Jewelry containing stones or other materials are best kept dry. Water won’t hurt sterling silver but it may affect the finish of bronze or copper. Going into a natural hot spring or hot tub fed by natural waters may tarnish your silver jewelry, but this is easily remedied with at-home solutions.
Sterling silver, bronze, copper, and gold will stay shiny the longest if you wear it often! Otherwise, for longevity of the shiny finish, keep your jewelry sealed up in plastic bags when not being worn. The oils from your skin will keep the metal bright and being out and about, bumping into things and fabrics regularly, will keep things somewhat polished too. I love a favorite piece of jewelry for the markings and finish that your unique life bring to the surface of the metal.
However, you may want to spruce up your jewelry now and then, especially if you don’t wear it very often. Start by cleaning with warm soapy water using a soft cloth or old toothbrush, a staple in my jewelry shop for cleaning up. The next step is to rub the jewelry firmly but carefully with a non toxic polishing cloth, which you can buy here on this site in the Altar Tools collection. Be careful not to wreck the shape of the ear wire as you polish.
You can also find techniques online involving common household products like baking soda, which are great for deeply tarnished silver jewels. Be warned that if you choose to polish with toothpaste, that it is abrasive, and even though cleaning with toothpaste will definitely remove the tarnish from your jewelry, it may leave it looking somewhat matte. If you want your jewelry to be shiny, it’s best to use a polishing cloth, as long as that may take.
And please consider the environment and your own health when looking at other options. Its not necessary to go and use a harsh chemical solvent, especially if you don’t live on city septic systems where everything you put down the drain ends up in a water treatment plant. We don’t want to be putting chemicals down drain if there is a septic tank in our yard, leaching into the ground and surrounding nature.
Altar Tools Care
Over time, your copper, bronze, and silver altar tools and objects may become dull from atmospheric interactions with the surface of the metal. You can start by cleaning them with a soft cloth and warm soapy water. If you would like a deeper clean on something that has become really tarnished, try one of the methods found online for cleaning up tarnished metal with common household products like baking soda and water. Or if you just want to give your metals a quick shine, rub them firmly with a non-toxic polishing cloth like the ones available on this site in the Altar Tools collection.
If you are using a dish or a bowl for burning offerings, and you would like to clean the surface that has become blackened with soot, especially resinous soot from burning things like frankincense, allow it to soak in a non toxic solvent like Dizzolve, hot soapy water (Dr. Bronners All Purpose Cleaner is great for that), or denatured alcohol for a few hours to loosen up the soot. Then using a small brush or old toothbrush, give the metals a firm soapy brushing in hot water.
If you choose to use something stronger than plastic or natural bristled brush to clean your metal, be aware that it may alter the surface and create marks. Metal bristled brushes, steel wool, and Skotch Brite scrubbers are all great for cleaning metal but they will mark and scratch the finish of the artwork. Skotch Brite will even scratch some glass.