How to Protect and Clean Precious Metal Jewelry and Flatware

With the holidays quickly approaching, it’s time to polish your silverware and your jewelry. With a few easy steps, you can make those precious metals shine, and keep it that way so you won’t have to clean it again next year.
Tarnished Silver Jewelry & Spoons
Tarnish is the enemy of your gold and silver jewelry, flatware and serving pieces. There are many products on the market for removing tarnish, but they typically consist of very toxic ingredients and the fumes can be overwhelming. Fortunately there are safer alternatives. As with most things, prevention is the best initial method.

Tarnish Prevention for Silver, Gold and Plated Jewelry:
Silver & Gold
Most people know silver becomes tarnished, but did you know gold becomes dull and brassy? The best way to keep your jewelry looking its best is by protecting it from the start. When you buy a new piece of jewelry, store it in a jewelry box with an anti-tarnish lining.

3M Anti-Tarnish Sheets and Strips
3M Anti-Tarnish Strips
As an alternative, you can use re-sealable plastic bags and place a piece of anti-tarnish paper inside the bag. Be sure to press the excess air out before closing the zipper. Several companies, such as 3M, make anti-tarnish paper, which comes in 1” squares, strips and sheets. FireMountainGems.com sells jewelry storage bags with anti-tarnish coating inside. Before putting away your jewelry, be sure to wipe gemstone jewelry gently with a soft cloth, and wipe precious metal jewelry with a polishing cloth. (Note: Pearls should not be placed in plastic bags. Wrap them in tissue paper.)

Tarnish Prevention for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Silverware
When not in use, keep your silver flatware in a silver chest and place serving pieces in drawers or a china cabinet with anti-tarnish paper to prevent tarnishing.

Jewelry Cleaning:
Beaded Jewelry
Beaded Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. Do not use any other cleaning methods. Many beaded items include metal accent beads. You may be able to shine them up with a polishing cloth. I find it’s easier to restring the necklace or bracelet with new metal beads, and be sure to keep it in an anti-tarnish jewelry box or bag to keep it shining like new.

Gemstone Jewelry
Gemstone Jewelry: can be wiped gently with a soft cloth only. For a bracelet similar to the one pictured above, you could carefully use a polishing cloth on the edges of the silver, but avoid touching the gemstones. If additional cleaning is required, take it to a jeweler. Caution: Water and or chemical solutions can dissolve or damage many gemstones, including but not limited to opals, Marcasites, and pearls, as well as enamel finishes.

Gold Silver Jewelry
Precious Metal Jewelry: Sterling silver, silver-plated, gold and gold-plated can be cleaned with a polishing cloth.

Polishing Cloth
This polishing cloth has two layers. The white shines and polishes as it removes tarnish. The green layer completes the shining process as it removes polish or tarnish residue.

Tarnish Removal for Silver Flatware and Serving Pieces:
Tarnished Tray & Pitcher
We have all seen heavily tarnished silver items like the ones shown above. Tarnish removal can present a great challenge, but all of that was resolved with the invention of the Speedy Pate shown below.

Tarnish Removing Speedy Plate
Washing Soda Dish & Plate
When it comes to removing tarnish on silver pieces, the Speedy Plate is a lifesaver. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. The process is very simple. You will need the 6”x8” Speedy Plate, a large 9’x13” glass or plastic container, hot water, and Household Washing Soda. Most people use this product with great success. Occasionally reviews say it doesn’t work, but this is most likely a failure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure you buy Washing Soda, which can be purchased at most grocery stores.

Please Note: Washing Soda IS NOT the same as baking soda.

Additional Jewelry Tips:
Shower
Should I wear Jewelry in the Shower?
No. To protect your jewelry, it should be removed before showering. Precious metals, gemstones, and jewelry components can be damaged by exposure to water, hair care products, soaps and body washes. When getting dressed, put your jewelry on last to avoid exposure to cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, and body lotion. The same precautions should be taken before swimming or using sunscreen.

