10 Tips Jewelry & Gemstone Care
Jewelry is one of our most intimate and cherished accessories. Understanding how to care for and protect your treasured jewelry can make a world of difference in maintaining its beauty and keeping your heirlooms sparkling for generations to come.
TREAT YOUR JEWELRY WITH CARE
Jewelry should always be removed before performing any manual labor or exercise. This includes housework, gardening, workouts and sports. Most people will bend over backwards to avoid scratching their car, but then they expect their fine jewelry to survive their day-to-day lives unscathed. Car steel is a 6 on the Moh’s hardness scale. Precious metals, on the other hand, have a hardness of only 2.5-3, depending on the alloy, of course. Even something as simple as bike riding can cause your precious jewelry to bang against metal which is harder than the precious metal.
If you cannot take off your ring to work out or garden, you should at least try to wear the proper gloves, providing some level of cushioning and support.
DO NOT STORE JEWELRY TOGETHER
Be sure to keep each of your jewelry pieces in a soft pouch, separate compartment, or cotton-lined box. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will scratch or abrade every other piece they touch, even gold can scratch other gold. Pearls are also extremely soft and should not be stored with other gems or loose items. Store your jewelry carefully – the wrong angle and too much pressure – and you can damage your valuables.
CLEAN YOUR JEWELRY REGULARLY
Be sure to consult our gemstone care guide to learn about the best cleaning methods for your gemstones and gemstone jewelry. Although most respond well to simply warm water and mild detergent, certain gems have sensitivities you need to be aware of, especially if you decide to mechanically clean your jewelry. If in doubt, make sure a professional is in charge. Scratching and other damage can occur from improper cleaning. Do not over clean. Never use bleach or household cleaners.
PERIODICALLY CHECK FOR LOOSE GEMS
Gently shake the piece, or tap it with your finger near your ear. Prongs may be checked by trying to insert a thin piece of paper between the gem and the metal prongs. When in doubt, have it professionally checked (part of our free estimate!). Have all loose gemstones tightened before wearing your jewelry.
RESTRING BRACELETS AND NECKLACES
Pearls are usually strung securely with silk, and are knotted between each pearl to avoid abrasion and prevent loss if the string should break. If your pearls seem to “travel” loosely on the thread or if the thread has discolored, it is time to restring. Have the pearls restrung once a year, if worn frequently. Heavier pearls may need to be restrung more often. If the pearls seem to become dingy, it is time for a cleaning. Pearls can be cleaned professionally or you can wash them gently with Woolite in warm water, being careful not to stretch the thread. Rinse thoroughly and let air dry on a towel until the thread is completely dry (usually at least 24 hours).
CHECK CLASPS AND FASTENERS OFTEN
If they are not properly adjusted you risk losing your piece, so bring it in and have it professionally checked, adjusted or repaired if needed.
Pearls and opals will dry out and become discolored or loose their luster, even crack if stored in too dry an environment. Never expose pearls or opals to hair sprays, cosmetics, perfumes, sun lotions or insect repellents – the acids in them will attack the pearls. Pearl and opal dealers will keep an open container of water INSIDE their safes (and the make sure to keep them filled) to avoid this sort of damage. You should also do this.
It is ok to keep your pearls & opals in a sealed plastic bag for a short period of time, but they will dry out and potentially sustain damage if left for too long. This also applies to leaving these jewels in a hot, closed car – we do not recommend this. Pearls should be the last article to go on and first to come off when getting ready to go out.
TAKE YOUR JEWELRY OFF AT NIGHT
Platinum & palladium jewelry is very durable and strong, and they do not lose metal through wear and contact like other precious metals do, however they can still be scratched. Other precious metals, like gold and silver, will scratch and gradually become worn as they come in contact with other objects and frequent wear. Even your sheets will contribute to this, so we strongly recommend you take off your jewelry at night and store it gently until you put it back on.
DON’T WEAR JEWELRY IN THE POOL
Chlorine attacks the alloys in gold and silver! Jewelry made of 14 karat gold is 58.5% gold and the other 41.5% is a mix of different metal alloys — depending on the color of the gold & the manufacturer’s formula. 18 karat gold is 75% pure gold and the balance are different metal alloys. Chlorine attacks the molecular structure of the piece, and suspends the alloys in solution, actually carrying away some of the alloys with each exposure, greatly weakening your piece of jewelry. You risk gems falling from their settings or the piece cracking as a result of the effects of chlorine and other damaging chemicals, so do not wear them in swimming pools, hot tubs, or while working with bleach and other harsh chemicals & acids. Platinum and palladium are nearly chemically inert, so they are not affected.
TAKE CARE OF DIRT AND GRIME
Dirt & grime build-up dull the beauty and sparkle of your gemstone jewelry & cause stones to be pushed out. This is true for all your jewelry, but rings are the most vulnerable because we wash our hands frequently through out the day. Soap residue, lotion, sunscreen, dirt and grime build-up inside your rings over time and can actually gradually cause your gemstones and diamonds to be pushed out of their settings and be lost.
As these substances accumulate inside your ring settings through normal wear, they will dry and harden almost acting like cement behind the gems. Then, as you wash your hands during the day, or while washing dishes or preparing food, this buildup gets moist and expands, creating a pressure that works to loosen your gems. Over time, with repeated wetting, expanding and then drying and contracting, the gems are slowly pushed out of their moorings. So, please remember to clean them regularly to avoid these problems and keep them looking pretty, sparkly and well cared for.