Sparkle Plenty: Helpful tips for cleaning & caring for your jewelry

If you’re anything like us at Blue Door Beads, you always want your jewelry to look its best. Sometimes that means giving your favorite pieces some much-needed TLC, either in the form of cleaning or polishing your jewelry, or — at the very least — storing it properly. Below are some DIY methods for cleaning various types of jewelry, as well as some of our favorite jewelry storage ideas. Enjoy!

Jewelry cleaning disclaimer: Always take any pieces you are unsure of to a jewelry expert first. Also, please read the recommendations carefully, because certain methods should not be used on certain types of jewelry.

For sterling silver jewelry with no stones or beads:
Make a small bowl out of aluminum foil (shiny side up) and lay out silver jewelry on the foil. Sprinkle about 1 tbsp baking soda on top of the item(s), then pour approximately 2 cups of boiling water over the baking soda. Move the jewelry around slightly to release any dirt. Let the piece(s) soak for about 10 minutes, then rinse with cold water and dry with a soft cloth.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.25.40 PMFor solid gold jewelry with no stones or beads:

Pour a small amount of light beer (Budweiser, Corona, Heineken, etc.) on a non-abrasive cloth and gently rub where dirt/tarnish is obvious. Wipe off any moisture with a dry, soft cloth. The beer’s natural acids help bring back the shine — who knew?



For costume jewelry (or any other jewelry that is made of unknown metal):

DO NOT submerge the jewelry in water; depending on the metal your jewelry is made of, this could seriously damage your piece. So when in doubt, don’t!

• For rhinestones, spray a little Windex on a soft cloth (never directly on the stone), and then gently wipe clean.

• For any painted jewelry, spray a little vinegar on a soft cloth. It’s less abrasive than the Windex used for rhinestones, so it won’t remove the paint.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 4.53.33 PM• Do you see green spots on the clip components of your earrings, on the pin backs of your vintage brooches, etc.? That’s verdigris, which is a green or bluish deposit formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces that have been exposed to continuous humidity and/or sea air. If you see this on your jewelry, make sure that you get the “infected” pieces away from everything else in your collection before it spreads to your other pieces. Brass and copper are especially susceptible, especially if they’re unfinished or sealant-free.

To remove existing verdigris, soak a paper towel or cotton pad in vinegar and simply wrap the clip/pin the brooch around it. Let the item sit for at least 15 minutes, then wipe off the green spots. Vinegar-soaked Q-tips can help you get the hard-to-reach parts.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 3.23.34 PMOne safe method to spruce up any kind of jewelry (including pieces with pearls, gemstones, or any other delicate element or embellishment) is to polish it with a polishing cloth, such as a Sunshine Polishing Cloth (available at Blue Door Beads!) Gentle on all metals and stones, polishing cloths like this can be used repeatedly until they’re worn to shreds. You may have to use some serious elbow grease to see results, and not all metals may end up shining up like they were when they were new, but it’s worth a shot!

One cleaning material NOT to use on any type of jewelry: toothpaste. Many folks incorrectly use toothpaste as a way to clean tarnished jewelry. However handy it may be, jewelry experts say that toothpaste should NOT be used to clean jewelry because it contains ingredients that are very abrasive. This is especially true of silver-plated items, because the toothpaste can damage the silver plating and expose the other metal underneath, leading to eventual corrosion.

How to store your jewelry:

• Keep all of your jewelry in a dry, safe place such as a fabric-lined jewelry box. DO NOT store your jewelry in Ziploc bags, since those hold moisture. Opt instead for some soft-lined bags for transporting your baubles.

• To minimize tarnishing, include anti-tarnish papers to the container you plan to store your jewelry in, or keep jewelry in anti-tarnish cloth pouches.

Screen Shot 2015-03-24 at 5.24.44 PMIf you live in a somewhat dry environment, or if you don’t mind cleaning your jewelry fairly frequently, you can store your jewelry on an open-air display, like some of the displays below. At the very least, you should store your necklaces and bracelets individually and/or hanging up so that don’t get tangled up with one another. Our recommendation: splurge on a nice jewelry box or jewelry armoire with lots of storage space, including hooks for hanging!

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about how to care for your jewelry, and we’re sure you will now enjoy your sparkling jewelry for many more years to come!

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Thanks to the following websites for their helpful jewelry cleaning & storage tips!

Aluminum foil & baking soda photo found on Pinterest (no source given).
Polishing cloth photo courtesy of

Beer photo courtesy of
Verdigris photo courtesy of
Jewelry armoire photo courtesy of
Jewelry rack displays for sale through fairlywell on Etsy.
DIY picture frame jewelry display idea courtesy of


Vote for Blue Door Beads for Best Craft Store in 2015!

beads_in_dishBlue Door Beads has been nominated by Oakland Magazine for Best Craft Store of the East Bay for 2015!

Please take a moment to vote for us, and for other East Bay/Piedmont Avenue businesses you know and love!