Beach Jewelry
Jewelry and the Beach Don’t mix.
That’s why you see so many people with metal detectors roaming the beaches at the end of the day. Rings can easily slip off of wet fingers. The combination of water, salt, sun, sunscreen, and sand can damage and weather chains and clasps, causing breakage. In most cases you won’t even realize it has fallen off. Your favorite piece of jewelry will inadvertently become someone else’s treasure.

There is so much beauty and artistry to be appreciated in objects made from silver and gold. With the proper care, they will last a lifetime, and can be passed down from one generation to the next.

Happy Crafting!

Gemstone Healing Traditions

Gemstones
Gemstones have been admired throughout history. They have been worn for their beauty, carried for protection, and ground into powder for use as pigments in makeup, dyes, and paints. Gemstones have been used for healing since ancient times. Below is a list of gemstones and their associated healing properties, followed by a list of Birthstones, Zodiac signs, and the Feng Shui Bagua with corresponding gemstones.

Gemstone Healing Properties
Agate – strong healing, good fortune, balances body mind & spirit, calming, nature

Amazonite
Amazonite – calming, improves sleep, intuition, creativity

Amber
Amber – success, decision-making, achievement

Amethyst – calming, protection, restful sleep, self-confidence, intuition, meditation
Apatite – intuition, meditation, energy
Aquamarine – balances body mind & spirit, nature, water, calming, purifies body

Aventurine
Aventurine – balance, optimism, relaxation, purifies mind, nature

Azurite & Malachite – stress relief, intuition, creativity, heaven & earth, energy
Bloodstone – healing, energizes, purifies, strengthens heart
Calcite – mind, body, & spirit, nature, energy, harmony, healing

Carnelian
Carnelian – creativity, energy, protection

Chrysocolla – balance, stress reduction, intuition, calming, heaven & earth

Citrine
Citrine – abundance, confidence, hope, energy

Diamond – abundance, clarity, fidelity, deflects negativity
Emerald – dreams, healing, balance, protection traveling, prosperity

Fluorite
Fluorite – healing, concentration, grounding

Garnet – passion, remove negativity, hope, purifies
Jade – prosperity, dreams, healing

Picture Jasper
Jasper – balance, healing, attaining goals, nature, nurturing, relieves stress

Kyanite – optimism, healing, creativity, loyalty

Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli – intuition, balance, inspiration, protection, creativity

Malachite – healing, abundance, relationships, dreams, reduces stress
Moonstone – fortune, protection for traveling, compassion, female power

Mother of Pearl
Mother of Pearl – female power, nurturing, motherhood

Nephrite – creativity, protection, attain goals, dreams
Onyx – intuition, dreams, protection, achievement, endurance
Opal – balance, harmony, spirituality

Pearls
Pearl – female power, truth, heaven
Peridot – prosperity, harmony, relationships, intuition

Clear Quartz
Quartz – spirituality, harmony, creativity, prosperity

Ruby – love, self-awareness, renewal, spirituality
Sapphire – clarity, intuition, protection, soul mate love, fidelity, meditation

Snowflake Obsidian
Snowflake Obsidian – balance, concentration, repels negativity

Sodalite – delegation, intuition, creativity, calming, protection
Sugilite – calming, healing, reduces stress, spirituality

Tigerseye
Tiger’s Eye – confidence, healing, concentration, grounding

Topaz – creativity, self-expression, spirituality, renewal
Tourmaline – healing, spirituality, energy, renewal, protection

Turquoise
Turquoise – protection for traveling, strengthens, verbal communication

Unakite – feminine, abundance, harmony

Birthstones
Birthstones

Signs of the Zodiac
Zodiac

Feng Shui Bagua with Gemstones
Bagua

Mother Nature has produced a remarkable collection of gemstones. Cultures around the world have created and shared their gemstones traditions throughout the ages, and will continue to do so in the future. Each stone has a unique story. When choosing a gemstone, hold it in your hand and ask yourself: How does this gemstone make me feel? If your answer is “empowered,” “inspired,” and “amazing” – you have found the perfect match. Wear it in good health!

