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Topics: Beads, Plated, Tarnish

Q.
I had made 4 dozen "angels" using Delica 11/0 seed beads and had them individually boxed with the prefilled boxes from you over the summer months. I was looking at them now and a lot of them are tarnished especially the gold and silver "wings" on the angels. My instructor had me coat the angels with nail polish to seal the ends of the threads and also to stiffen them ... is there something I can use to clean the tarnish and polish them again? And what should I be using to prevent tarnishing in the future? Thanks! The angels that I have worn all summer are not tarnished and they are out in the open! I am certainly puzzled!
- JoAnn
A.
Your best bet is to polish the tarnished surface with a clean, soft cotton cloth. If your angels are strung on thread, you want to avoid submersion in water or jewelry-cleaning liquids as this can cause the thread to weaken or deteriorate. Do not polish with any cloths impregnated with polishing compounds as they will damage the plating/coating.

Do not store your jewelry in cardboard or paper boxes since they can contain sulfur-producing compounds. These types of boxes are for presentation, not storage, and should always be accompanied by an anti-tarnish paper strip. Store your jewelry in a zip-seal type bag with anti-tarnish paper strips.

Metallic and galvanized seed beads have a coated surface that will wear off with normal use; contact with chemicals and oils; exposure to sunlight; and are also susceptible to tarnishing. To extend the life of the beads finish, use a seal or fixative. Depending on the type of work used to create the seed bead design, it would be advisable to apply the fixative prior to stitching so your piece remains flexible. This method will ensure you do not clog the holes.

Beads can be temporarily strung, a fixative applied and hung to dry. You can use a brush-on formula, such as Mona Lisa™ Metal Leaf™ top coat sealant, or a spray-on option, such as SpectraFix™.

Finished seed bead projects and larger beads can also be sealed. Sealing will help protect the metallic beads against wear, fading and tarnishing, but sunlight is still the enemy so avoid storing or displaying in sunlight. Do not use nail polish as it can yellow with age.

- Michelle Wood, Jewelry-Making Expert

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