Learning how to store jewelry is a skill that will save you time, money, and heartache. Fragile stones and metals need to be protected so they remain undamaged. Regardless of the worth of a piece, neatly storing all of your jewelry makes it much easier to remember what you own and to quickly find it when you need it. Here are tips on storing gems, metals, antique jewels, and everyday costume pieces.
How to Store Gemstone Jewelry
Many gems scratch easily, ether by other metals and tough gems, or by hard and unforgiving storage containers. Pieces with gemstones should be stored separately so they can’t knock into each other and become damaged.
In addition to placing them in separate boxes or compartments, wrap gemstone jewelry in fabric or kept in their original pouches. In particular, diamonds do not play nicely with others, and pearls are particularly vulnerable. Here are a few key tips on how to handle and store gemstones:
- Keep gemstones out of direct light to avoid fading; for example, opals are very sensitive to light and it will cause hazing on the gem.
- Keep pearls and emeralds, in particular, away from any heat sources.
- Separate soft stones such as lapis lazuli, malachite, turquoise, amber, and opals from one another—sharp or pointy objects can easily damage them.
Lock It Up
Store anything extremely valuable (monetary or sentimental value) in a concealed locked box. A safe deposit box brings peace of mind, too.
How to Store Gold Jewelry
There are many different types of gold when it comes to jewelry. You'll find white gold, yellow gold, and rose gold in addition to the number of karats found in solid gold (from 9K to 24K). The karat count in solid-gold jewelry is the amount of pure gold used with an alloy in the jewelry. Karats affect the jewelry's value, durability, and softness (the higher the karat in the composition of the gold, the softer and more expensive the jewelry). Costume pieces are often made from a thin layer of gold, known as gold-plated jewelry.
- Avoid storing any gold jewelry in a room with extreme temperature swings.
- Opt to store gold in a room with low humidity which will reduce tarnishing and discoloration.
- Note that 14K and 18K gold jewelry is popular; 18K gold jewelry is more vulnerable, slightly softer, and bends a bit easier than 14K gold.
- Keep gold chain necklaces and bracelets apart so they don't tangle; it's best to store them in the bag or box in which they came.
How to Store Silver Jewelry
There are numerous types of silver jewelry and it's not always sterling, for example. Silver for jewelry has varying grades and new non-tarnishing alloys on the market. Costume jewelry often comes as silver-plated brass, for example. Nevertheless, silver jewelry is known for its ability to deeply and quickly tarnish.
It's disheartening to open up a container to find tarnished silver jewelry. But it can be reduced by correct storage methods.
- Store silver jewelry of any grade in a cool, dry place.
- Put silver jewelry of any grade in a tarnish-preventive bag.
- Wrap silver jewelry of any grade in a soft piece of felt or cloth as an alternative to a bag.
- Avoid exposing silver to tarnish-producing air and light when storing.
- Only use a polishing cloth or fine piece of felt to handle or rub silver jewelry (even silver plating tarnishes and wears off when mishandled).
How to Store Antique Jewelry
Each piece of antique and heirloom jewelry needs to be stored separately so sharp edges, metals, and gems don't come into contact. Plenty of products can keep antique jewels in top shape so you can hand them down through the generations, such as vintage engagement and wedding rings. Items that protect metals, such as sterling silver, gold, copper, bronze, tin, brass, magnesium, and even iron and steel from tarnish and corrosion may include:
- Anti-tarnish tabs or jeweler's tissue that can be placed in a storage container with the jewelry
- Anti-corrosion, anti-tarnish, and non-toxic press seal bags
- Soft velvet pouches or cotton-lined boxes stored in a secure jewelry box
An ultrasonic cleaner (also known as a jewelry bath) works well for jewelry with the exception of antique pieces. Don't clean heirloom pieces this way. The pulsating action could loosen settings or damage antique finishes.
How to Store Costume Jewelry
Keep costume jewelry in containers away from fine or real silver jewelry to avoid accelerated tarnishing (this can happen when the two types of metals accidentally interact). Then, have fun displaying your costume jewelry. Hang chunky necklaces over doorknobs, stick brooches into bulletin boards, slip pendants over hooks, and store bangles and rings in recycled toolboxes and vintage tins.
Cleaning Dirty Costume Pieces
Even dirty costume jewelry deserves a good cleaning otherwise it can tarnish quickly. Here's how:
- Line a plate with aluminum foil, shiny side up, and put jewelry in the dish.
- Mix a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of baking soda with a cup of warm water.
- Pour the mixture into the dish—you'll see a bubbling action as the jewelry cleans.
- Rinse with cool water then dry with a clean cloth.