If you love jewelry, it’s easy to invest a small fortune in a collection, whether your passion is precious gemstones and metals or fashion jewelry. Whether fine or fashion, regard you jewelry collection as an investment that needs your TLC.
Know What Jewelry You Have
Fine jewelry and fashion jewelry don’t mix whether you’re wearing them, cleaning them, or storing them. Knowing whether your jewelry is fine or fashion is essential to proper care.
Keep fashion jewelry completely separate from fine jewelry. Use different drawers or compartments in a large jewelry case or consider purchasing individual cases.
Heirloom pieces may be costume jewelry, but they’re still full of irreplaceable value. If you’re in doubt as to whether stones or metals are precious or paste, have them examined by a professional jeweler. (Wouldn’t be great to find out that those rummage sale rhinestones are real diamonds?)
Know When to Wear Your Jewelry
- Common sense tells you to remove your jewelry during strenuous work or exercise. Still, take special care to remove jewelry even when engaged in routine household tasks.
Cleaning solvents can damage both soft gemstones and precious metals. Even gardening grit can leave scratches and most importantly, accidentally catching your jewelry on something as simple as a cleaning cloth can result in injury to both you and your jewelry
- Remove rings before you apply hand or body creams
- Put jewelry on after applying makeup, perfume and hairspray
- Remove all jewelry before having your hair styled. Chemicals in coloring agents and perm solutions can do permanent damage to both precious metals and gems
- Remove jewelry before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub. Chlorine, especially at high temperatures, can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry
Storing Your Jewelry
- When removing necklaces, hold them at one end and gently wipe oils and dust from them, using a jeweler’s cloth, chamois, or other smooth, soft cloth. (Paper towels can scratch some metals and fabric like terry cloth can snag and break delicate chains.)
At the same time, gently remove any kinks from chains and check them for damage
- Before storing necklaces, remembering to refasten the clasps to help prevent knots and kinks in jewelry chains
- Keep jewelry items separate. Use a different compartment in your jewelry box for each piece, Diamonds, the hardest mineral, will scratch all other gemstones and most gemstones will scratch precious metals
- Exposure to air and light helps create tarnish on sterling silver. Safely store your silver in a dark dry place, covering it with felt or velvet
- Pearls should be clean and dry before storage. Store them in their own silk or cotton pouch
Cleaning Your Jewelry
- A mild soap and water solution used with a soft brush effectively cleans most jewelry
- Cleaners that contain abrasives – including toothpaste – can damage soft metals and gemstones
- Rubbing with a soft chamois is an effective way to restore the shine and luster of precious metals
- Don’t use hard objects like toothpicks to clean around pronged settings
- Don’t soak pearl strands or other necklaces with knotted strands. Soaking weakens and stretches knotting fibers
Commercial Jewelry Cleaning Solutions
If you use commercial jewelry cleaners, always pay strict attention to the label. When in doubt, DON’T! For example, if a tarnish remover isn’t specifically labeled for use on sterling silver, don’t use it on sterling silver.
Home Ultrasonic Cleaners for Jewelry?
The biggest benefit in home ultrasonic cleaners is to the person who sells them. Although they are safe for strong gems, they can loosen gems from settings and damage porous gems such as pearls and opals.
Fine jewelry should be checked at least twice a year for wear and the security of settings. Pearls need periodic restringing to protect against breakage and loss. Many professional jewelers offer free cleaning and examinations. Take advantage of this service to ensure the safety of your fine jewelry.