This February Harsh and Sweet will exhibit at Jewellery & Watch in Birmingham, the largest jewelry trade show of the UK. Harsh and Sweet will be part of the British Born & Made section dedicated to the best of new British jewelry design.
During Jewellery & Watch, Harsh and Sweet will introduce a new collection that is now receiving its finishing touches as well as two established collections.
Silver jewelry can be difficult, even more so if it's the wire-wrapped kind. This brought me to decide to write about how to store it. Let me explain.
I've been looking for some jewelry in need of cleaning in preparation for the follow-up to last month's blog post. To my great surprise, none of my wire-wrapped jewelry needs cleaning. I'm not complaining - I'm really not - but that made me realize that I should first write about how to keep jewelry in pristine condition. After all, the easiest jewelry to clean is that which doesn't require any cleaning at all!
So, how do you keep your jewelry clean? It's all about storing it in the right way. My choice of the word "storing" is not accidental. I don't keep my jewelry on an open display or a jewelry dish. Dust doesn't do anything good for your jewelry. No matter how clean you home, a small amount of dust is inevitable and it will generate more work for you every time you want to wear something and have to clean it up beforehand.
However, since I really like silver and my favorite jewelry is made out of silver, keeping my jewelry in a closed container allows me first and foremost to protect it from oxidation and tarnishing. If you live in an area with high humidity - and to a certain extent we all do - it is inevitable that at some point you will expose your jewelry to some high humidity if you don't store it in a closed container. I found that out the hard way a few years ago when I left a pair of earrings on a coffee table right underneath a ceiling fan. By the following morning they were black. Metal will always be cooler that other items in your house and act like a magnet for that moisture in the air. Having them in a place where they would become even cooler than usual and oxidize faster contributed to this oxidizing, but this process will take place even if you leave in a more protected part of your home.
So, then, what to do to avoid dust, oxidation and all sorts of other issues? The solution I have been using for a long time is to use a closed container. This doesn't need to be anything fancy - although there are some that are very beautiful for sale out there - but it needs to be a container that can be closed thus shutting out dust and humidity.
The ultimate shape and form of your jewelry box can vary, but it should match the make up of your collection. You have plenty of necklaces and hardly any earrings or rings? A box that will allow you to hang your necklaces would probably be best, followed by one in which you can store each necklace in a small receptacle. On the other hand, if you have plenty of small items like rings and ear cuffs, you might benefit from a number of removable trays that can be filled up with your small jewels.
My final recommendation would be to add to your box a piece of chalk to absorb excess humidity. Before you do that, stuff it into a small jewelry pouch or something equally small to make sure it doesn't leave any dust inside your jewelry box. It will need to be replaced periodically, but your wire-wrapped silver jewelry won't be in danger of oxidizing!
Wire-wrapped jewelry has its fans, and understandably I would add, since this technique allows jewelry makers all over the world to create beautiful pieces in a great variety of styles. However, taking care of wire-wrapped jewelry requires us to take some additional precautions. In this post I will briefly go over "how not to" care for wire-wrapped jewelry in preparation for a later blog post on "how to" do it. Both posts will offer simple and easy-to-follow suggestions and recommendations. They all can be implemented with simple tools and materials, and will make your jewelry ready to wear again in no time. But, first of all...what not to do.
Wrapped wire does not like to be brushed, scrubbed or handled roughly. If you are about to follow the recommendation of anyone who is telling you to use a toothbrush, you may want to hold on for a moment and read to the end. While the parts of your jewelry made with the thickest wire are going to be fine, the wrapping made with the thinnest wire is going to be damaged by any amount of scrubbing. The wrapping will lose its regularity and the wire might even come loose and end up scratching you. Although brushes are fine for other jewelry, they are better avoided when it comes to your wire-wrapped pieces.
Some of the methods most often recommended for cleaning jewelry make use of substances that can leave behind a residue. This will tend to gather in all the nooks and crannies and will need to be rinsed well. This is particularly true of toothpaste, one of the cleaning substances most often recommended for silver. This is a real problem for wire-wrapped jewelry and all the minute spaces between its coils. Toothpaste will deposit itself in the narrow spaces between coils and never come out. As tempting as it may be to use something as readily available as toothpaste, it is really not a good idea.
What to use, then? Before choosing, one needs to take into consideration other factors. Is your jewel made with gemstones or pearls? These can be quite prone to damage from all sorts of substances and need to be handled with care. Pearls are particularly delicate and can be so easily damaged they require a cleaning guide all to themselves. If strong chemical substances are used, the surface of gemstones might end up losing its finish and look dull. As you see, things get complicated. So how do you clean wire-wrapped jewelry?
You know I'm not fond of noxious chemicals, and some of you asked me to elaborate and explain how I manage to avoid using them. I finally have a chance to show you how it's done with a short and sweet tutorial on how to oxidize silver – by using things you probably already have at home.
But first of all, let me explain to you how I ended up oxidizing the earrings in this tutorial, and why. I have some very nice agate beads in a very delicate gray color. It's a beautiful shade of gray, but it doesn't look like much against silver, until the moment the silver is oxidized. At that point the agate stands out much more, and the contrast between the color of the stone and the wire-wrapped frame of the earrings looks really good. As you see from the pictures, the stones are already in place and they can go in with the rest of the earring without any danger.
The earrings I am using in this tutorial are indeed very small, it's not just your impression. I love making small earrings - in fact, small and ultra-light earrings. I have such small earlobes that anything heavier than two grams is a bit too much for me for extended periods of time. However, it's not easy to find earrings that are light and decorated with the gemstones I like. The desire to start making my own earrings was in part what led me to take up jewelry making. It goes without saying that the technique described in this infographic can be scaled to work with much bigger earrings and even with more than one jewelry project at a time.
I hope you'll find it useful, and please, feel free to contact me with any questions!
First things first. The method I am going to describe is not difficult and can be used at home with minor preparation. Chances are you already have everything you need: the silver jewelry you want to oxidize, one or more eggs, and a sealable plastic bag.
After chopping up to pieces your hardboiled egg, place it in a sealable bag with the silver. Make sure the two don't touch as this might result in uneven oxidation.
The sulphur from the yolk will slowly work its magic on the silver. Give it several hours, or leave everything there overnight, and be ready to be amazed by the results.
At this point all is left to do is to get rid of the excess oxidation. Some soap and/or some fine steel wool will work wonders.
It's obviously easier when you do all this before you assemble your pieces, but in a pinch it can be done also after they have been assembled.
You assemble all the pieces, some more polishing and... ta dah!
I love hematite, onyx, and chocolate.