Caring for your Silver Jewelry

The natural oils from your body, as well as the elements, will dull and eventually tarnish your silver jewelry. To keep it looking its best, purchase a jewelers cloth or “Buffy” cloth to wipe the piece before putting it away. Never use silver dips or paste polishes, because they can harm the stone as well as any oxidized parts. One customer put a piece of jewelry she had purchased from us into a silver dip and forgot it for a couple of days. The liquid badly pitted the silver, and we couldn’t repair the damage it caused.

Severely tarnished pieces of silver jewelry can be cleaned with household ammonia and a soft toothbrush. Be sure to rinse it thoroughly afterwords. If there is a stone in it, avoid letting it soak in the ammonia, as some stones can be damaged by long term contact with the ammonia, and many stones in Native American jewelry are cushioned by sawdust underneath. Liquids can eventually cause the sawdust to become wet and swell, thus causing the stone to become loose.

We get many bracelets and watch bracelets brought in for repair. Most often, the problem is stress on the silver caused by stretching it to put it on and then squeezing it to fit. This is reversed when it is taken off and eventually the piece breaks. The proper way to put it on or take it off, is to make sure that you roll it on and off the inside of the arm, just above the wrist, sort of hooking the end under the bone and rolling your wrist toward yourself.

Many stones used in Navajo jewelry such as coral, turquoise and shell are very delicate and fragile. If they break or fall out, be sure to find a qualified jeweler who is familiar with Navajo jewelry to fix it. In order to repair a broken piece of jewelry, all the remaining stones usually must be removed, since the whole piece must be heated in order for it to be soldered. If the stones are heated they will burn or crack. Often when removing old stones, some will crack, chip or break. This is because they have become brittle with age and wear and tear. It may be difficult to find a matching stone to replace a missing or broken one. Often, repairing an old piece of jewelry can be more work, time and expense than making a whole new piece.

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