Tips for Preserving Your Jewelry

I’m excited to have a guest contributor today. Thanks to Emma for the informative article!

Jewelry – we use it to express our individuality, to spice up an ensemble, to demonstrate our love to others and perhaps even to honor our lineage with heirlooms. With how much we love it, it’s surprising how so many of us fail to take proper care of the pieces we hold dear. Regular maintenance is certainly not difficult or time consuming, and it truly is an investment to make sure that the treasures lasts for years to come. Below are some tips to get you started!

The composition of your jewelry is the most important thing to consider when cleaning and storing it. It dictates how often your pieces should be cleaned, and with what. As a general rule, silver and gold can withstand much more abrasive cleaning than gemstones, which require extra special care. All-gold and all-silver pieces can be submerged in water without risk of damage. In contrast, jewelry with gemstones, glued bonds or loosely set stones should never be submerged in cleaning solutions, as they may discolor the material or even cause glue bonds to break. It’s better to be safe than sorry when dealing with family antiques!

First we’ll talk about all-metal pieces made of gold and silver. To clean these materials, there are several equally effective options to choose from–all depending on your personal preference and the type of jewelry you’re cleaning. The first option is jewelry cleaning cloths. These are widely available–they can be purchased online or in jewelry stores for only a few dollars–and do a good job of removing brightening and shining tarnished silver. They are not as useful for cleaning gold, which doesn’t tarnish. Simply use the cloth to buff the piece until it is looking shiny and new. You can use these cloths whenever your silver beings to look a little dingy.

For pieces with harder to reach nooks and crannies, a jewelry dipping solution may be a better bet. For example, Connoisseurs is a well-known commercial jewelry cleaning solution offering several different kinds of products and is widely available online.


If you prefer a more natural method, silver and gold can also be cleaned in a mixture of hot water and baking soda. You can either make an abrasive paste and scrub the jewelry (for tough stains) or soak the piece overnight to see best results. Some people also elect to use toothpaste to clean, as its granules do a great job of removing tarnish. Warning: these methods are not recommended for silver pieces with matte finishes. Matte finishes should only be cleaned with commercial dip–even soft polishing clothes can be too abrasive. It is, however, great for cleaning gold, which reacts well to toothpaste cleaning. Simply apply and scrub with a soft-bristle toothbrush.

No matter your cleaning method, each piece should be thoroughly dried with a soft, clean cloth after washing.

When it comes to cleaning jewelry with gemstones, special considerations must be accounted for. While metals like gold, platinum and stainless steel are mostly immune to daily soap and water exposure (they can usually be worn in the shower), many gemstones–like pearl and amber–should never come into contact with hot water, soaps or chemicals. For these sensitive gems, even perfume and natural body oils can damage the natural luster of the gem. A good rule of thumb for soft gems like pearl and amber is to wipe them down after each use with a soft, clean cloth. Don’t let them get wet. In fact, getting a string of pearls wet can stretch the silk string out! It may sound like a lot of work, but it will pay dividends in preventing your grandmother’s necklace from yellowing over time. For harder gems like diamonds and sapphires, it’s usually safe to clean them with a dipping solution. When in doubt, you can always ask a jeweler; he or she will be able to give you specific advice for the piece you need to care for. Jewelers can also steam clean jewelry (great for diamond rings) for a nominal cost.

Now onto jewelry storage. Ask yourself: does the metal tarnish when exposed to air? Can the gem be scratched if it comes into contact with another? Again, the kind of jewelry dictates how the piece can be stored safely. Silver pieces, which do tarnish when exposed to air, should be kept in plastic bags or airtight spaces to minimize oxidation. And while silver can usually be stored with other silver, it’s a good idea to keep it away from any gemstones so as not to scratch them.

brittany jewelry armoire

Gold can also be kept with other gold as it is less sensitive than gemstones. Keep gold in soft, fabric-lined container for extra protection. Most boxes are perfectly suitable to storing gold pieces, though it’s helpful to look for ones with bountiful compartments to stop pieces from becoming tangled, like the jewelry organizers found here.

Gemstones, on the other hand, should be individually separated. This means that even individual pairs of earring should ideally be kept away from one another–if they are made of particularly sensitive gems. Generally speaking, it should be fine to keep each piece in its own cloth bag or fabric-lined box. For pearls, silk pouches are ideal, as they are very soft and allow plenty of ventilation.

A final note on storing your jewelry: If your gems are strung on silk (as is usually the case with pearls), it is very important that they not be hung. Hanging a string of pearls can stretch the silk and warp the sizing, causing you to have to have the pearls restrung prematurely. While those cute jewelry racks may be a great way to display your favorite pieces, they are really more suitable for costume jewelry, which isn’t as sensitive to these factors.

pearl necklace

And it should go without saying that all jewelry should be stored in dry climates, without constantly fluctuating temperatures. Frequent changes from hot to cold can weaken glue bonds and cause breakage!

There you have it. A guide to caring for and storing your jewelry so that it is preserved for years to come. A little care in this lifetime can make all the difference when it comes time to pass jewelry on to future generations. And remember: when in doubt, see a jeweler!

