Caring for Your Jewelry
Fine jewelry requires gentle care to ensure that it will last for generations. Understanding how to care for your jewelry can make an extraordinary difference in preserving its condition and beauty. Proper care is simple and necessary for the up-keep of your precious investment.
Common sense tells you to take your jewelry off before activities like rough work and exercise, but there are other instances when you should not wear your jewelry.
Always remove jewelry before:
- Performing tasks that may expose it to scratches, sharp blows, chemicals or abrasives
- When dressing the rule of thumb is: Jewelry is the last thing to put on and the first thing to come off.
- Showering- the force of the water can stretch out chains, gemstones and gold are prone to soap build-up, hard water may contain damaging minerals, shower products contain chemicals
- Applying hand or body lotions, hair or body sprays, cosmetics
- Working in the kitchen- cooking, cleaning, or washing dishes
- Working or playing outdoors
- Using household cleaners
- Swimming, or going in hot tubs- chlorine, especially at high temperatures can damage and discolor jewelry
- Having your hair styled- hair dye and perm solutions can permanently damage precious metals and gems
- Exercising - perspiration can dull and corrode jewelry, it can also catch on clothes/hair
- Going to bed - tossing and turning can kink, stretch, or break chains; prongs can catch and possibly break
I take great pride in my craftsmanship and check each piece before it is sent to you. However, any item worn on the body is subject to wear and tear. It is easy to think because jewelry is metal that it is super tough, even indestructible, but in order for fine jewelry to last for generations, it requires some loving care.
An easy way to keep you jewelry in tip top shape is to give each piece a look over when you take it off at night before bed. Note if any prongs are bent, or broken. Make sure all stones are in place. Check chains for broken or missing links. Never wear a piece of jewelry with a broken prong or any other defect. Resist the urge to put it back on until it is fixed. A look over doesn’t take long and you’ll be glad you caught a bent prong before it breaks off and you lose your gemstone!
Chemicals can damage precious metals (silver, gold, platinum), pearls, and gemstones. This includes many household items that may not immediately come to mind.
Things to Avoid:
- Perfume, hairspray, lotion, talcum powder, and other cosmetics
- Insect repellant
- Sun screen
- Chlorine bleach- can cause pitting or cracking in gold alloys.
- Other solvents and acids can discolor or eat away your metal.
- Dust and grit
- Salt water
- Oils and grease
If you are not sure if a substance may be harmful to your jewelry, be on the safe side and remove jewelry until you are finished using the product.
• Just as prolonged exposure to direct sunlight can be bad for our skin, it can also fade and weaken some gems
• Excessive heat and sudden temperature change can fracture a gem. Heat can remove a gem’s natural moisture causing it to lose it beauty and integrity
• Extreme dryness or humidity- beware of overly dry environments due to central heating or damp basements and bathrooms
- Keeping your jewelry in good condition means treating it like treasure. Dropping your jewelry on the floor or any hard surface can be remarkably damaging.
- A good rule of thumb is to always remove jewelry over a table (no food near by!) or over a bed so that if it slips out of your hand, it won’t plummet several feet to the floor.
- The bathroom is the worst place to take off your jewelry. There are drains and toilets for it to disappear into, hard surfaces for it to fall on, not to mention the humidity and household chemicals.
- If a ring is stuck on your finger, the first thing to do is cover the sink drain with a tight weave cloth. Next use cool soapy water to coax the ring off your hand. Avoid using glass cleaner spray as a lubricant; this can chemically damage your jewelry.
- Jewelry should never be tossed onto a dresser, into a drawer or travel bag. This leads to scratched jewelry and fractured gemstones.
- Diamonds are the hardest mineral, they will scratch all other gemstones and many gemstones will scratch precious metals
- Keep each item wrapped or boxed separately. Pearls should be stored in a soft cloth.
- Exposure to air and light promotes tarnish on sterling silver. Store it in a dark dry place.
- Store jewelry in moderate temperatures and moderate humidity levels
- Do not store jewelry in very dry or very humid/damp places.
- Do not store jewelry in sunny places, like near a window.
- Refasten necklace and bracelet clasps before storage
- Never hang a strand of pearls or other strung necklace. Instead, lay the necklace flat to prevent the thread from stretching out of shape.
- Do not keep jewelry in the bathroom or in the kitchen, even temporarily
- Before you start cleaning, consider the most delicate part of your jewelry. Cleaning products and methods appropriate for some metals and stones can be damaging to others.
- Cleaning your jewelry in the sink is risky, instead, use a bowl. Should you drop the jewelry or if a stone falls out, you can easily retrieve it from the bowl. If you must use the sink, cover the drain with a tight weave cloth. Check your jewelry carefully before draining the water.
- Clean your diamonds using a toothbrush and a mix of sudsy ammonia and water, or soapy water. (Ammonia can damage some other gemstones.)
- Avoid touching clean diamonds with your fingers; they are magnets for oil and grease.
- Most colored gems can be safely cleaned with warm water, a mild non-detergent soap, and a soft tooth brush. Dry with a soft towel, avoid paper towels.
- For softer gems like pearls, use warm water, a mild non-detergent soap, but not a brush.
- After each wear wipe pearls with a clean, soft, damp cloth.
- Pearls should avoid ammonia, ultrasonic or steam cleaning.
- Some colored gems should also avoid ammonia, ultrasonic and steam cleaning.
- Silver can be cleaned with mild soapy water or a silver jewelry polishing cloth (not for use on gems). Stubborn tarnish can be removed with a commercial cleaner designed for silver jewelry. Be sure to read the label and avoid use on gems.
- Gold can be cleaned using warm water with a few drops of ammonia and mild detergent. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to remove grease and oil. (Avoid gems!)
- Restore the shine of precious metals by rubbing with a soft chamois cloth.
- Always read and heed label information if you use commercial jewelry cleaners. If you aren’t sure, don’t use it! Example: If a tarnish remover isn’t labeled for use on sterling silver, don’t use it on sterling silver. Always avoid getting cleaners on gems!
- Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about how to clean my jewelry.
Pearl care is not difficult. It simply requires an understanding that pearls are a soft and vulnerable organic material.
- The rule of last item put on, first item taken off especially applies to pearls. It’s important to remember to take off pearl jewelry when re-applying perfume throughout the day or putting on insect repellant and sunscreen.
- Store pearls separately to avoid scratches from other jewelry.
- Pearls can be stored in a satin pouch, linen handkerchief or soft tissue.
- Do not store for extended periods in airtight packaging like plastic bags, pearls need moisture so they do not dry out and crack.
- Do not store near radiator or near a sunny window
- After each use, wipe pearls with a clean, soft, damp cloth to remove build-up, dirt, and oil.
- Do not soak pearls, this can loosen setting and weaken strands/knots.
- Clean pearls with mild soapy water. Do not use a toothbrush; they can scratch your pearls.
- Avoid using commercial jeweler cleaning products unless specified on the label.
In addition to previously mentioned jewelry care instructions, pearls must also avoid:
- Salad dressing
- Fruit juice
- Other acids
- Hot water
- Extreme temperatures
- Steam and steam cleaning
- Ultrasonic cleaners