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Topics: Findings, Tarnish, Cleaning and Polishing

Q.
I have trouble with gold/silver filled findings darkening over time. What can I use on them to keep them shiny as if new?
- Shirley
A.
For tarnish, a great way to bring these components back to their shiny best is to use a suitable metal cleaner or polishing cloth. There are liquid dips and polishing cloths charged with abrasives. Your choice depends on the piece to be cleaned and polished. For example, a pearl necklace strung on thread and handknotted should not be dipped in a metal cleaner to clean and polish its tarnished clasp. In this case, a polishing cloth will do far less damage to the strand while at the same time tackle the darkening.

Both gold-filled and silver-filled findings are made up of sheets of gold or silver that are bonded to a core of a base metal (usually brass or copper). You may experience a level of tarnish (darkening) more so with the silver-filled findings than the gold-filled. Perfumes, soaps and other contaminants can darken either metal. Gently wiping down jewelry after it is used is the easiest way to keep metals looking fresh. Storing in tarnish resistant cloth bags or clear plastic bags with tarnish strips keeps the pieces clean for the next use.

Ultrasonic cleaning and steam cleaning machines are professional cleaning systems for fine jewelry but caution should be used when cleaning beaded jewelry for the sake of cleaning the metal components. The beads could be porous stones which would be affected by the chemicals often used with ultrasonic cleaners and the steam of steam cleaners could adversely affect beads that might have glue associated with their makeup. Also, if beaded jewelry is strung on threads, silk, cotton or other natural fibers, wetting or immersing the entire strand might cause the threads to stretch, and the knots (if any) to weaken or have frayed ends.

- Sandra Lupo, Jewelry Designer and Instructor and Swarovski crystal Ambassador

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