For many people the patina, natural tarnish, and oxidation of a jewelry piece is what adds appeal,
and rustic charm to their south western jewelry. Naturally then when someone says, “why don’t you clean that up?” the response is one of horror: how could anyone clean off the natural tarnish that makes it look so authentic?
The simple answer is that there’s two simple answers. Here at Old Town we separate the idea of cleaning away from the idea of polishing. Cleaning is the removal of dirt and grime from a piece of jewelry using non-invasive means, such as water, mild cleaners, and a soft rag. Polishing is the use of cloth buffing wheels on a machine using buffing compounds to take everything off, right down to the silver. This results in a lustrous shine, and the “brand new” look.
Cleaning, however, just removes the oil and grime build up, leaving the appealing tarnish and patina intact.
There are creams and sprays that can be used for cleaning, however, these tend to remove the oxidation and tarnish, giving a look that is much closer to the “brand new” look. If you are thinking about using a cream or a spray, be sure to test it on a small or hidden area of your jewelry first. It may take off more than you were hoping for!
Below is a before-and-after example of cleaning. This photo shows two sides of the same bracelet. On side has been cleaned, and the other side has not. No buffing wheels were use, and no buffing compounds–just a little Windex and a rag. As you can see, the left example shows the dirt and crud build that comes from daily wear and use.
The right side shows the dirt removed, and the tarnish still intact.
Whether you prefer your jewelry clean, or highly polished, we are here to help! If you have questions, or if you’d like a piece cleaned up or polished, we would be happy to assist you. Feel free to call us, email us, or simply drop by and show us your favorite piece of jewelry.