TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOUR PRECIOUS THINGS…
Here’s the thing…
A few years ago, I was bought a beautiful necklace by my husband, consisting of two silver wire semi-circles with a triple section pendant hanging in the middle – the pendant was three shades of amber – dark toffee colour, olive green and golden honey at the bottom, all mounted and hinged together in silver – gorgeous !! I loved it and wore it many times with several outfits. Then came the day inevitably when the silver surround looked a teensy bit on the tarnished side, so I decided to clean it in the time-honoured way of throwing it in the trusty Silver Dip…
It emerged from its chemical bath in a right old state – the beautiful honey amber was cloudy, and looked like it had several years worth of lime-scale encrusted on it, and the dark green mid-section section looked a mere shadow of its former self. The only bit that was anywhere near OK was the darker toffee-coloured top section which didn’t seem to suffer any damage at all. I was a bit miffed to say the least. Silver is seemingly always used to mount amber in, and quite right too, as it complements it beautifully – so what’s a girl to do ?
A few years later, I acquired several other amber pieces, including another pendant from the market in Krakow, Poland – this one was in two rectangular sections, the bottom one being slightly bigger than the top – amazingly, because I am clearly stupid – I made the same mistake again !! I’d forgotten about the first disaster, mainly because my original pendant was left in the back of my big jewellery box waiting for some miraculous cure, and had thus been dropped from my memory.
Other bits and bobs had also suffered a similar fate when being cleaned – I also had a pair of Indian silver earrings set with tiny, round, rich blue Lapis Lazuli stones, and I had also acquired a pendant with a larger Lapis Lazuli stone in the middle – both pieces of jewellery were now a pale imitation of their former selves – imagine a favourite pair of dark denim jeans after several hundred washes, all faded down to that pale denim colour – well that’s pretty much what these pieces looked like !!
A couple of days ago, I happened across an article on the Internet which suggested that, of all things, toothpaste might be a good thing to try – here’s what happened :-
Here are my two pendants in all their damaged glory – as you can clearly see, the amber is rough-looking with a dull, cloudy patina, and not at all like what it should be !! After a couple of dips in the Silver Dip, this is what happens to porous gemstones like amber – this also applies to Lapis Lazuli, Opals, Coral, Onyx, and possibly some types of Turquoise. They’re all soft and slightly porous gemstones, and very susceptible to damage from chemicals and abrasive cleaners.
So I had a clean and very soft cloth and squirted out a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste and tried it on the smaller pendant first – not a bad result at all. Then I tried it out on the bigger pendant, thinking in for a penny, in for a pound !! Here’s what they looked like after treatment with the toothpaste, and following other care advice, the addition of a tiny amount of olive oil, rubbed in all over and then buffed up with a clean dry cloth…
As you can see, the result is spectacular !! I am so pleased with this – but most importantly, it turns out that while the toothpaste might be a great way to restore amber and other stones like this, you should only try this method on stones that are already damaged, in order to restore their original lustrous finish. For general care, it turns out that actually, the olive oil is the key ingredient here !!
As amber is so porous, the olive oil soaks down into the stone and acts as a bit of a barrier to the drying effect of being soaked in water and/or other chemicals. Generally, it isn’t a great idea anyway, to use any chemicals when wearing amber, or any other soft gems for that matter.
As for the Lapis Lazuli, the result was equally fantastic – here you can judge the results for yourself:-
Before – the stones are the colour of pale washed-out denim:-
Here is the direct comparison – the first photo has one earring treated and the other not, and as you can see the difference is undeniable: –
I love the fact that there is a good solution to this problem – I reckon there are quite a few people out there who have done the same thing as me because they were unaware of the dangers of damaging these stones with silver cleaning chemicals. The best thing is to use a silver-polish impregnated cloth which means you can clean the silver edges and mounts without ruining the amber or other stones that are susceptible.
Please leave a comment if you found this to be useful, as I intend to write little blogs like this from time to time, as and when I discover things that I think are worth passing on !! Therefore any feedback is extremely valuable.