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Porcelain Jewelry Care Made Easy: The Short and the Long of It

As a kid, I had this fun little toy dog. It wiggled and walked. It barked, and the best thing of all: it would jump and do a flip. It would then wag its tail and start all over. This dog was AWESOME! I dressed it, I “walked” it in the corridor of the apartment building we lived in (much to the “joy” of the neighbours when the barking echoed in the stairwell!), and did the other things you did to care for a dog – like feed it M&M’s (don’t be super judgey here – I was 2 and this was my very first “pet”). Unfortunately, the dog didn’t do so well on an irregular diet of semi-mashed M&M’s. The poor little gal’s jaw got a little gummy, and then she didn’t bark so well. She was still super precious to me, though, and I took her nearly everywhere.

What. On Earth. Does this have to do with jewelry?

Great question! I’d love to tell you!

See, the doggo would have faired much better if I had known how to care for her properly (ie: pups – even mechanical pups - don’t thrive on a candy-coated diet).

We as humans do better when we know how to care for things, and not all things like the same care. Different materials have different needs, and while it can usually be simple, it can also be simply confusing. To help with this, I include a care card with each piece of jewelry you purchase from me(it’s now on the back of the earring or necklace card). I am also going to run through some helpful tips here in this post, in case you have a “human moment” and mislay that care card (I mislaid a whole box of them right before a show once, so there is ZERO judgement from this side of the screen! This is WHY I now print it on the back of the earring and necklace cards, and why I made this post).

Read on for the short and the long of it all (the long has more info and mentions the Cat, but the short will help if you are in a hurry and just need a quick reminder).

The Short:

To clean pieces, simply wipe gently with a soft cloth.

Do not use a sonic jewelry cleaner.

Precious metals polishing cloths can be used on chains and findings to brighten the metals periodically.

Please gently place pieces in a safe place to store them when not wearing.

To prolong the integrity of your pieces, it is not recommended to expose them to water or to wear while sleeping.

That’s it!

The Long:

The biggest thing to note about porcelain accessories, is that the porcelain in the pieces is the same lovely stuff in your fancy porcelain tableware. It is a perplexing balance of strength and delicacy that prefers loving treatment. It likes a nice secure place to rest, like a jewelry box or even a jewelry dish, and genuinely prefers to be gently placed in said box or dish. I get asked at shows “will it break if I drop it?” and my answer is always “it depends.” I’m not being cheeky or wishy-washy, it honestly depends on a lot of factors, including temperature, what you are dropping it onto, from how high, how it hits…and other things I don’t know because I haven’t taken a physics class yet. Ever drop a coffee cup and have it survive, maybe even bounce? Ever drop it again later and have it completely shatter? Same thing here. So, gently tucking it away into a jewelry box is your best bet.

I put many of my pieces on precious metal chains and findings. These can best be cleaned by using a precious metals polishing cloth(I prefer Sunshine brand and will add some to the website soon and let you know). There’s no need for messy cleaning compounds or rough scrub brushes. Just a few easy swipes with the cleaning cloth using a gentle, firm pressure is really all you need. Precious metals oxidize over time (thanks, humidity, sunlight, and air!) and the cleaning cloth simply wipes away that reaction to show the beautiful brilliance beneath.

“Do I use that same Sunshine polishing cloth on the porcelain, too?”

You can if you have one, but don't fret if this isn't an option. For the porcelain, you can simply wipe it with a clean soft cloth before putting it away. You can use the same soft cloth to wipe down pearls, and then touch up the metal holding the pearls with the precious metal polishing cloth if needed.

Please, please PLEASE: do not use a sonic cleaner on your pieces. Similarly, please do not run them through a tumble cleaner. These can mar the surfaces, and - especially in the case of damage to precious metal lustre - I cannot repair this damage. I promise: a soft cloth is all you need for the porcelain and will also work with the pearls. The metals cloth will work on the metal bits.

“Why do you recommend not exposing pieces long-term to water or sleeping in them?” I have friends in the jewelry industry who made great fun about “water-proof” jewelry when they learned some artisans were recommending this. Yes, porcelain IS "waterproof" (which is great, or I’d be wearing my tea right now, which would really annoy Sage, as she’s snoozing in my lap!) It does, however, tend do this fun thing where it expands and shrinks with moisture absorbed(this absorption is also a key reason why you REALLY want your soup bowl to be properly glazed inside, but that's a different conversation). So it's not like a sponge or a shrinky-dink, but very tiny movements. Micro. Over time, this movement combined with active wear can be just enough to loosen the connections where attachment wires have been fired into place. Along with this, some of the adhesives and sealants that can be used in jewelry making really prefer to not be wet frequently or long-term(also like Sage).

I would hate for you to lose an earring down the shower drain or in the pool, or in the ocean because a back came loose or an adhesive gave way. Same thing for a necklace that caught in your hair and then fell to the shower floor or moved into the pool's drain/filter because the clasp stuck or a jump ring stretched. Or it slipped over your head and went out to sea. Bracelets fit in this category, too, as they can slide over the hand if worn loosely.

As for sleeping in them, it’s the same reasons as above, and for larger, more delicate, or sculptural pieces, it would really stink to snap it in your sleep because you rolled over on it. Eef!

Does this sound a little silly? That’s fine. If it helps you decide to keep your jewelry in a safe place when not wearing it, I am totally okay with sounding a little silly (Sage will have you know I sound silly rather often, like when I say “no” to Third Breakfast or tell her to exit the counter – isn’t that silly?!).

So, hopefully these tips help and the feline imagery gave you a smile.

Here’s to happy jewelry and accessories care for a long time to come!

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