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Jewellery is an accessory that can transform a boring outfit in to a stylish look and a casual outfit in to a formal look. Costume jewellery is a wonderful choice because of its affordability and availability in a versatile styles.

The most important rule to protect your costume jewellery is to avoid contact with water, moisturizer, hairspray, perfume, makeup or any other harsh chemicals. Jewellery should be always be the last on & first off. Our skin can also transfer moisture, oil or acid on to the jewellery, so it’s always a good habit to wipe jewellery with a dry and soft cloth after every use. Time to time you’ll also need to do a more thorough cleaning of your jewellery pieces.

Even with regular care, metal jewellery can tarnish due to the oxidation or due to the exposure to moisture and oils from your skin. You can buff off minor tarnish to bring back the shine but buffing heavy tarnish may actually damage the plating on your piece. It is important to use the right techniques and cleaning solutions. There are several homemade and environmentally-friendly techniques available to clean various type of jewellery. Here are some of our favorites:

How to clean Brass Jewellery

To clean brass jewellery, dip a soft cloth into a little lemon juice and rub onto the piece in a gentle circular motion. The acidic solution will remove dirt and tarnish, and add some shine to your brass jewellery pieces. Be sure to remove the lemon juice with a damp cloth since allowing the juice to sit on brass too long can actually damage it. Then dry with a soft cloth!

How to clean Copper Jewellery

Lemon juice is a great solution to clean copper jewellery. Take enough lemon juice to cover the surface of your piece and mix with a tablespoon of salt. Soak the piece for 30 to 60 seconds, depending on the amount of tarnish on the piece. The solution will remove dirt and tarnish, and your copper jewellery will look shiny again. Make sure to remove all the acidic lemon juice from the jewellery to protect it from damaging, by rinsing and dry with a soft cloth.

How to clean Silver Jewellery

The purity of the metal, determines how quickly it will tarnish, which is why .925 sterling silver jewellery needs some extra care. Polishing your silver works well when there is minor tarnish or to clean oxidized silver. Always use a microfiber, lint-free flannel, or other soft nonabrasive cloth to polish your pieces as silver can scratch easily. When polishing, use long back-and-forth motions that mirror the grain of the silver. Avoid rubbing in circles, as this will magnify any tiny scratches. Also, change to a different section of your cloth frequently to avoid placing tarnish back on the silver.

For heavier tarnish, try warm water and a mild, ammonia- and phosphate-free dishwashing soap. If that doesn’t do it, make a paste of baking soda and water and use a clean soft cloth to apply a pea-sized amount to the silver and polish, then wash under running warm water, and dry with a clean cloth. For even more intense cleaning, try using baking soda, salt, aluminum foil, and boiling water. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, dull side facing down and place the silver pieces on it. Pour boiling water over the pieces until they are fully covered and then add 2 tbsp. each of baking soda and salt and stir the solution to allow the baking soda to dissolve completely. The chemical reaction of this combination will transfer the tarnish to the foil, and in 5 to 10 minutes the tarnish should disappear.

Interestingly, the best way to prevent tarnish on silver jewellery is to wear your jewellery often. The oils in your skin will actually help “clean” the silver and keep it looking shiny!

Don’t coat your Jewellery

Avoid coating jewellery in any kind of protectant or finish as it can end up damaging the original finish. Some cheaper quality jewellery can turn your skin green; this is a chemical reaction due to a combination of the metal and the acids in your skin. Some people use clear nail polish on the back of such Jewellery to prevent this. However, to avoid this, the best option is to buy fewer but good quality metal jewellery pieces.

Whatever method you choose to use for your jewellery cleaning, first try it in a small area to make sure it is suitable for your jewellery piece.

Always Bag it up

To prevent your jewellery from tangling and getting tarnished or damaged from the elements, store in boxes, wrap in anti-tarnish paper and keep in soft jewellery pouches or use Ziplock bags to reduce exposure to air, that causes oxidation.

And finally, consider buying ethically-made costume jewellery

There are a growing number of ethical fashion designers who are creating jewellery in an ethical manner and/or using eco-friendly and recycled materials. Though these pieces are not as low cost as what is found in fast fashion retailers, if you care for your pieces in the appropriate way, your ethically-made jewellery will last you for years to come.