Jewelry is one of our most intimate and cherished accessories. We have so many stories tied to them, so 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.
Put jewelry on after applying makeup, perfume and hairspray.
Remove your jewelry if you’re going to do any manual labor, including housework. A bracelet can be easily broken or bent if it catches on a hook. Gems, even diamonds, can chip or crack if they’re knocked against a hard surface. Another danger comes from the harsh solvents used in cleaning, which are not good for any kind of jewelry and particularly harmful to pearls.
Gold doesn’t tarnish, but it can be dirtied or dulled by the oils in your skin, body lotion, makeup or other substances. Chlorine can damage gold alloys, as well as cause color changes and even structural damage. As a result it’s a good idea to remove jewelry before entering the pool or spa.
LIGHT AND HEAT
Light and heat can affect a colored gemstone’s durability and color. Over time, and in excess, they can also fade or damage some gemstones, such as amethyst, kunzite, topaz and shell cameos. Pearls and other delicate materials, such as ivory, will bleach under extreme exposure to light. Other gems, especially amber, can darken over time when exposed to too much light.
Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also fracture some gems. Heat can easily remove the natural moisture these gems need to keep their beauty. Pearls, for instance, can dry out, crack and discolor. Opals can turn white or brown, develop tiny cracks, and might lose their play-of-color.
THE SAFEST CLEANING METHODS
Most colored gemstone jewelry can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft toothbrush. Remove item from soapy water, rinse it and dry thoroughly with a soft polishing cloth. Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a bowl of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones – or even an entire piece of jewelry – if you rinse directly in the sink. Rings in particular tend to collect dust and soap behind the gem, especially if worn often. You need to clean them regularly to let the light in so your gems can shine.
Soft organic gems, such as pearls, coral and amber, on the other hand, can easily scratch. Use a new, clean makeup brush and warm, soapy water to softly clean them. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular. Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner, never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, require special care because they are rocks, not crystals of a single mineral like transparent gems. These gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolor it.
In general be weary before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems many not be, in particular emerald, opal, pearls, peridot, etc. It is best to leave Ultrasonic cleaning to the professionals. You can visit a trusted jewelry store and have them clean your jewelry for you.
Storing your JEWELRY
Gemstones are quite literally hard as rock, but they can be damaged from careless handling and negligence. Proper jewelry storage is often overlooked. Jewelry should never be tossed into a drawer or on top of a dresser – that will surely scratch and damage the gems. Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don’t scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.
Our jewelry pieces come in a box or a pouch, which is a perfect place to keep them. Jewelry boxes that feature individually padded slots for rings and posts for hanging necklaces and bracelets are also ideal.
Pearls and opals draw moisture from the air, so storing your opal or pearl jewelry in a dry area, such as a safe deposit box, can sometimes do more harm than good.
When traveling, protect your jewelry pieces from scratches or other impact damage by padding it in a separate box or case.
Many jewelry stores offer free check-up or professional cleaning at scheduled intervals: Jewelry should be checked every six months and cleaned frequently.