Fine jewelry creation and care is a field I never would have imagined researching for a career, but after I found myself nurturing a talent for the creation of memorial jewelry, I found myself diving headfirst into everything that accompanied it. First and foremost, resin jewelry and its care is not information that is commonly known, even those who find themselves in possession of many pieces of fine jewelry, but it is a material that is commonly used not just in the creation of memorial jewelry but in fine jewelry as well. Because resin is the second primary component in the setting of my pieces, I do want to make sure all of the information for its care and preservation are readily available to my clients. Here are some tips and tricks for how to get the most longevity out of your piece, and keep it looking like new throughout all of life’s adventures.
Because resin is technically classified as a plastic, it is slightly porous. The metal that holds your loved one’s ashes setting is a much stronger material than the setting itself, so damage or discoloration most often occurs to the setting before anything would happen to the metal of your piece. When one of my pieces is purchased, I always recommend that it is treated as you would a fine piece of jewelry. Here is a list of things to watch out for:
Avoid storing any piece in direct sunlight. While my pieces are made with a high-grade jewelry resin with UV resistant properties, it still has the potential to yellow when exposed long-term to the sun’s light or heat. This is a slight catch-22, unfortunately, as my pieces look best in natural sunlight and many of my clients do use sunlight when taking their photos for social media or reviews. This is not to say your piece cannot be worn outside, just do not let it sit for prolonged periods of time in direct light.
High heat is the best way to quickly damage resin. High heat from a dryer, jacuzzi, or direct lighting can cause the setting to expand and subsequently detach from the metal. Unfortunately, if a setting becomes detached from a bezel, there is no way for me to reattach it. In this case, the piece would need to be sent back to me with more ashes so that I could reset it.
Sharp or Abrasive Objects
Sharp and abrasive items can scratch the resin; this includes any metal that comes into contact with the setting, including keys or other rings. I do recommend removing any jewelry before doing house or garden work or cleaning as contact with stones, sand, metal sponges, or brushes can scratch the resin’s surface. Knowing this is sometimes unavoidable and that my pieces are ones clients want to wear all the time, I do set each piece with a clear layer of resin to protect the ashes, so even deep scratches and chips cannot damage the precious material underneath.
Fragrances & Harsh Chemicals
The chemicals present in things like lotions, perfumes, shampoos, and soaps can cause the setting to become dull or discolored. I recommend using these items before putting the jewelry on or after taking it off, not while it is being worn. Exercise an extra amount of caution around the more aggressive chemicals: cigarette smoke, cleaning agents, and alcohol-based products such as acetone (nail polish remover) or perfume.
With the current state of affairs regarding COVID-19, many people are seeing increased use of cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer. Because hand sanitizer is an alcohol-based product, it can be extremely harmful to the settings on my pieces. Please exercise the same or increased caution when using this product, either synthetic or organic, and remove your jewelry before using hand sanitizer and replace your piece after the sanitizer has dissipated.
Now that we have gone over what to avoid, here are some tips for the general care and cleaning of a piece of jewelry that contains resin:
To clean or lightly polish the setting without damaging it, I recommend using water and a mild soap, but a little goes a very long way with soap so make sure to limit its use and ensure that the piece is thoroughly rinsed before wearing it again.
Sterling Silver will naturally tarnish over time with regular use because of oxygen and water exposure, as well as one’s personal skin chemistry. You can use a polishing pad or cloth to remove tarnish, or a tarnish removing product, but be sure to avoid the setting when using these items as they can damage the resin. I have found that the more I wear my pieces, the less they tarnish, as your skin does act as a natural polishing agent for the metal to keep it shiny and clean-looking. Contrary to popular belief, 14K Gold can tarnish but only under extreme circumstances. However, this is not something you necessarily need to worry about, as it is very rare. Tarnish does appear less harshly on Gold than Sterling Silver, and usually presents as a darkening of the metal. I do provide anti-tarnish bags and a polishing pad with each piece in every order to help with the care of your special forever piece.
You can store your jewelry in anything from a small bag to a jewelry box as long as whatever container you choose is airtight and stored in a cool, dark, and dry area. I take all of my pieces off when I shower, sleep, and clean, and I store them in their anti-tarnish materials when I am not wearing them for long periods of time, but this is by no means required.
Overall, the treatment of your jewelry from the start of its creation to the presentation and wearing it every day, should be filled with respect, joy, and love. I do everything in my power to exemplify these things in the setting of each and every piece, which is why I use the highest-grade materials for both the casting of the jewelry and creation of the setting. While the utmost care is taken on my end to avoid discoloration, scratching, and tarnishing, once the jewelry is in the hands of my clients it is up to them to see to its care. Please feel free to wear your jewelry every day, and I hope the above information will help you to keep your jewelry looking new and bright throughout all of life’s wonders.