Keeping your Silver Jewellery Sparkling throughout Summer.

Keeping your silver jewellery sparking throughout Summer can be tricky! Silver is a gorgeous metal but it can be prone to tarnishing - especially during these glorious summer days. Different factors can speed up this discolouration but thankfully it's easy to get your pieces looking brand new again!

So lets get the boring bit out the way. What is tarnish?

Tarnish is thin layer of corrosion that forms over certain metals when the surface undergoes a chemical reaction. The silver can start to take on a dull grey or yellow tinge and eventually can go black. Thankfully it doesn't damage the metal underneath though and, as I mentioned above, it's easy to remove. 

Mild to extreme tarnish. I may have left that brooch in a drawer for 15 years... whoops.

Mild to extreme tarnish. I may have left that brooch in a drawer for 15 years... whoops.

What causes tarnish and how do I prevent it?

Unfortunately it's impossible to avoid all causes of tarnish. Sweat, sea water, creams (like suncream), perfumes, air pollution and even tap water can all contribute to the development of tarnish - however there are certain steps you can take to minimise exposure. I would recommend removing your jewellery before showering and applying any creams, deodorants etc. While at the beach you might be best to take your jewellery off and keep it in a zip lock bag in your purse. Suncreams can leave a film over your pieces and the sand is likely to buff away the polished surface. Please don't think I'm recommending skipping the suncream though to save your jewellery - safety first!

When not wearing your jewellery storing it in an air-tight container or zip locked bag is the best way to keep it clean and shiny. I know this maybe seems like overkill (and your friends might give you funny looks when they come to visit) but trust me it works! Alternatively a jewellery box can help too. I specially select the boxes I sell my work in so they don't cause tarnish but that's not the case for all boxes; some are designed purely for short-term display so it's worth checking with the maker if it's okay to use the box for storage. You can also buy anti-tarnish pads pretty cheaply you can leave inside your jewellery box for extra protection if you like. 

Help! It's already tarnished. What do I do?

Don't fret! There are a few ways to get your pieces looking good as new again. Polishing cloths are a quick and easy way to remove mild tarnish. I recommend a Town Talk Polishing Cloth - simply wipe over the surface of your pieces to bring the shine back.

Polishing cloths are an easy way to bring the sparkle back to your silver.

Polishing cloths are an easy way to bring the sparkle back to your silver.

If the cloth wont quite cut it there are other products or methods you can use. I was looking into ways of cleaning jewellery without the use of harsh chemicals and found you can remove tarnish with just baking soda & tin foil. I tried out a few 'recipes' I saw online (some people suggest adding more steps) but the simplest method worked the best for me. It's a more eco-friendly option than the stuff you would buy in a shop and is gentle on the work.

You will need

  • Aluminium baking dish (aka excuse for a takeaway) or a tempered Glass bowl & Aluminium foil. 
  • 500ml Boiling water
  • 1 tablespoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • Tongs or tweezers (to remove silver from solution)

1. Add your Bicarbonate of Soda into the aluminium dish or line the bowl with aluminium foil - shiny side up.   

2. Pour in the boiling water and place the silver into your dish. (The pieces I tried took about 30 seconds to look clean.)

4. Use tongs to remove the silver pieces, rinse under a tap and you can give them an extra buff with your polishing cloth if you like.

And voila! My ring by Jane Harrison Jewellery was good as new! 

Another option is a silver dip which may be a better option for more heavily tarnished pieces. I have used Town Talk again (Promise this isn't a secret advert for them by the way it's just a brand I have happened to use and I know works well). Simply dip your jewellery using the basket and submerge for 30 seconds - 2 mins. Although it doesn't mention this in the instructions I would recommend running your piece under a tap and scrubbing it with a soft toothbrush (a kids one works well) & washing up liquid after removing it from the dip. It is important to remove all traces of the dip from the surface of your jewellery as it can cause more extreme tarnish to occur after. You should also always wear gloves and clean your jewellery in a well ventilated area when using silver dips as they are pretty poisonous! Don't use Dips if your piece is not just silver as they are chemicals and can damage porous or dyed stones, pearls and enamel. 

If you aren't sure of the best way to clean your jewellery or have a piece that needs a little extra TLC just ask a jeweller! Thanks for reading and I hope you found this useful. If you have any questions feel free to email me at awrjewellery@gmail.com. 

Ailsa x

 

 

Shopping Small This Christmas!

If you have been following me on social media you may have seen my many posts about 'shopping small' or 'shopping local'. What I mean by this is supporting small businesses rather than visiting the usual High Street shops. This is slightly easier said than done especially if this idea is new to you. I planned on doing this on the run up to Christmas last year but somehow found myself leaving things till the last minute and once again fighting the crowds on Buchanan Street. I thought I would try and give you all some shopping tips so hopefully you can avoid some of the mistakes I made last year! But first, why shop small? As a small business owner myself it might seem like I'm bringing all this up purely for my own personal gain but I promise that’s not it!

