The Straight Forward Guide to Taking Care of and Cleaning Your Jewelry

Working with women from 9 different countries, our jewelry is made from many different materials, using many different techniques, and therefore there are different ways to care for it.  While we'd love to say "nothing will tarnish ever!," that just isn't the case, and if someone is telling you it is, they might not be telling it to you straight. So, that's what we're here for-- breaking down how to care for different kinds of jewelry (Fair Anita or otherwise!), because sustainable fashion is wonderful, but making pieces last is a must if we're really talking sustainability.

Silver-plated or brass-plated jewelry

Description: This is the most common type of jewelry, called "costume jewelry" but the industry, though we like to think our jewelry isn't too costume-y.  What this means if that a base metal (often an iron or copper) is electro-plated with silver or brass, changing the color of the jewelry entirely.  A lot of our jewelry at Fair Anita is made this way, as our artisan partners are using recycled metals, and the electro-plating process allows them to turn that recycled base metal into a color that y'all would be more excited about. 

Care: Metals react with the pH of everyone's skin differently, so (unfortunately) care looks different for each person. The same necklace I wear everyday may never tarnish, whereas my friend could wear it and two days in it's a different color. If you've noticed that jewelry changes color quickly for you, the #1 thing you can do is not wear it in extreme heat or in contact with water. This is not the kind of jewelry to wear in the shower or to your pool party!

Recommendations: Plated jewelry are some of my favorite pieces, as they tend to be far less expensive than pure metals, which allows me to have more choices for what jewelry I want to throw on.  If it's a hot day, go with earrings over that chain-based necklace that will sit on your neck all day!  In colder or average weather, wear whatever your heart desires, but maybe refrain from touching it 24/7. 

Shop: Find some of our favorite plated jewelry options in our India Collection.

Sterling silver jewelry 

Description: Sterling silver jewelry is 92.5% pure silver, which means that an outer layer couldn't wear off and reveal a different color underneath. Because it is a precious metal, it tends to be more expensive, so at Fair Anita you're more likely to see dainty pieces in sterling silver, as the more weight we add = much higher cost. 

Care: For most people, sterling silver jewelry will clean itself naturally as you wear it; the oils on your skin will shine it right up!  If you don't wear your sterling pieces regularly, however, the silver can get a dark layer on top.  The easiest way to clean this jewelry is with a silver polishing cloth: you can get one at any jewelry store or online.  Another home remedy is to take 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tbsp baking soda, make a little concoction and let your jewelry soak for a bit.  Either way, it will shine right up to it's natural beauty!

Recommendation: This jewelry can always be cleaned, so it's a good staple to have in your closet.  If you're going to wear jewelry to the beach, this is the stuff! 

Shop: Our artisan partners make jewelry from sterling silver in PeruMexico, and India

Pure brass or pure copper jewelry

Description: This jewelry is (of course) brass or copper colored, but rather than plated, it's the natural metal all the way!  Most of the jewelry in our Chile Collection is made in this way, as they have access to brass and copper scraps, which they recycle by melting down and creating new jewelry. 

Care: Lemon juice is a great way to clean pure brass or pure copper jewelry.  Just put a little on a paper towel and dab away!  We've heard ketchup works too, but, honestly, I haven't given that one a try. 

Recommendation: This jewelry reacts with the pH of your skin, and it adjusts accordingly.  If you wear pure brass on a scorching hot day, it's likely you'll end up with some green residue left on your skin. But if you regularly wear it, it will adjust to the pH of your body, and it will stop leaving the residue (and naturally get more shiny as you wear it!).  If you hate the green lines, don't wear brass jewelry when you're bound to get super sweaty, but know that this doesn't make the jewelry bad quality, it's just trying to figure your body out.  

Shop: I adore my pure brass jewelry and wear it all the time (no green lines for me!).  Check out our Chile Collection for some of our favorites. 

Recycled bullet casing jewelry

Description: Some of our favorite Fair Anita jewelry is made from recycled bullet casings, made by talented artisans in Ethiopia.  We always get a lot of questions about the metals in this jewelry (yes, they're lead-free... promise!), and concurrently questions on how to clean it. 

Care: The gold-colored recycled bullet casings are pure brass; the copper-colored recycled bullet casing beads are pure copper.  Clean as you would these metals-- lemon juice works great, or even a little soap and warm water.  The silver beads, however, are plated (turns out bullet casings aren't silver... who knew?!), so some tarnishing is possible. For some people, a little lemon juice or soap and warm water works, but for others, their beads will stay a copper color.  

Recommendation: Best bet on silver-plated items: don't wear them when you're bound to get sweaty. We're doing our best to design silver pieces that only lay over the top of your shirt, so then these beads shouldn't tarnish (unless you're nonstop touching your jewelry... stop doing that!). 

Shop: Find jewelry made from recycled bullet casings in our Ethiopia Collection

Real gold jewelry

Description: We don't sell much of any real gold jewelry at Fair Anita, as we're working with artisans in marginalized communities to create the products, and having such a high-priced precious metal in their home-based workshops could be dangerous for them. 

Care: Warm water and a mild dishwashing soap is all you need to clean pure gold jewelry!

Recommendation: If you can afford it, real gold jewelry is a great way to go, as like sterling silver, it can always be restored to it's natural beauty, and it shouldn't tarnish much at all in between wears. 

Shop: We don't have any pure gold jewelry pieces, but we do have sterling silver pieces that are plated with 14k or rose gold. 

Biggest overall recommendation: Read the description of jewelry before purchasing.  Make sure it's made from something that will suit your lifestyle and use for it.  If tarnishing jewelry is driving you up the wazoo, might be time to upgrade to a pure metal!  Jewelry certainly can (and should!) maintain its beauty for long periods of time, but it's important that you take care of it properly in order to avoid being bummed out.

That's it!  Did I miss something?  Have another recommendation for cleaning jewelry that has worked well for you?  Share your ideas in the comments!