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One of the most important things you can do for your fine jewelry
is to have is professionally checked, yearly if possible. Sometimes
a jeweler, armed with a 10 power loupe, can see problems before they
get out of hand. Prongs that are worn, or even missing, can be repaired
before a stone falls out. Gems can be tightened or straightened, and
clasps that are wearing thin can be replaced. ItÕs usually easier and
less costly to catch a potential problem at this point than after the
damage is done. During this visit, cleaning your jewelry is a good
idea too, especially since the best results come from the jewelry workshop.
But IÕll give you some options to use at home, too. HereÕs the breakdown,
along with some tips on caring for your fine jewelry.
Diamonds have an affinity for grease, but what keeps them from looking
dull faster is a diamondÕs ability to reflect light so well. Eventually,
though, they need to be cleaned. The most effective method is a professional
ultrasonic cleaner (the ones purchased for home use are less efficient).
YouÕre welcome anytime to bring in your diamond jewelry to the shop
for cleaning, which takes just a moment (and I like to take a moment
to check the settings first to make sure the stones are secure).
next best thing is to clean them at home. This low tech method seems
to work just fine: place diamond jewelry in very hot water mixed with
a little dishwashing detergent, let it soak and, before the water gets
cool, toothbrush the piece (especially in back of the stone). Diamonds
can take a lot of heat, so donÕt worry about the temperature of the
water. You may need to repeat the process if it hasnÕt been cleaned
in a while. The key here is to do it often so that hand soap, lotion,
etc. donÕt get a chance to build up and harden over time.
As far as caring for your diamond goes, diamonds are the hardest gem,
so itÕs unlikely that it might get scratched. But diamonds are not
the toughest gem. A sharp blow in the right place can result in a chip,
or even crack. ItÕs best not to wear a ring with a diamond set in prongs
when gardening or playing in that volleyball tournament.
Some of the same things apply here as they did for diamonds, with a
few exceptions. Many gems cannot be safely ultrasonically cleaned;
emerald, opals, and tanzanite are three. Most jewelers will know
which ones can be cleaned this way. Almost all gems can take a warm
soapy water bath and a little help from a toothbrush. Gems have different
levels of durability. In general, try to store your jewelry so the
items donÕt touch each other and possibly scratch over time. And
be sure not to wear rings or bracelets during an activity where you
think they could be harmed.
Cultured pearls are organic and very soft, and need extra care. Whether
set in precious metal or strung on as a strand, they can only be
cleaned with mild soap and water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly. If
theyÕre strung, dry them well too. A strand thatÕs worn often will
probably need to be restrung every couple of years. Silk is the best
ÒthreadÓ, and knotting is recommended for three reasons: if the strand
ever breaks you wonÕt have to search the floor for rolling pearls,
knots keep the pearls from rubbing against each other and wearing
down, and they look better! Try always to apply perfume, cosmetics,
and hair spray before putting on pearl jewelry since they will eventually
damage the surface of the pearl. And even more important than it
is with colored gems: be sure not to store other jewelry in contact
with your pearls. Tiny scratches will dull their lustrous surface.
Platinum is so easy to care for. ItÕs a very durable, strong, and dense
metal which will not wear down in time like gold (thatÕs why itÕs
my first choice for prongs in rings). And platinum is harder to scratch.
(For this reason, itÕs also harder to polish. We use special polishing
compounds and equipment specifically designed for platinum.) ItÕs
also hypoallergenic, doesnÕt tarnish, and isnÕt affected by most
Gold is another wonderful jewelry metal, but needs a little more care
than platinum. One important thing most people are not aware of is
its susceptibility to weakening from chlorine. Keep your gold away
from chlorine bleach and cleaners with chlorine, and if at all possible
remove before entering a pool or hot tub. Sometimes gold will tarnish
a bit in recessed areas over time. This can easily be removed by
a jeweler. Another tip that will keep your jewelry looking at its
best longer is to remove it before showering or cleaning. All soaps
leave a residue which builds up in time, and some of them harden
like a rock! But I always add a practical note here: if you think
thereÕs a chance of misplacing or losing your jewelry if you take
it off this often, just leave it on. Dull jewelry is better than
missing jewelry. And the residue can usually be removed with an ultrasonic
cleaner when you make that trip to the shop. Chains and pendants
will last longer of not worn to bed, especially flat or somewhat
stiff chains which can kink. And fine chains can be clasped shut
and stored (preferably hanging) so they donÕt tangle. As with gems,
gold jewelry can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a toothbrush.
If you want to restore the shine and canÕt get to the jewelerÕs,
itÕs sometimes possible to brighten it a little with a Òrouge clothÓ
which is a soft fabric impregnated with polishing compound.
Silver, with its own unique look, is the softest of the three precious
metals and will scratch much more easily. It also tarnishes very
quickly. An easy preventative is to place each piece in its own mini
zip lock bag (we can give you as many as you like) to keep it from
being re-exposed to air. Also, there are some commercial cleaners
that remove tarnish very well. But they wonÕt polish silver. For
that you need that handy jeweler (or a rouge cloth). All of the precautions
I discussed under ÒGoldÓ apply here too.