When you visit a big high street clothes shop do you know who made the clothes you are buying? Does that overworked and poorly paid sales girl really care what you buy? Personally I find shopping straight from makers or from small independently run shops a much more enjoyable experience and you can see exactly where your money is going. You are buying directly from an individual or small team and genuinely are making someone happy. These large retailers tend to follow trends and often all end up selling the same things. Supporting small independent shops helps keep our communities vibrant and unique. So anyway here are my 3 top tips for a happy shopping (small) experience.

Tea Green at Kibble Palace. 

Tea Green at Kibble Palace. 

1. Start Early!

One of the great things about shopping small means what your buying might be made to order just for you. This however takes time! Don't miss out as you have left it too late or the shop owner is inundated with orders. The Christmas period is really important to small businesses and can often tide them over financially in the quieter months. That being said there are only so many hours in the day so if everyone orders mid-December it could lead to important sales being turned away. Also you can bask in the smug satisfaction of having all you presents wrapped and ready to go weeks before everyone else!

2. Make wish lists on an online Marketplace such as Etsy or Not On The High Street.

Shopping small still means you can shop comfortably from your sofa! I sell on Etsy and buy a lot of pieces from there. I love it now but it can take a bit of getting used to. Anyone can join and sell on Etsy, which means there is a very wide range of work - ranging from the incredible to the rather questionable! Having so many sellers means you should be able to find what you are looking for but it can be a bit daunting filtering out what you want. I would recommend making a profile and liking as many shops and items you can find that you are interested in. The more information Etsy has the more likely it will recommend you other sellers you will actually be interested in. If I come across someone who's work I like on Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest I always favourite his or her Etsy Shop. I find it much easier to go back and look though my shop favourites rather than to try and remember individuals shop names and where I came across them. 

3. Find out what’s happening in your area. 

Thankfully it's not just me who's excited about shopping small and every year there seems to be more craft markets, open studios and pop-ups opening up across the country. The Stylist magazine have published an article recently titled "How Craft Fairs became Cool" and a shopping gallery of “Under-The-Radar Female Makers” mentioning Tea Green Events, Etsy Made Local and Urban Market - all based in Scotland. I’m lucky to have moved into Glasgow’s Hidden Lane this year and we are opening our doors every Saturday on the run up to Christmas so anyone can pop in and shop straight from the makers. Wandering around fairs you never know what hidden gems you might find and the increase in carefully curated craft markets (as mentioned above) means the standard is higher than ever.

Etsy Made Local at The Briggait. 

Etsy Made Local at The Briggait. 

Indie Friday! #JACIndieFriday

Indie Friday! #JACIndieFriday

Final Thoughts. Its only a few days away so I feel like I have to mention Black Friday at this point. I am not a fan of Black Friday. Black Friday originated in America and encourages retailers to dramatically slash their prices. I have never taken part in Black Friday but get asked every year what I’ll be doing for it. Ugh. I know we all love a bargain but is there anything more annoying than buying something full price one day and then seeing it 70% off the next? It leaves the buyer feeling ripped off. Large retailers can plan their mark-ups and prices with a profit margin big enough for the inevitable discount. I (like most small businesses) try to price my work based on the material costs, my overheads (studio rent etc.), making or manufacturing costs and then add a small profit (for actually living off!). If I decided to discount my work I can’t alter the costs of my materials, overheads etc. That money I’m now not getting is coming straight out of the wage I pay myself to actually make the work. I’m not saying I will never discount anything BUT I don’t like the feeling of being pressured into discounting all my work at my busiest time of year. I rely on the profit I can make now to tide me over quieter times and I can feel happy in the knowledge my pieces are priced fairly – for both the buyer and myself.

Okay after that little rant I want to end things on a high note. With platforms like Instagram, Etsy and Facebook it’s easier than ever to spread the word about all these great wee shops out there. The Just A Card campaign launched earlier this year encouraging people to buy from designers, makers, independent galleries and shops. They reinforce the message that all purchases, however small (even ‘just a card’) are so vital to the prosperity and survival of small businesses. They have also recently announced Indie Friday as an alternative to Black Friday. I would encourage you if you are interested at all in shopping small to go check out their website www.justacard.org and follow along with #JACIndieFriday. 

Final Final thoughts. Thanks to all of you who have got this far. Blogging is new to me – I have always struggled with the writing side of running a business. I’m much happier surrounded by sketchbooks and tools. I’m planning on trying to write more blogs so constructive criticism is always welcome and please let me know of any of this helped/interested you. You can get in touch with me @awrjewellery on Instagram, twitter or facebook. This year I will be taking part in Discover Our Hidden Christmas in The Hidden Lane (25th November), Etsy Made Local in The Briggait (2nd December) and Tea Green at Kibble Palace ((th December.) To view my Etsy shop click here or follow www.etsy.com/uk/shop/AilsaWhittetRitchie.

A.W.R.

X

Inspiration & Drawings

I have been planning on writing a blog for a while to let you all in on some of the behind-the-scenes work going on at A.W.R. headquarters. After a few failed attempts (writing in general is not my forte) I have decided instead to do this mainly through images! I have recently set up a Pinterest account and I have put together a Board of drawings & prints that I have made over the last few years and have inspired my jewellery work. I hope you enjoy a wee glimpse into what comes before the jewellery!

To see the full board please click that big button below or search for A.W.R. Jewellery on Pinterest.