You can vote multiple times from different IP addresses (home, phone, work, etc.), and feel free to spread the love to other businesses — such as Resurrect (Best Women’s Clothing), Mercy Vintage (Best Consignment), Wine on Piedmont (Best Wine Store), and Nathan & Co. (Best Gifts). Thanks for your support, and thanks for shopping small and shopping local!

Learning the Language – Part 4: Specialty Tools of the Trade

Our last Learning the Language blog post covered the absolutely essential tools of jewelry-making. This week, we would like to cover some of our favorite specialty tools — that is, tools you may not need for every project, but ones that truly come in handy for a variety of jewelry designs.

flat_nose_eurotoolFlat Nose Pliers
When it comes to opening jump rings with ease, nothing beats a good, sturdy pair of flat nose pliers, especially ones with ergonomic handles. If you’ve ever had the little rings “jump” from your hands, it may be due to the fact that you don’t have a good grip on them. Flat nose pliers’ tips have a broader surface area than chain nose pliers, which make holding onto tiny things a bit easier. And, if you create chain maille jewelry, the combination of broader-nose pliers and ergonomic handles means you can work on projects twice as long without hand fatigue.
Uses: opening and closing jump rings, holding other items steady.


Nylon Jaw Pliers
We’re all guilty of letting our wire-by-the-spool or by-the-coil get a little unruly in our bead box, and this can sometimes result in a big, tangled-up mess of wire. Although nylon jaw pliers can’t help with severely kinked wire (that wire is pretty much a lost cause), they can help with wire that’s just a little bit bent. Simply hold one end of the wire between your thumb and forefinger, clamp the jaws of the pliers onto the wire with your other hand, and slowly draw the pliers down the length of the wire, and voilà — instantly smoothed-out wire! It’s OK if you have to do this twice, but beware of continuing to pull, pull, pull….the more times you smooth out the wire, the more you are hardening the wire, and the more brittle it becomes.
Uses: smoothing out wire, holding items steady without marring metal.

wubber_ringsthingsWubbers/Bail-Making Pliers
If you have ever wanted to create larger curves or bends in wire, and wanted the shapes to be consistent each time, we highly recommend either a pair of Wubbers, a pair of bail-making pliers, or both! Wubbers essentially serve the same purpose as bail-making pliers, but their jaw diameters come in a wider range of sizes and shapes (see above photo). Mandrels are helpful, too, but both Wubbers and bail-making pliers are typically easier to manipulate since they have handles. Keep in mind that ring mandrels and many bracelet mandrels are tapered, so creating a coil will result in one end being wider than the other. If you use Wubbers or other un-tapered pliers, you won’t have this problem.

Here's an example of U-shaped components created using Wubbers. Earrings designed and created by Lydia Chapman.

Here’s an example of U-shaped components created using Wubbers. Earrings designed and created by Lydia Chapman.

These helpful tools are great for creating hoop earring findings, links for handmade chain, and much more! Check out this helpful tutorial from Rings & Things.
Uses: creating uniformly-shaped bends & loops, creating handmade findings.

bent_nose_eurotoolBent Nose Pliers
These can be used in much the same ways that chain nose pliers can be used, but since they have a slight angle to them, the pliers’ “elbow” has a broad surface area similar to flat nose pliers. The bent tip allows you to navigate tight nooks and crannies (say, within a very tight chain maille weave), and their smooth jaws will minimize how much you might dent your wire. Uses: holding items, opening and closing jump rings, tucking in wire ends, accessing hard-to-reach spots.

artfire_comHole-Punching Pliers or Screw-Down Hole Punch
These tools are pretty self-explanatory, but they are perfect when it comes to punching holes in metal! The pliers work best on sheet metal up to 24 gauge, and the screw-down punch works best on metal up to 16 gauge, including the thicker-gauge fine silver wire that Iris Sandkühler uses in her fusing classes here at Blue Door Beads.
ahbeads_comDo not try to punch through anything too thick for your tool because your are liable to a) break the tool and b) hurt your hand. Punching additional holes in metal is really handy when you want to make earrings with multiple dangles, change a charm into a link for a necklace or bracelet, or create a riveted look for a pendant.
Uses: adding holes to metal blanks and charms to add dangles, charms, or rivets.


The holes that connect the brass blanks to the copper blanks (with the rivets) were created using the hole-punching pliers. Earrings designed and created by Briana Oliver.

The holes that connect the brass blanks to the copper blanks (with the rivets) were created using the hole-punching pliers. Earrings designed and created by Briana Oliver.

Are there more specialty tools you would like to know more about that we didn’t talk about here? Please email with your questions and we’ll do our best to provide answers. In the mean time, have fun playing with your new tools, and bead boldly!

Flat nose pliers photo courtesy of EuroTool.
Nylon jaw pliers photo courtesy of The Bead Smith. Nylon jaw pliers with wire photo courtesy of Rings & Things.
Wubbers photo courtesy of Rings & Things.
Bent nose pliers photo courtesy of EuroTool.
Hole-punching pliers photo courtesy of EuroTool. Screw-punch photo courtesy of