November 12, 2018

My team and I get this question a lot, so I wanted to jot a few notes down here so your CMD jewelry stays fresh for years to come 

If you’ve purchased any CMD pieces from any of the main collections I’ve released over the past few years, you probably have yourself a sterling silver or 14k gold-filled piece. That is, unless you’ve opted to have the style be made in solid gold (which is always an option) or you’ve bought, or been gifted a piece in my special occasion line, which will be hardier and can be worn beautifully over a lifetime. Read my recent post, The case for solid to learn more on when and why to opt for solid.

True 14k gold-fill is a wonderful material. It’s hypoallergenic, wears and looks like solid gold, because it’s actually a thick layer of the real good stuff bonded to a base metal (brass, no nickel, in our case). However, it won’t truly last forever. It does wear over time, especially if it is well-worn and loved.

I love how my customers make each piece their own, integrating the design into their own style and essence, often in ways that I never even imagined while designing. That part of my work is what inspires me the most. It can be hard to part ways with a piece even for a short while when it becomes a seamlessly natural extension of your own style and personal expression. However, the truth is, the less you can do to wear the surface off, the longer a gold-fill piece will last.

Oxidation will lighten as you wear it and any friction or exposure to chemical products is going to wear it faster. I don’t personally recommend sleeping or showering in gold-filled or oxidized jewelry, but in most cases it won’t present an immediate problem. You could shower with your jewelry on, from time to time – especially a non-oxidized piece, but always remember that there are chemicals in your hair and soap products that can and will degrade your jewelry faster. It’s often just not worth the risk. I would highly recommend NOT sleeping in a necklace, as our chains are a bit more delicate than the actual pendant pieces. Also, keep in mind that discoloration and degradation occur at faster or slower rates depending on your own skin’s chemical makeup, so to be safe it’s good to give your piece a rest overnight and while you’re washing your hair or the dishes.

If you have a solid piece, the subtle degradation over time won’t be as apparent, but even still you are removing tiny layers over time with love and wear. But luckily, if and when something reacts with your solid gold piece, you can simply polish it!

To keep your jewelry sparkly:

  • First things first – clean your jewelry periodically, but don’t obsess and clean it every day.
  • Don’t expose the piece to super harsh chemicals. Bleach can actually make silver black, and with gold-fill any harsh chemical can eat away the surface layers quickly.
  • There are all kinds of tarnish removal on the market. With most, your piece will experience quicker degradation. You *can* use them, but use them sparingly. Also, follow the directions. Don’t leave a piece in a solution longer because you think it will work better – you’ll regret it. Remember, tarnish removal is corrosive in nature.
  • With 14k gold-fill, just find yourself a good polishing cloth – we use Sunshine Cloths in our studio. This is likely all you need.
  • You can try using plain ol’ dish soap (I love the brand Dawn) and water to remove the inevitable dirt and grime that builds up on well-loved pieces.
  • Toothpaste works too! It usually has a subtle whitening agent and a slightly gritty texture that cleans well.

Did this help? Let me know!

Colleen's Signature

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