When it comes to body jewelry, there is a wide array—a veritable potpourri, a mélange, a grab bag, if you will—of materials available. From metals to glass to organics, the possibilities for some very unique designs are endless. While cleaning with warm water and antibacterial soap works for all, each medium has its own considerations.
Stone definitely has the easiest care going for it. Simply clean with soap and water, then polish it dry. Avoid using harsh chemical cleansers or abrasives, as this can cloud the finish, and be careful about using extremely hot or very cold water. Also, as stone is a porous substance, keep hair care products, oils and lotions and perfume away from the jewelry.
Glass items can easily be cleaned using soap and water, or wiped with a soft damp rag. Pure borosilicate items can be soaked in warm soapy water to remove dirt and debris. Exercise caution when washing—soapy glass is slippery and can break or shatter if dropped. I take the added precaution of cleaning my glass spirals over a towel to avoid such a disaster.
Not only is wood comfortable for stretched lobes, it’s one of the only materials that significantly cuts down on smell. Shine your wood jewelry by wiping with a soft rag and polishing with a bit of natural wax (try beeswax.) I avoid plant-based waxes (such as jojoba), as they have shelf-lives and can cause your plugs and tunnels to become rank—nasty! Be careful about getting wood jewelry wet; its grain can warp if soaked and dried.
HORN AND BONE
Like wood, buffalo horn has grain. Horn jewelry is buffed to smooth out the ends of the grain and provide it with some measure of moisture protection. Keep horn jewelry with inlays (mother of pearl, turquoise, coral etc.) away from moisture, as this can cause swelling and could eventually result in the grain of the jewelry cracking.
Buffalo bone is more resilient than horn due to the nature of the material. It’s not as easily affected by dampness as horn, but nonetheless should not be constantly exposed to it. Both of these materials can be lightly washed with a mild soap and sparse water if needed, otherwise, they’re perfectly fine with a little beeswax and a polishing with a soft cloth.
(Image ganked from Topps Co. Wacky Packages circa 1973.)