Arguably the worst part of owning jewelry is jewelry maintenance. For one thing, you can't just throw your favorite accessories into the washing machine like you would your favorite sweater or pair of jeans; there are very specific ways to clean silver jewelry versus gold jewelry, clean earrings versus diamond rings, etc. The ways in which you store your jewels is also an integral part of their upkeep. Take necklaces, for example. If you're not hanging them up on a stand or carefully arranging them in a drawer, you might as well learn how to untangle necklaces, because chain knots happen, and they are the absolute worst.
Detangling necklaces has never been my strong suit. I've always copped it up to the fact that I have long nails, but admittedly, it's because I never had the patience or desire to learn how. I'd simply pass the slippery, thin-as-yard metal off to my father (a wizard at untangling necklaces and unsticking zippers), and the next morning, the accessory would be sitting pretty on my desk, gnarl-free. And then I got married, moved out, and figured it was as good a time as any to learn the tricks of the trade.
Admittedly, I'm still not skilled in the matter. My husband, however — whose jewelry collection consists of all of two watches, his wedding ring, and a pair of gauges, mind you — can untangle a gnarly knotted in under 60 seconds. So, to end my ride on the struggle bus, I reached out to celebrity fashion stylist KJ Moody and the founder of HEYMAEVE, Alicia Sandve, for their best tips and tricks for untangling necklaces in a pinch. Check out their methods to this madness below.
What You'll Need
Two small, pointed items, such as straight pins or sewing needles
A bowl of warm water
Untangle Necklaces With Moody's 5-Step System
According to Moody, the secret to untangling necklaces is to work slowly and use the right tools: something small and pointed, along with a bowl of warm, soapy water.
The first step, Moody says, is to loosen the knot as much as possible. "Separate by hand as much as you can, if multiple chains are knotted together, and work the knot back and forth between your thumb and pointer finger to help loosen the knot."
From there, you can lay the (or each) entire necklace/chain flat on a smooth, solid surface. This is when the real work begins.
"Use two small, pointed items such as sewing needles, straight pins, toothpicks, or even push pins to pull the two sides apart, open the knot, and untangle the chain," Moody tells InStyle over email. "If that still isn't working, soak the necklace (be very careful of stones, pearls, or beads) in warm soapy water to help work the knot if it is very tight, and then proceed to use the pins to open up the knot."
The fifth step is circumstantial and ultimately depends if you're working with knotted chains (as in, two or more necklaces tangled together) and how their weights vary. If one chain is heavy, while the other is delicate, Moody recommends using shampoo over dish soap to work the necklaces out of their knot. You might also want to use two separate weighted items (think a fork for larger necklaces and a pin/needle for finer ones) to work out the knots.
Sandve's Secret to Untangling Necklaces Is Olive Oil
Your best defense against stubborn knots might just be sitting in your kitchen pantry. Sandve — whose go-to method is also the super thin needle route — adds that if the knot at hand is particularly hard to undo, adding a small drizzle of olive oil to the knot, prior to working a needle into the crevices of the entanglement, should do the trick.
"Once untangled, rinse in warm water and pat dry before storing away," she says.
Worst Case Scenario, Tap a Professional
If virtually nothing is working in your favor, or maybe the necklace in question is precious, holds sentimental value, or is a family heirloom, Moody says your best bet is to consult a professional.
"Please don't hesitate to take it to a professional jeweler to remove the knot and protect any precious stones."