Happy Crafting!

Mother of Pearl – A Gift from the Sea

Mollusk
Mother of Pearl comes from mollusks, and is naturally a blend of tan, cream and white, with an iridescent finish. It can be bleached white, or dyed and color of the rainbow. Mother of Pearl beads come in an amazing range of shapes and sizes, while the thicker pieces are carved into cameos and pins, or cut into squares as mosaic tiles. Let’s turn a few round beads into a lovely pair of earrings.

How to Make Natural Mother of Pearl Cluster Earrings
Mother of Pearl Earrings

These 1-1/2” long Natural Mother of Pearl earrings swing and shift with your movements, and they’re a neutral color, which coordinates with whatever you’re wearing. In this design, five beads orbit around a dangling two bead central core. These earrings are a little challenging in Step 6. At times you may feel like you have fumble fingers. If you are looking for an easy pair of earring for beginners, please click here.

Required Beads & Findings:
MoP Earring Supplies

Supplies:
To make this pair of earrings you will need:
12) Silver plated Head Pins – 1” length,
14) 7-7.5mm round Natural Mother of Pearl beads,
2) Silver plated Surgical Steel Fishhook Earwires with ball & coil

(Please note: Head pins are the foundation of these earrings. They are inexpensive and come in big packages. Be sure to have several on hand just in case. Craft stores carry jewelry making supplies, including beads, accents, and tools. If you get hooked on jewelry making and yearn for the ultimate selections, look no further than FireMountainGems.com)

Required Jewelry Making Tools:
Round Nose Pliers
Round Nose Pliers – the smooth, round tips on these pliers make it easy and safe to manipulate wire, pins, and small jewelry metal pieces known as findings. Please don’t use standard pliers, which have teeth that will damage delicate precious metals.

Jewelry Wire Cutters
Jewelry Wire Cutters – a sharp pair of wire cutters makes jewelry making so much easier. Do not use them for other crafts, such as floral arranging, which can damage the blades.

Earring Making Instructions:
Beads on Head Pins
Step 1: Slide the beads onto head pins as shown.

Grasp Head Pin with Pliers
Step 2: With the round nose pliers in your right hand, grip the wire just above the Mother of Pearl bead. Hold the pliers in this position for the next step.

Bend Head Pin
Step 3: Grasp the end of the head pin with your left thumb and index finger, and bend the wire toward you. Continue bending the pin over the tip of the pliers until it touches the Mother of Pearl bead.

Beads with Partial Loops
The reshaped pins will look like the photo above.

Cut Excess Pin Length
Step 4: Cut off the excess wire. Leave enough wire to form a small loop above the bead. This may take a few tries. Don’t worry if you cut it too short. Simply use a new head pin and repeat the steps.

Beads with Trimmed Pins
This photo shows the beads with trimmed pins.

Attach Earwire
Step 5: Hook the double bead pin onto the loop on the bottom of the fishhook earwire, and close the loop using the round nose pliers.

Core Beads Attached
The earring will look like the above photo.

Close the Loop
Step 6: Attach the first “satellite” bead to the earwire in the same way.

First Bead Attached
The earring now has a center core and one satellite bead. Repeat this step for the remaining four beads. If you have trouble getting the beads to lay correctly, remove the dangling two bead central core. Shift the five satellite beads with your fingers until they form a circle around the earwire, and then reattach the two bead central core.

Finished Earrings
Congratulations! You have successfully made a pair of Mother of Pearl cluster earrings.

Black Onyx Version
Here’s the same pair of earring made with Black Onyx beads. Note how the color dramatically changes the look. You could also experiment with different gemstones, glass or wood beads.

Jewelry making is a great way to explore your creativity. There are so many options available that it’s hard to choose. After making several items for yourself, keep in mind that people love receiving jewelry as gifts.

Good Luck & Happy Crafting!