Care & Cleaning: Chainmaille Jewelry with beads, crystals, and glass rings

Some of our most popular jewelry kits (and favorite modern chainmaille projects!) use components such as seed beads, crystals, and glass rings.  The question has come up from a several of our customers, “How do I clean pieces that use delicate components?”  We think this is an excellent question – one everyone might benefit from hearing our answer to.  I posed this question to two of our designers who use these components in their B3 designs as well as their own lines of jewelry.  The following is their expert advice.

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Advice from Kat Wisniewski, designer behind several of our kits including Glass Caterpillar and artists behind Elemental Art Jewelry.

What are the concerns with taking care of pieces that use glass and crystal rings?  Glass is super easy to take care of and can be tumbled over and over again in a small barrel jewelry tumbler.  Crystals that do not have foil backs can be tumbled as well.  If it has a foil back, it will scratch and deteriorate over time, kinda fading in various spots. Lemon juice cleaning may be OK for foil back crystals, but I’ve never tried it.  Lemon juice works great with glass and non-foiled crystals!

What do you recommend when it comes to cleaning these pieces?  I recommend tumbling with burnishing compound and shot over every other possible method.  15-20 min is fine, rinse, dry with blow dryer on cool setting.

What do you recommend to keep these pieces clean to begin with?  Air tight zip locks with Anti- tarnish tabs for each individual item–yes I actually suck the air out!  Then I put items in a larger freezer zip lock and suck all the air out.  Then I put all the items in a box and keep in a cool and dry place.

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Rebeca has started using more crystals in her designs for B3 like Coiled Crystals, Beaded Zig-Zag Byzantine, and Crystal Ring Byzantine.  She adds this bit of advice:

We’ve tumbled plenty of pieces with crystals, and they have been just fine.  However, it would still be possible for a crystal to get hit with a piece of shot in JUST the right spot at just the right (er, wrong) moment, and shatter.   It’s never happened to us, so that should be reassuring to everyone, but still, it is possible.  I recommend not letting the piece get too tarnished to begin with so that the time spent in the tumbler is minimized.  Do maintenance with soap and water as often as possible.

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We hope this is helpful to those of you wondering how to take care of these pieces.  Our FAQ has even more information about taking care of jewelry in general.  If you have created jewelry with these components and have additional advice on their care and cleaning, share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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9 years 4 months ago

Awesome, awesome, awesome!! I just did a few posts on this on my blog – and definitely went with the tumbler and blow dryer as my preferred method. …Definitely have to try to remember to suck all the air out of the storage bags – what a great tip! Thanks!