Extra tips: Don’t experiment with cleaners that “seem” like they will do a good job. Bleach may sound like a great option, but it can permanently discolor your jewelry. And while some jewelry can be boiled in hot water for extra cleaning power, you should never submerge any jewelry with glued bonds into water or cleaning solutions–especially if the water is hot. Instead, apply the solution as needed with a Q-tip, and wipe dry with a soft, clean cloth. One more tip: if you have costume jewelry that leaves a weird stain on your skin (that green hue caused by certain metals), there’s an easy solution. Apply a few thin coats of clear nail polish to the inner side of the jewelry. No more unsightly stains!

Organizing your Baubles!

Jewelry and organizing are two of my favorite things, so I was in heaven working with a client (and very dear friend) in the Santa Barbara area last week. She is combining items from a few households, trying to figure out what to keep and what to purge in every category, including her clothes, bathroom items, and linens, just to name a few. It’s a major project, to say the least! On one particular day, we decided to tackle her fashion jewelry collection.

She had most of her costume jewelry stored in baggies, with some in boxes or little drawers. But due to the move, they were stored all over the house (including under the bed in the guest room), so she wasn’t able to use her jewelry effectively. The first thing I did, after locating all of it, was sort it out by category — bracelets, rings, necklaces, etc. I set them all out on the bed and a folding table, so we could go over each piece, one by one.

sorting jewelry

Phase one...sorting
phase one…sorting

Next, we took each item out to see if it was a keeper or not. Some of the dated gold and silver pieces we set aside to sell for the metal. She’s going to make some major cash selling all this!

gold & silver to sell
gold & silver to sell

We also filled up a whole shopping bag of jewelry to be donated to a local women’s shelter.

for donation
for donation

We were very excited to find some surprises as well, such as a couple diamond necklaces that had been misplaced and a few family heirloom pieces. All of these were tucked away neatly into her safe. With what was left, we then split it all up into what she wanted available to her now (spring/summer jewelry and year-round jewelry) and what would be stored away for the fall/winter season. All the pieces for the next season were stored in individual plastic baggies, so she could easily see what she has. I advised her that when it comes time to switch out her wardrobe for fall, that she should just switch out her jewelry as well.

items to be out for use now
items to be out for use now

fall/winter items to be stored for now
fall/winter items to be stored for now

Now came a hard decision…where were we going to store and display everything? There certainly didn’t seem like there was much room available! We took a close look at this bank of drawers in her closet, which housed mainly lingerie, socks, and some swim wear. With a little weeding and reorganization, we cleared out all the drawers and now had a great space for her jewelry! Plus, the drawers were nice and shallow, which was perfect. As an added bonus, her scarves were folded above this bank of drawers, which would make it very easy to coordinate when accessorizing her outfits.

the future home for her jewelry
the future home for her jewelry

With a couple trips to Bed, Bath and Beyond for acrylic storage containers, we were all set to go!

5 drawers of fabulous-ness!
5 drawers of fabulous-ness!

necklaces were separated by color
necklaces were separated by color


bracelet heaven!
bracelet heaven!

We were both so thrilled with the finished project! Now she knows what she has and where it is, so she can really start wearing her jewels on a regular basis. I think this is a key to all organization — you need to be able to see your things, from clothes to kitchen items. If it’s out of sight, it’s not likely to be used. Keep only what you love and what you use, and find new homes for the rest. I hope this project inspires you to do some purging and reorganizing in your space as well. Have fun!

D.L. Rhein: Creative Jewelry Display!

I love when I can take some time to explore new shops, and it’s even more fun when I’m on vacation. While cruising around different places in Los Angeles, I came across a small store on W. 3rd Street called D.L. Rhein.

Filled with delightful decor objects, heavenly smelling candles, and beautiful scarves, there was more that the eye could take in during just one swing around the place! No surprise, I made a bee-line for the jewelry, which was displayed in such a creative way — on a baker’s rack!

Way to maximize display space!
Way to maximize display space!

Each tray was filled with tiny, white rocks, and the necklaces were carefully laid out on each tray, organized by color. So fun! It was a visual feast.

d.l. rhein jewelry tray

d.l. rhein jewelry tray

It was so easy to pull out each tray to inspect the treasures. I love that whenever you travel, you see things that you’ve never seen before…even a clever way to show jewelry.

Storage Board — So Clever!

So if you haven’t picked up on it by now, I’m a total Pinterest addict. It started with just jewelry boards, including one on jewelry storage, but now I’ve got over 30, on various subjects. But I digress…

I’m always on the search for cool jewelry storage ideas, and I was blown away by this jewelry board that I came across during a Pinterest search!

jewelry storage board

I discovered that Becki is the creator of this awesome design. There’s complete instructions on how to assemble one of your own on her website, Whippy Cake. Personally, I don’t know how she had the time or energy to mastermind this project with three kids aged 5 and under, but kudos! Perhaps it’ll inspire you to create your own jewelry storage system. Let me know what you come up with!!

Storage: The Luxe Life!

I’ve written a couple posts about jewelry storage the past couple years, but lately I’ve come across a few amazing closets while browsing around on Pinterest. I would love to see these spaces in person!

