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Caring for your Beaded Jewelry

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Right Angle Weave Bracelet

Caring for Beaded Jewelry
Thoughtful and daily care is the best technique for keeping your beaded jewelry scratch free and brilliant looking. 
First rule- Apply your make-up, perfumes, hair spray, lotions, etc. BEFORE you put your beaded jewelry on.
Second rule - Don't wear beaded jewelry in the shower, swimming pool or during housecleaning chores.  Besides the fact you would look like "Leave it to Beaver's" mom -harsh chemicals and cleaning agents can dull or scratch the surface of some beads.
Cleaning your Beaded Jewelry
Most cases, all you need is a clean soft cloth, like a chamois. 
Silver beads can be cleaned up with a silver cloth.  If this is not readily available, you can also use a non abrasive toothpaste.  Rub it on with a damp cloth and then buff.
Gold findings have jewelry cleaning solutions widely available to clean them.  Oily buildup can also be removed from gold with plain rubbing alcohol.
Pearl jewelry can be fragile.  Wash with mild soap and water to remove perfumes, lotion and hair spray.  If your pearl jewelry is splashed with red wine or other disaster, you may need to resort to a product specific for cleaning pearls.
Shells, Wood and other porous surfaces may require some special care.  A soft paintbursh or toothbrush is handy for cleaning dust as well as the dust air canisters like the ones used to clean computer keyboards found at most office supply stores.  An inexpensive alternative for the compressed air is keeping a clean, empty dishwashing liquid container and squeeze it for a burst of air. 
Most other gems- the GIA or Gemological Institute of America recommends cleaning most gems with warm water, a mild soap and a soft brush.  Those pulsing water-dental cleaning appliances and a soft cloth can also be used.  However, this does depend on what the beads are strung on.  If you are cleaning your jewelry in or near the sink, be sure to place a rubber mat or cloth in the bottom of the sink over the drain to avoid loosing any small pieces or parts down the drain.
To keep your beaded jewelry clean between use, remove your jewelry before going to bed and place it in a closed storage container of some kind.  Jewelers recommend storing each item in its own compartment or wrapping them in tissue when putting more than one item in a compartment.

Storing your Beaded Jewelry
Just as you store your finished beaded jewelry pieces in special boxes or compartments, your loose beads should be stored well also.  If you are making beaded jewelry then your probably have a well stocked stash of loose beads and findings.  Storing them well will keep your beads pristine and scratch free.  There are quite a few companies offering purpose built bead storage.
Storing beads in appropriate containers allows similar beads to be stored together.  It keeps the larger, chunky beads from breaking smaller, fragile beads and keeps the smaller beads from scratching the surface of the larger beads.  It is always best, when possible, to store beads so that you can see what is in the container or have it well marked. 
The GIA also says that light and heat can effect gemstones and pearls.  Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also fracture gems.  Your attic or basement may not be the best place to keep your beads based on this.
Some beads are fine to be stored together in quantity while others should be stored separately to avoid surface scratching. 

I hope this article has helped with the care of your beads.  It was adapted from an article in CNA MAgazine, Dec. 2005.  You might be wondering how I store my beads.  I use 2 of the 6 drawer ISIS carts that Office Max carries.  I then keep the beads in containers within that cart, along with all the findings and tools.  I like it because I  can roll it out to the living room where I typically do all my beading and have everything handy.  The drawers are all one size, no deep drawers which, I think, would waste useful space. 
Enjoy your beads and beaded jewelry!

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Articus Studio, 8341 Old Tarlton Pike, Stoutsville, Oh 43154, 740-477-1238