSA cuffs and NANYA hoops and necklace). The stippled matte finish is more enduring, but the soft matte finish can often get polished off- either in the course of daily wear, or when you're cleaning with a Sunshine cloth. To restore the soft matte finish, try a gentle brushing using a bit of Scotchbrite (the green scrubby pad you can find at the hardware store).


LAST BUT NOT LEAST- A FEW IMPORTANT NOTES! There are a few MGG Studio pieces you should NOT polish: 

  1. oxidized (dark) silver - polishing will remove the dark patina.
  2. Pieces coated with a protective lacquer (like FAO, ELA, TALA, YAYOI, VASO earrings)- polishing will negatively affect the protective lacquer.
  3. Pieces coated with colored resin (like FAO, ELA, TALA, YAYOI, VASO earrings)- polishing may negatively affect the finish of the colored resin.

Of course we’re happy to restore any of the finishes on your MGG Studio jewelry (most times free of charge!). Would you like us to give your jewelry some TLC? Reach out to us here and let us know what you need. We’re always happy to help or to answer any questions you might have!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published