Cleaning Wire-Wrapped Jewelry

Whether you’ve been wearing your wire-wrapped jewelry frequently or keeping it stored away, it will have accumulated particles from the surrounding environment – dirt, stray dust, skin oils, grime – stuck in the tiny crevices between the wound wire and gemstones. If your jewelry is silver, perhaps it has also acquired a grey dark tarnish. How ever will you get into those small spaces to bring your beloved pieces to an “as new” condition?!

Despair not. There are a number of tried methods available to you.

  1. Steps for cleaning jewelry:
    1. Get to a sink; cover the drain, lest your jewelry fall into it.
    2. Turn the tap on at a gentle warm stream.
    3. Using hand soap or mild dish detergent, rub gently using your fingers all over the piece.
    4. Take an artist’s brush or an old soft toothbrush (the kind you would use for super sensitive gums), and using soft circular motions go over the details of the piece. Use the pressure from the water tap to remove any pesky particles.
    5. Rinse completely. Let completely dry on a paper towel or similar water absorbing material.
  2. Recipe to remove tarnish from silver:
    1. How and Why this works: http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/homeexpts/tarnish.html
  3. A word of warning about commercially available jewelry cleaning solutions:
    1. JewelBrite is a recommended cleaner that is said to be safe with most gemstones. I have not used it myself, but have heard good things from blogs of other jewelry designers.
    2. Delicate/Pearl Cleaners: most consist of diluted soap and are safe for most gemstones and metals.
    3. General Cleaner (for gemstones, gold and silver): Use with Caution! Many of these contain ammonia, which can interact unfavorably with treated gemstones (reacting with dyes and worsening natural inclusions within the stone);
    4. Silver Cleaner: Use ONLY as a last resort! These are typically highly acidic and corrosive, and can damage treated gemstones and many un-enhanced gemstones.
      1. For silver only jewelry, these work effectively – a second worth of dip in the solution, and the tarnish is off completely. I believe, however, that they remove the layer of silver that was tarnished, and overtime can wear away the metal of the piece to a breakable thinness.
    5. For my experimentation stories with various cleaning agents, check out blog posts under the Maintenance tag.
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