• Kate Seow

How to Store Your Jewellery

Your jewellery is likely to be one of your most valuable and sentimental possessions and with proper care it can last a lifetime (and longer!) Storing your jewellery carefully plays a big part in helping it stay in the best possible condition.

(Note: I have suggested some products in this article that you might find helpful. I'm not affiliated with these companies/brands in any way and do not earn anything by suggesting them - they are simply products that I personally use and like).

Preventing Tarnish

Sterling silver is known to tarnish over time. This is because sterling silver contains a little copper (7.5% by weight) which makes the silver harder and more durable. The copper (and to a lesser extent, silver) reacts with sulphur-containing gases in the air (mostly hydrogen sulphide) to form copper and silver sulphides which are black. Moisture accelerates the reaction; sweat and oil from skin contact can also cause surface corrosion if left over time.

Tarnished silver spoon - oxides and sulphides have built up on this spoon to give a variety of colours. Whilst desirable in some cases, they can also be unsightly.

In order to prevent tarnish, we need to reduce exposure of silver items to sulphur-containing gases and moisture. Institutions such as the V&A Museum in London keep their silver exhibits in airtight display cases with minimal airflow and adsorbent materials such as silica gel or activated carbon which help to remove moisture and sulphur-containing compounds from the air. Whilst these state-of-the-art display cases are impractical for use at home, a similar environment can be achieved by storing your silver jewellery in a closed box (or even better, an airtight one) and reusing silica gel pouches that come with new handbags, shoes and lateral flow tests. Anti-tarnish strips are available from jewellery suppliers and will help to remove sulphur-containing compounds from the air if placed inside your jewellery box; alternatively, chalk is supposed to have the same effect, but put it in its own cloth bag so that it doesn't make a mess! A word of warning: materials such as paper, card, foam and adhesives may release high levels of sulphur compounds into the air, so be careful when choosing your jewellery box!

Another way to prevent silver jewellery from tarnishing is to wear it regularly - the movement of the jewellery against your skin will prevent any tarnish from building up. However, your jewellery will be more susceptible to knocks and scratches as you will be wearing it more... Whether you wear your jewellery regularly or just occasionally, it will benefit from a gentle wipe clean with a soft jewellery cloth, or even a wash with mild soap and warm water, to remove the sweat and oils that occur even from fingerprints before you put it away.

Jewellery cloths are a quick and easy way of keeping your jewellery clean and free from tarnish. Many cloths are impregnated with a little polish, so don't use them with water or other cleaning/polishing products.

Whilst gold doesn't tarnish, lower carat gold such as 9ct can become discoloured over time if it's not worn. This is again due to other metals such as copper being present; the higher the carat, the less chance there is of discolouration over time. Keep your gold jewellery under the same conditions as silver jewellery certainly won't do it any harm!

Preventing Physical Damage

Whilst tarnish and corrosion are forms of chemical damage, knocks, scratches and breakages are forms of physical damage. The best way to prevent this happening to your jewellery whilst it is being stored is to keep each piece separately from the others - keeping the jewellery in its own box or pouch is an excellent way of achieving this. Alternatively, purpose-built jewellery boxes have a variety of individual compartments and ring storage slots - one of my favourites is the "Stackers" system as it's easy to customise and can grow with your jewellery collection. With all boxes and pouches, choose a material that is soft and won't scratch your precious jewels.

Keeping your jewellery in the box or pouch it arrived in is an excellent way of storing it if you have room. You could store the smaller boxes in one big box or drawer.

A quick note on chain - have you ever noticed how jewellery chains seem to get tangled the second you look away? It's definitely one of my bug-bears! To prevent this from happening, you can wrap your chains around a piece of card with two slots cut into the sides, then wrap the chain around the card and through the slits as many times as you reasonably can.

Although most gemstones are likely to be set in jewellery and are ready to wear, it's possible you have some loose gemstones that have either fallen out of pieces or been collected with the intention of setting at a future date (if this is the case, I may be able to help!) Whilst you are waiting to repair, remodel or design your bespoke piece, it is important to store the gemstones so that they don't get lost or damaged.

Different gemstones have different hardnesses - the Mohs scale of hardness is the most commonly used scale for gemstones and is based on the ability of one mineral to scratch another. Diamond is the hardest known natural substance (Mohs 10) and will scratch all other gemstones, including sapphires and rubies which are generally considered to be very durable (in fact, they are Mohs 9). If you have different types of gemstones rattling around together, some will inevitably scratch others - this is usually most noticeable on the corners and edges of facets. The best way to store loose gemstones in your jewellery box is to wrap larger stones individually in acid-free tissue paper or small zip-loc bags. Multiple smaller stones can be wrapped up together either in acid-free tissue paper or small zip-loc bags.

I hope you've found this article helpful. If you need advice with anything jewellery-related, please get in touch as I love solving sparkly problems! If you enjoyed this and would like more content like this delivered straight to your inbox, you can join my VIP Club here - benefits include exclusive offers, early bird notification and (of course) never missing another post again!

Until next time,

Kate xxx

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