All kinds of jewelry need some kind of upkeep, but resin jewelry needs its own special care. In comparison to metals strengthened for use in jewelry, resin is a relatively soft substance easy to scratch and sensitive to chemicals. To make your resin jewelry long-lasting and to keep it in top condition for as long as possible, I have some tips and tricks for you.
Now, these aren’t rules so much as tips and do-them-as-often -as-you-can recommendations. I’m definitely not perfect and forget to take care of my jewelry properly—but, if we could all follow these rules all the time our jewelry would last a loooooong time (especially if the jewelry is high quality in the first place).
Of course, regular jewelry care for metal jewelry applies to resin jewelry because it's often on a metal chain or in a metal bezel. Things like removing your jewelry when:
- Putting on perfume or lotion
Avoiding these things helps prevent and slow down metal tarnish, which happens to all metals over time. So, water doesn't have a negative effect on resin, but it does encourage tarnish on metal.
But, beyond regular care there are some special requirements and emphasis on different things (storing in a dark place is IMPORTANT for resin jewelry!).
So to start, let's talk things to avoid.
Epoxy resin is a type of plastic, which means its melting point is lower than the melting point of metal. While epoxy resin can be flamed when its first mixed together and is still in the curing/ hardening stage, once it has cured a flame can ruin the piece.
And while leaving your resin jewelry out in the sun isn’t the end of the world—and the minor heat won’t ruin the piece—UV rays are damaging to the natural color of flowers and leaves and some epoxy resins yellow with UV light. Some epoxy resins are specifically designed to not yellow with exposure to UV light, like the brand I use.
Anything with a sharp edge can scratch the surface of resin. This could be possibly fixed with a simply extra coat applied to the top, but it’s easier to just avoid sharp objects in the first place.
Abrasive cloths, sandpaper, and the like also fall into this category. Even small scratches, if there's enough, can create a cloudy look.
Submerging in Liquids
This one is not just resin jewelry-specific.
Wearing any jewelry in the shower, pool, etc, will cause tarnishing to happen more quickly than usual. Basically, don't submerge in liquids, even if it is just water.
This may seem confusing when you read later in this post that sterling silver can be “cleaned” by submerging it in a concoction of boiling water, baking soda, vinegar, yadda yadda—I know. The thing is, this method is for removing tarnish that has already happened. And the “extreme heat” is good to avoid but boiling water is actually fine with epoxy resin in my experience.
Plated and even gold or silver filled jewelry have a limited number of layers before the base metal underneath is revealed--and once it is there is no way to brighten it unless it is re-plated by a professional jewelry (resin doesn't hold well in the process of this).
I know, there's chemicals everywhere. Even natural ones. But when I say harsh, I mean if particularly aggressive.
Chemicals such as acetone are known to eat plastic (and resin is a type of plastic). Alcohol, while useful at cleaning the metal parts of jewelry, can potentially damage the surface of epoxy resin, too. Perfume, which is often alcohol-based, is also a substance to avoid.
Oils seem pretty harmless right? Well, oils can ruin the surface of resin. It's not very noticeable and is fixable with an additional coat of resin, but when it comes to making your resin jewelry last as long as possible it's better not to leave oil on your jewelry.
It usually happens when it’s been sitting there a while. You might be thinking, “Oh, that’s fine, I’m not cooking while wearing my jewelry. I’m good.”
But the main culprit is actually the oils from human skin—especially for resin earrings which are often surrounded by hair and pick up oils from that as well. Necklaces, especially long ones that lay over your shirt all the time, are less effected.
So, a great way to take care of this is with mild dish soap. Dish soap is made to cut through grease. With some warm water it can remove oils. I do this before storing it (which I cover in more depth later on in this blog post). To remove a light amount of oil, use a soft non-abrasive cloth.
Speaking of cloths, you may be wondering , how do you clean (aka remove tarnish from) and store resin jewelry?
Also, I have a printable, short version of this guide you can keep handy to remember how to care for your resin jewelry. You can grab it by clicking the button below.
When it comes to jewelry, earrings need to be cleaned the most often, but otherwise people don’t often wash their jewelry to clean it. Rather, upkeep for jewelry involves removing tarnish that happens to all metals over time.
Water & oxygen exposure will tarnish all metals. If you are using sterling silver or solid gold, the tarnish can be removed to brighten the jewelry back up forever. Because underneath each layer of tarnish is just more of the same stuff, sterling silver or solid gold are the longest lasting options.
There's also platinum and some metals similar to platinum, but they're not as well known as gold and silver.
Plated jewelry, no matter what it is plated with, will tarnish just the same. But when brightened back up it will just continue to reveal the base metal beneath (which is usually a dull, dark gray). After attempting to remove tarnish, plating metals will look the same or worse.
In general, jewelry can be cleaned with:
- Mild dish soap
- warm water
- a soft abrasive cloth can be used to remove some tarnish from (only) the metal (because, remember, something abrasive could scratch the surface of the resin)
- --also, if you're removing tarnish from chain, a jewelry-dedicate toothbrush can be handy
But, this method of cleaning is not the best for removing tarnished metal.
To remove tarnish from a sterling silver piece (sterling means 92.5% pure sterling with some other metals mixed in it to strengthen it enough to be worn) try this method:
It's all over the internet, so I have no idea where this originated, but I read about it at this website.
- a glass bowl lined with aluminum foil
- or an aluminum baking dish
- or a pot and a piece of aluminum foil
The aluminum will draw the tarnish to it by the end of this process. Next you need:
- boiling water
- baking soda
- white vinegar
- a cloth to polish
I found that this technique for removing tarnish from sterling silver works great with resin jewelry I’ve made with Art Resin epoxy resin. I was nervous about the boiling water and let it cool slightly (just so it stopped bubbling) before I poured it. Still worked great.
Some versions don't call for salt or vinegar, but I used all the ingredients when I tested this. Maybe one day I'll skip it and see how well it works without it. There's many more ways (this article has 13 ways to remove tarnish), but this one is easy and I can verify that, despite the boiling water, it works great with resin jewelry.
It's quick, simple, and only requires household items—hard to argue it’s not worth it.
Plus, when it comes to small pieces and areas that are difficult to polish by hand (like chain), this method is a time-saver.
When not wearing your jewelry, prevent tarnish by keeping your jewelry in a closed container like a small baggie or a jewelry box (or both!). Air tight is preferable. Store this container in a dark, cool, dry area.
This helps to preserve the longevity of any flora embedded in the resin and the resin itself, since in darkness it isn't exposed unnecessarily to UV rays.
Like I said earlier, I’m not perfect about taking care of my jewelry. But make do, and go as far as you can.
I store my jewelry in a dresser drawer in a jewelry organizer. Pieces that I really want to keep nice go in little zip-lock baggies.
Not sure how you’ll remember all this? I have a free, 1 sheet printable with all this info briefly jam-packed to keep handy near your jewelry box.
So, care for your jewelry to make it last as long as possible to continue enjoying it. You don't have to keep it in a locked box and never wear it--and by wearing it, it will bear some wear and tear--but remember what to avoid, properly clean it, and you'll be good.