Keep jewelry away from household cleaners and chlorine.
When not wearing your jewelry, store each piece in its own Ziploc® or soft fabric bag. Keep in a dark place. This reduces tarnish, keeps softer metals from being scratched, and preserves colored rings longer. Even though the cleaning methods below are pretty gentle, it’s best to not have to clean your jewelry more often than you need to.
Always handle your jewelry gently. Remember that most chainmaille links are not soldered closed, and can therefore be pulled open. Treat your chainmaille just as you would handle a delicate pearl necklace or crystal bracelet.
Your jewelry can pick up dirt, oil, and even odors. To clean most metals (sterling silver, stainless steel, aluminum, titanium, niobium, and gold-fill); soak jewelry in soapy water (use non-lotion dishwashing soap) for several minutes. Then lather with soap and gently but briskly rub the jewelry between your palms. Rinse with warm water and let air dry, or use a blow dryer on lowest and coolest setting.
Refer to the guidelines below for additional care and cleaning details for specific metals.
Hot water and air will cause tarnish to return to your freshly cleaned piece so only use cold water and air when cleaning pieces made from copper, jewelry brass or silver.
A Note About Colored Metals
To create the brilliant colors found in my pieces, regular rings are dipped into electrically charged solutions. The electricity causes the outer layer of the ring to change colors. By varying the voltage, literally a rainbow of colors can be achieved. Niobium (element 41) and Titanium (element 22) are anodized in this manner. Aluminum is anodized to prepare the metal, and then dyed.
Anodized rings may fade with time. For most jewelry pieces this won't happen for a very long time. However, with pieces that often encounter high-friction situations (i.e., finger rings), the process will happen faster. Storing your jewelry in a Ziploc® or soft fabric bag helps minimize discoloration.
NEVER use polishing crèmes or cloths because they may remove the color from anodized rings. Follow cleaning instructions under General Care.
Aluminum (Bright Silver or Anodized Color)
Aluminum is a soft metal, so be extra gentle.
Aluminum doesn't tarnish, but it will pick up oils and dirt, causing it to become dull. Follow cleaning instructions under General Care. Over time, aluminum will corrode slightly, losing a bit of shininess. It stops corroding once its surface layer has corroded.
Some people may notice a black rub-off where the aluminum touches their skin. How much of a rub-off may depend on the acid content of your skin; several people who have reactions to copper also react to aluminum.
It is widely accepted that aluminum is very poorly absorbed through the skin, so you do not need to worry about metal toxicity.
When your maille becomes dull or dirty, a quick wash in blue dish soap and warm water should dissolve any oils from your skin and brighten up your jewelry.
Anodized aluminum gives bright silver aluminum a layer of shiny color. Take care when storing these pieces as heavier metals can scratch the colors. To preserve the life of your anodized jewelry it's best not to wear them while bathing. *Occasional* cleaning with mild blue dish soap is recommended. Unfortunately, the color will fade over time but, with proper care and storage, should last for years.
Never use polishing cloths or creams on Anodized Aluminum! These products may cause the color to rub off! Anodized aluminum will come clean using our general cleaning method described above and can even be dipped in lemon juice if it’s in a piece with tarnishable metals.
Brass and Bronze
Jewelry brass is a nice, durable heavyweight metal that bears a strong resemblance to 14K yellow gold when polished. Brass will develop a patina with time and wear but can easily be cleaned with a commercial cleaner like Brasso. To keep the shine as long as possible, store in an airtight bag and keep away from humid conditions.
Brass can tarnish quickly, and will corrode over time. Due to the copper content of this wire it will patina reasonably fast (does depend on such things as your skin chemistry). Clean with vinegar/water/salt mixture or any commercial jewelry cleaner that can clean brass.
Bronze is a gorgeous, warm colored metal with a nice heavy weight. Bronze will patina with time, turning darker and giving character to the jewelry. If you prefer your bronze chainmaille to look as bright as the day you receive it, any commercial cleaner for bronze, like Brasso, will restore the shine. To keep the shine as long as possible, store in an airtight bag and keep away from humid conditions.
Bronze can tarnish quickly. Due to the copper content of this wire it will patina reasonably fast (does depend on such things as your skin chemistry). Generally cleans up well with products that clean brass or copper.
Copper (Natural or Enameled Color)
Copper is a heavyweight metal that is quite lovely, but it quickly develops a patina. Copper quickly turns from a shiny orange-brown to a deep chocolate color. Exposure to air and light speed this process. Leave your piece out if you want it to tarnish quickly. Otherwise, store it in its own Ziploc® bag.
If you would like to restore your copper jewelry to its original shine, any commercial copper cleaner will work. Alternatively, a few items from your kitchen will work just as well. Add a bit of salt to some lemon juice and dip your jewelry in to soak for a few minutes. Once clean, rinse with water and dry well.
