It is natural that with time and wear the metal will tarnish and acquire scratches. To protect it avoid contact with abrasive surfaces, sweat, cosmetics or chemicals and proceed, if necessary, to its cleansing with a soft cloth or appropriate product.
Sterling silver corresponds to an alloy composed of 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% copper, which increases its resistance, but also its tendency to tarnish in contact with air. This oxidation process is natural and inevitable, but you can slow it down if you protect your jewelry and keep it separated from each other, if you remove the jewels for hand washing and other tasks, if you prevent its contact with chemicals, cleansing products or other abrasive elements.
BRASS, COPPER AND BRONZE
These metals are much more prone to tarnish than sterling silver and earn over time a patina that gives them a naturally aged air. This effect can actually be considered interesting and even caused on purpose to increase the expressiveness of the piece – however, if you prefer to keep these metals as faithful as possible to its original state, you should clean them with a polishing cloth or appropriate product.
FINISHES: BRUSHED VS POLISHED
As its name indicates, the finish is the final step of the whole process of creating a jewel. Whether glossy or matte, it is natural that the passage of time and the wear makes it less uniform. You can always change it or retrieve it later by simply re-doing the initial procedure – if you wish to do so, ask a professional.
The polished finish is the result of a subsequent series of steps on the piece, which begins to be sanded, then polished with appropriate polish brush and soap and finally brushed with a soft mixture of water and ammonia. To retrieve the state of polished silver pieces you can use a polishing cloth, a suitable product or deliver it to a professional for a more effective result.
Being in direct contact with the skin (like a ring) the natural friction of continuous wear tends to enhance the brightness of the jewel, even if with a brushed finish.
The oxidized finish is a surface treatment caused intentionally by immersing the piece in an appropriate product. To maintain it longer avoid washing the jewels and never rub them. The black patina acquired with oxidation is temporary and becomes less uniform and lighter with time and continuous wear (more rapidly in pieces used in direct contact with the skin such as rings or bracelets) – this natural transformation should not be seen as a flaw, but rather as an integral part of the jewel’s personality.
A plated piece of jewelry was submitted to a superficial treatment to acquire the uniform appearance of another metal – case of the gold plated brass or rhodium plated silver.
All my jewels are gold plated (plaquet) with 1 micron - if you wish a thicker plating it's available upon request and an extra fee.
You can wear your plated jewels normally, but it's convenient to take some extra care to prevent the surface layer to fade. Do not rinse, rub or polish them and avoid contact with abrasive surfaces that, apart from scratching, may make the original underneath metal to appear.
The plating will necessarily fade with time, but continuous wear and direct contact with the skin will contribute to wear the surface treatment, which can be considered a natural and integral part of the piece’s character. If however you want to recover its original appearance, you can easily request this service from a specialist.
Use a soft toothbrush with a little toothpaste to remove stains and recover some of the initial brightness of silver.
To retrieve the brushed finish of a piece you can carefully use an adequate small brass brush, brushing the piece always in the same direction under water - the natural oxidation will be replaced by a soft glow and the piece will recover its life.
But be careful: don't use this methods in pieces treated with oxide or plating, otherwise it will vanish and make sure to take extra care on pieces with stones.
A LAST ADVICE...
Don't forget to wear your unique handmade jewel with pride. Take care of it. Value it. Have fun!
[photo by Mário Brandão]