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Rust is a chemical reaction that occurs on metal surfaces. When iron in metal oxidizes due to oxygen in the air or in water, rust develops, which erodes the surface of metals. Metal necklaces and chains, including brass and silver pieces, are particularly susceptible to rust. Take care to prevent rust in an effort to protect your jewelry pieces and make them last.

Coat the necklace or chain with a protective lacquer. Dip the item in a jewelry protective product specifically designed for rust prevention. Alternatively, use clear nail lacquer. Gently paint the jewelry piece with the lacquer brush. Hang to fully dry before wearing or storing.

Place the necklace or chain in an air-tight, non-reactive, dry container to properly store the jewelry. For instance, place in a jewelry box lined with a non-tarnish material. For added protection, place the piece in a polyethylene or Mylar bag, which will protect the piece from rubbing against other metal jewelry items. Avoid storing the jewelry in a cardboard box or on a wood surface.

Clean the jewelry regularly to remove harsh chemicals and dirt, which can erode the finish and thereby expedite the process of tarnish or rust. Use only cleaners suited for the particular metal, using a soft bristle brush to clean between the links of the chain. Gently rub with a cotton or flannel cloth.

Remove the necklace or chain before using any harsh chemicals, such as chlorine, bleach, ammonia, alcohol or turpentine. These chemicals release particles in the air which can cause tarnish and rust on jewelry pieces.

Apply hair and styling products and fragrances or perfumes before, rather than after, putting on necklaces and chains. Limit makeup or lotions on the neck or chest, where the piece rests.

Remove the jewelry before washing and bathing. Keep the item away from moisture, which causes oxidation.