If you prefer your copper and jewelry brass pieces to stay bright and shiny but don’t own a tumbler, you’ll love this trick. Simply soak pieces in vinegar for 5-10 seconds (could take up to 20 seconds if severely tarnished). After removing the piece from the mixture, lather with non-lotion dishwashing soap and water, and rub the jewelry briskly but gently between your palms. Rinse thoroughly with cold water. Dry the piece completely right away with a blow dryer on lowest setting to prevent water spots. Make sure the piece is fully dry before you return it to its Ziploc® bag.
It is worth noting that repeated vinegar cleaning can strip rings of their luster as the process creates microscopic pitting in the surface of the rings. This can be buffed out via tumbling, however if you don't have access to a tumbler, it is recommended to limit the use of this process.
Copper is very soft, so be extra gentle with copper jewelry.
Enameled Copper shouldn't have a real need to be cleaned, but if you find you need it; generally a quick bath in warm soapy water, rinse and dry.
Stainless steel is a heavy and very durable metal (One of the easiest metals to look after). Stainless doesn't tarnish and isn't easily scratched.
Steel requires little maintenance, but if you'd like to clean your piece, follow instructions under General Care. Washing when needed in blue dish soap and water will keep your steel looking great.
Steel reacts to temperature changes quickly! Take care when cooking over a stove, washing your hands with hot water, and using a hair dryer.
Gold-Fill and Sterling Silver
Gold-fill is a layer of 12k gold surrounding a base metal core. This layer is 20% the thickness of the wire—about 1000 times thicker than gold-plating—so the gold won't flake off.
Gold and Gold-fill rings may develop a subtle patina with time. Follow general cleaning instructions under General Care.
Due to the copper content Sterling Silver will tarnish. Silver tarnishes quickly when exposed to light and air. If you want your jewelry to tarnish, then leave it out when you're not wearing it. (Otherwise, store each piece in its own Ziploc® bag with an anti-tarnish tab). To clean there are several methods, use a cleaning cloth for silver, toothpaste (no abrasives) rubbed on with a gentle application...there are many but once cleaned keep it as air tight as possible to keep the shine.
You can remove tarnish regularly following cleaning instructions under General Care.
Avoid resting sterling directly on wood surfaces, especially oak, as wood finishes usually contain acids that can mar the surface of sterling. Always store silver away from direct sunlight.
Multiple Metals & Other Components
Caring for/cleaning jewelry that combines metals is as easy as caring for any other pieces. The rule of thumb is to cater to the metal that needs to most careful cleaning. For example, cleaning a piece that combines aluminum and copper? Use lemon juice and cold water only. If your piece uses anodized aluminum along with any other metal, the cleaning method for the other metal should be just fine for the anodized aluminum or you can clean pieces by hand using blue dish soap; however you’ll want to clean the piece less frequently to prevent color-fading.
You can use the white vinegar method for cleaning pieces that combine tarnishable metals (copper, jewelry brass, bronze) with anodized aluminum. It is worth noting that repeated vinegar cleaning can strip rings of their luster as the process creates microscopic pitting in the surface of the rings. This can be buffed out via tumbling, however if you don't have access to a tumbler, it is recommended to limit the use of this process.
Air tight Ziploc® bags with Anti- tarnish tabs for each individual item is highly recommended to minimize the need for cleaning. They should also be kept in a box and/or in a dark, cool, and dry place.
You can use most of the methods above to clean pieces that contain glass or crystal components (even tumbling). We recommend cleaning pieces with these components by hand. If your piece contains foil-backed crystals, be careful as the foil can be scratched off. If it has a foil back, it will scratch and deteriorate over time, kind of 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.
Rubber Maille Pieces
Your rubber chainmaille should be conditioned monthly (or every couple of months if you are not wearing it and it is stored in a plastic container). Conditioning your rubber chainmaille piece will prolong its life and restore it to its original sheen. If you do NOT condition your rubber, it will crack, split and get a white haze.
DO NOT USE PETROLEUM BASED OILS to condition your rubber chainmaille. It WILL deteriorate over time.
Armor All® can be used to shine and condition pieces that use rubber rings. To condition your chainmaille, place the item(s) in a Ziploc® bag. Spray items 2-5 times with the Armor All® (a little goes a long way). After closing the bag, place between your hands and rub them together (like you’re trying to warm them up) for roughly 30 seconds. Opon removing your item(s) from the bag, you may choose to simply wipe the excess away with a clean dry towel, or rinse the piece under running water. Dry item(s) with a towel or rag after rinsing. This process is generally safe for all other metals that might be combined with the rubber; however it can cause anodized aluminum to fade more quickly.
If you have copper, jewelry brass or bronze rings combined with your rubber rings use cool water instead of hot. Hot water will begin the tarnishing process on those metals and they will tarnish much faster than usual.