First up is from the closet of Mary Alice Stephenson, a stylist and TV host.

The whole island is for jewelry!
The whole island is for jewelry!

Take a closer look at the pull-out drawer/trays. It’s simply jewelry heaven!

Extremely well-organized
Extremely well-organized

Next is a very cool idea. Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, the founder of the uber-cool site Vivre, has transformed a luxurious bureau into a huge jewelry box!

Luscious color
Luscious color

This last luxe example is more of a mystery. I don’t know who’s closet it’s in, but I wish it were in mine!

The top display case is to-die-for!
The top display case is to-die-for!

While I know that these storage systems are a bit beyond reach…a girl can dream, can’t she?! ūüėČ

Izzy Jewel Box

When Oprah gives her stamp of approval to something, you know it’s bound to be a hit.

You know you've made it if Oprah endorses you!
You know you’ve made it if Oprah endorses you!

Well I can confirm that she was right on the money with these stylish wall-mount jewelry storage boxes by Izzy Jewel Box. I finally got to see them in person at a local art & wine fair, and let me tell you, the booth was brimming with activity! And perhaps it’s time for some new jewelry storage after receiving some special holiday gifts?

Their basic boxes come in three sizes, with a variety of options as far as background color & pattern, as well as layout of the pegs and earring strips.

Example of their medium sized box
example of their medium-sized box

Here’s one of their small earring boxes (holds 24 pair) with a cool multi-colored background.

Love the background!
Love the print!

There are also some that are a bit more grand, such as this beautiful mirrored earring box.

I have a thing for anything mirrored!
I have a thing for anything mirrored!

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can catch them live at a variety of festivals and fairs. But no fear if you’re not — they have a full selection for sale on their website.

Storage: Part Duex

So I know that I’ve already written about jewelry storage in a previous post, but I just HAD to show you another amazingly organized (and large) collection. These photos are from the closet of one of my clients. She travels the world, and has curated one of the coolest jewelry collections that I’ve seen during my many years as a stylist. No, it’s not all fine jewelry, but it’s amazing. I can’t tell you the number of hours we’ve spent “playing” in her jewelry box, accessorizing all her outfits. And I can’t honestly think of one time that she didn’t have just the right piece to finish off an outfit. She certainly gets a big, gold star for the way she has stored her jewelry in both a lovely and user-friendly way.

elfa storage drawers
The main part of her collection is stored in this Elfa drawer tower

elfa drawers
An inside look into some of the drawers

Her necklace collection has grown so large, that she got these great lucite wall mounts to display her most commonly used necklaces.

necklace storage
When you can see it, you'll wear it!

And finally, many of her earrings are now on display on top of the Elfa drawer tower. Great idea!

earring storage
Clever way to display earrings

Yet another client has been building a fabulously cohesive jewelry collection. She had a storage shadow box custom made at the local framing shop. It seriously looks like art hanging in her closet!

jewelry shadow box
Way to highlight your jewels!

She lined the cork board with silk, though using a sturdier fabric, such as linen, may be a better choice if you’re going to move your pins often. My client doesn’t, so the silk worked out perfectly.

I hope these examples inspire you to store and display your jewelry in a new way, if your current system isn’t working for you. Happy organizing!

Storage for Your Bling

I know that you have tried to pull out a necklace to wear and found it in a tangled mess. Or you go to put on a pair of earrings and can only find one of them. ¬†Sounds familiar, right? ¬†If so, then you may need to work a bit on how you store your jewelry. ¬†I’ve got all sorts of tips to help you solve this dilemma.

Using a jewelry box or armoire is an easy solution.  And there are scads of beautiful, yet functional, choices out there!  If your collection is smaller, then consider something like this from  Pottery Barn.

For those with a more substantial collection, I highly recommend an armoire like this one from Ballard Designs. ¬†Note that many armoires only have one or two drawers with built-in sections, so you may need to buy trays for the other drawers. ¬†I’ve had great luck with these from the¬†Container Store.

If you happen to have a free drawer in a dresser or closet, you can easily turn that into your jewelry box by using these same type of trays. ¬†Most closet companies can also build in felt-covered wood or lucite jewelry compartments with sliding trays into your existing cabinetry. ¬†Voila–instant jewelry box!

For those with limited space, these hanging organizers are perfect.

Another idea is to buy decorative wall hooks (you can find many darling ones at Anthropologie) and hang all your jewelry from these.  My dear friend Jen decorated her whole vanity area like this.

Personally, I also like to use some of my jewelry as part of my interior design. ¬†I’ve got some of my favorite sparkly rings displayed in a domed mercury glass pedestal. ¬†I also highlight some of my necklaces and beaded bracelets on a large, antique glass wine jug. ¬†One caveat to displaying jewelry, though, is that it then needs dusting, and it’s more prone to tarnishing if it’s silver and exposed to the air. ¬†To me, it’s worth it just so I can gaze at it when I’m in the room. ¬†Lovely…..

Antique jug used for jewelry display

The most important thing is to have your jewelry neatly stored, yet easy to see. ¬†If you can’t see something, you’ll never wear it–and your jewelry wants to be worn!