Medals and medallic objects cost a fortune. That’s regardless if they’re a reward for winning a competitive sport, inheriting a family heirloom, or completing a Narcotics Anonymous (NA) program. Conservative estimates suggest that the Olympic gold medal is worth roughly $800.
Now, earning a medallion is one thing. But keeping it in crisp condition is a whole new ballgame. Without a proper care and maintenance plan, it won’t be long before your precious collections begin to lose their glitter. This article will serve as a guide on how to clean and maintain your medallions. But first, let’s examine the importance of cleaning medal art.
Why Clean Your Medallions?
The primary reason to clean and maintain your medallions is that it improves their glitter. Medals are precious collections that should never be left to gather dust in the drawer or trophy cupboard.
Cleaning medals regularly also keeps them in crisp condition in case you need to gift them to someone else.
NA medallions, for instance, are an excellent gift idea. These lovely items can help convey your heartfelt congratulatory messages to a friend or relative for staying clean. You could also gift them to those who’ve lost their loved ones to narcotics or alcohol.
Either way, the medal will have the best impact if it’s sparkling and well-maintained.
Cleaning your medallions regularly also allows you to check for any damages. Although fashioned from some of the most precious metals, medallic items aren’t immune from mechanical wear and tear. Some of these collectibles may also be impacted adversely by extreme weather, such as temperature and humidity.
High temperatures can weaken a medal’s fabric, making it more brittle. This is especially a problem with glass-plated medals. On the other hand, humidity can corrode metallic medals and diminish their value.
Cleaning medallions regularly prevents further degradation due to corrosion. It allows you to determine whether to get your precious piece of art restored.
Last but not least, regularly cleaning medallions is the surest way to know they’re still there. You certainly wouldn’t want your gold-plated jewelry to go unchecked for several months. That’s especially true when you live under the same roof with people whose credibility you cannot vouch for 100%.
How to Clean Medals
1. Understand the plating material
Knowing the specific materials used in plating your medallions is the most critical step in the cleaning process.
Most high-end medals are plated with gold, silver, or bronze. Standard medallions are typically plated with stainless steel or acrylic glass.
2. Gather the requisite supplies
One of the best things about cleaning medallions is that the process requires common household items. The specific cleaning supplies will depend on the plating material.
For instance, the following items will be necessary for cleaning medallions coated with glass or stainless steel;
- Warm water
- Microfiber cloth
- Mild dish soap
- A soft cloth or soft-bristle toothbrush
The procedure would unfold as follows;
- Add a few drops of mild dish soap to a bowl or pale of warm water to create a soapy water solution.
- Submerge your medal in the soapy water and allow it to sit for a few minutes.
This helps to dislodge any dust particles.
- Remove the medal and scrub it gently with a soft cloth or soft-bristle toothbrush.
- Rinse the medallion under warm running water to remove soap.
- Pat dry the medal using a soft cloth or allow it to air-dry.
- Polish the medallion jewelry in a circular motion using a microfiber cloth.
This helps improve its shine.
According to numismatists, you should never clean medallions plated with precious elements using water. Water is especially harmful to gold-plated medals as it can wear off the thin gold layer over time.
Avoid harsh chemicals as they can equally wear out the gold plate.
The best way to clean gold-plated medallions is to wipe them using a soft, damp cloth. This is enough to remove any oils or dirt.
How to Care and Maintain Medallions
Cleaning your medallions regularly isn’t enough to maintain their luster. Proper care is also necessary.
Caring for medallic art mostly revolves around proper handling and storage. Below are some maintenance tips.
Always handle your medallions by their edges. It’s also prudent to wear protective gloves to prevent your skin’s corrosive oils and acids from getting to the medal’s surface.
Numismatists advise removing your medallic jewelry before stepping into the shower, taking a dip, or doing the dishes. That helps in preventing water damage.
Many cosmetic products contain harsh chemicals that can damage your medallions. So, be sure to apply your perfumes or hairspray before putting on your precious jewelry.
The best temperature and relative humidity conditions to store your medallions are below 22oC and below 50%. Be sure to also keep the medals away from sources of magnetism.
As for the cabinet material, avoid treated wood, as it’s known to emit acidic vapors. Direct metal exposure is also discouraged due to the metal’s sensitivity to heat. Instead, consider plastic containers made from inert compounds like polyethylene.
Take off any medallic wearables, such as jewelry, unless absolutely necessary, before going to bed. This prevents the medallions from getting abraded during sleep.
Photo Credit: AdobeStock.com
Having a solid cleaning and maintenance plan is the surest way to enhance the luster and durability of your medallic jewelry. We hope this article provided you with the dos and don’ts of proper medallion cleaning.