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How To Care For Your Rhinestone Jewelry
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So you received something glitzy and gorgeous - what to do now? Take fantastic care of it of course. Our tips below will show you ways to keep your jewelry safe from harm and looking its best.

Why is cleaning rhinestone jewelry different from cleaning other types of jewelry?
To answer this question, it is first necessary to understand exactly what a rhinestone is. In its very basic essence, a rhinestone is simply a piece of glass backed with foil. This piece of glass does not refract light in the way that a real diamond reflects light; therefore, in order for this piece of glass to reflect light and sparkle, it is backed with foil. This foil acts in the same manner as the backing on a mirror, without the backing, a mirror is just a piece of glass. Without the foil on a rhinestone, the light would just shine right through the glass, instead of being refracted and reflected back out.

Why is this so important when cleaning rhinestone jewelry?
Because of the foil backing, the greatest threat to the beauty of rhinestone jewelry is moisture. If moisture gets behind the rhinestone, it will cause the foil to tarnish and darken. This will result in a dull and lifeless rhinestone, which will require replacement. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that you never clean your rhinestone jewelry by immersion. You must never 'dunk' your rhinestone jewelry in cleaners meant for fine jewelry or even in liquid cleaners that claim to be safe for costume jewelry.

Now I know what not to do, so how do I clean my rhinestone jewelry?
First, lets get the together the items we will need to properly clean our rhinestone beauties.
Very soft bristle brushes like the ones used to apply eye shadow makeup
Clean cotton or muslin cloths
Paper towels
Dental style pick, hatpin, or similar style needle
Can of compressed air usually used for cleaning computer parts
Window cleaner such as Windex or similar
Hair blow dryer with a low/cool setting
The first step is to remove any loose dust and dirt on the piece with the can of compressed air. You may also use a soft, dry makeup brush for this step, but be careful because bits of dirt can scratch the stones surface, especially if it is coated with an aurora borealis finish. If there are any stubborn areas of built up crud, such as food, makeup, or dirt, you can gently use the dental pick to loosen. Needless to say, be very careful not to scratch the metal or stones.

Now with the loose material removed, we can focus on cleaning and polishing the piece. Since rhinestones are pieces of glass, it makes perfect sense to use a cleaner that is made especially for glass, i.e., a window cleaner such as Windex. To begin, fold a paper towel in half and then fold in half again so that it is folded into a square with four layers. Place a couple of squirts of window cleaner onto the top layer of the folded paper towel.

We will do most of the cleaning with a very soft bristled makeup brush. Take the brush and blot the bristles onto the damped paper towel. You are looking to have the bristles just damp, but not overly wet. Remember we do not want any moisture to seep behind our rhinestones. With gentle swirls of the brush, start cleaning both the metal setting and rhinestones. If your swirling action creates suds, then your brush is most likely too wet. You should blot your brush on a dry paper towel to remove some of the cleaner before continuing.

After cleaning a small area on your piece, blot it dry with the cotton cloth. Be careful about rubbing with the cloth, otherwise your cloth might catch on the prongs that hold the rhinestones in place. After you have cleaned the entire piece in this manner, you can use a hair blow dryer on its lowest/coolest setting to further insure that no moisture is behind the stones. Lay the piece flat on a cotton cloth and run the hair dryer over the piece for a couple of minutes. Now place the piece face down on the cotton cloth to continue drying.

What else can I do to keep my beauties sparkling?
First, never just jumble your jewelry together in a jewelry box. The pieces will rub against one another causing scratches in the metal, scratches in the stones, and even causing the stones to pop out. It is best to store your jewelry in the box in which it came. These boxes are usually lined with cotton inserts, which are great at protecting your beauties. If storing a pin and earring set in the same box, then fasten the pin and earrings to the cotton insert to eliminate the possibility of them rubbing together.

Never subject your jewelry to harsh temperature changes. The metal in the piece expands and contracts in extreme temperature changes, which can cause the rhinestones to become loose and fall out. Also, be careful when storing jewelry in wooden jewelry boxes and drawers. Oak, for instance, has certain chemicals that react adversely with the metals in costume jewelry.

Lastly, when wearing your sparkling beauties, let them be the last thing you put on before leaving the house. Never have your jewelry on while applying cosmetics, perfume, and hair spray. Never wear your jewelry against skin with perfume or perfumed lotions. The metal will react to the chemicals causing it to tarnish.

It you follow this simple advice, your sparkling, beauties will last you a lifetime.