Baby your Bling: preparing and caring for your belly dance costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

Costume jewelry

It’s happened to you before. You’ve scoured the Internet, the discount boutiques, or the rhinestone-filled stores of midtown Manhattan or downtown LA to find the perfect set of costume jewelry to match a costume. And then it happens. Maybe you saw it onstage, maybe you don’t realize until you’re unpacking your gig bag home, or until days later when you fasten the earrings on again. WHERE DID THAT CRYSTAL GO?!

While costume jewelry can be inexpensive (check out the price tag on this set I just got!), you get what you pay for in many ways.

Fear not, with a few easy preparation and care steps, you can keep your costume jewelry looking as good as the day you pulled it out of the package.

Materials

Supplies

Supplies

  1. Box with a lid 
  2. Old t-shirt
  3. Toothpick
  4. E-6000 glue
  5. Clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield
  6. Pliers

Prepare

1. Storage: Tangles and scratches are the enemy of costume jewelry, whose weak links and soft imitation stones damage easily. Prevent damage by creating a storage system that uses the plastic packaging that most costume jewelry sets come with now.

Cut the plastic packaging to fix in a lidded box. Take the twist ties that were used to secure the necklace from the set and turn them around so that the ends face up. Use the twist ties to secure the necklace so it doesn’t rattle around in the box.

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Costume jewelry in storage box with cloth

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Twist ties keep jewelry in place

Place the earrings into the original holes from the packaging.

Cut a small piece from the old t-shirt to fit your box to place over the jewelry; this will prevent movement and scratches.

2. Check for loose stones and links: Tiffany-quality settings these are not, and more often than not, crystals fall out and prove to be nearly impossible to replace because of odd sizes or colors.

As soon as you get your new jewelry, use a toothpick to pry at the space between the setting and the stone.

Checking for loose stones

Checking for loose stones

If there are any loose stones (or if they pop out all together!), use a small dab of E-6000 glue to secure them back in place, making sure to wipe the glue off any metal or stone surfaces. Use pliers to tighten any loose links.

3. Coat the backing: Costume jewelry’s mystery metal likes to turn weird colors when it reacts to your sweat, causing streaks to run down your skin when you’re dancing. Prevent this by coating the back of your jewelry with a coat of clear nail polish or Jewelry Shield.

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Coat the back of your jewelry to prevent discoloration

Now that you’ve prepared your new jewelry, you’re ready to dance!

Care

1. Dry it off: Even though you’ve coated the back of your jewelry, sweat buildup can still eventually damage it or wear through the coating. Use the cloth in your storage box to wipe down your jewelry after each wear. Wash or replace the cloth as needed, and apply a new coat of nail polish or Jewelry Shield as needed.

2. Examine it: Did any prongs come lose? Did a link open when you caught your bracelet in your hair and had to pull it out? Look at your jewelry frequently to check for any problems, and if you find them, fix according to Step #2 in the Care section.

Just a few minutes of maintenance before and after each use can keep your costume jewelry in dance-ready shape for years!

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2 thoughts on “Baby your Bling: preparing and caring for your belly dance costume jewelry

  1. That’s great! I usually spray the backs of all mine with a clear lacquer intended for metal, it works well. I do the same to my zills to slow the tarnishing.
    Another problem I find is that the jewels themselves tarnish and lose their shine as their silvery backing discolours. It happens even if the back is covered so I don’t know how sweat could get in. Is there any way to minimise this? I’m never sure whether to wash them – which will remove sweat from the nooks and crannies that a cloth can’t reach, but risks water damage.

    • Hi Rachel, glad you enjoyed! I’m going to have to try your zill tip.

      That is a tough problem to tackle, and one I’m still trying to perfect a solution for. Because every costume jewelry set is a little different, try washing a single link/stone somewhere inconspicuous, like the back of the neck, and set the piece out where it can dry quickly. Moisture staying trapped is the biggest problem, so airing out your jewelry (just like your costume) and storing it with silica gel packs.

      If you’ve really got time, you could pull out every gem and coat the backs with lacquer/nail polish/jewelry protectant…and then set them all back in! That’s dedication to your craft 🙂

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