Well treated jewelry can last a lifetime and beyond. Here are some tips keep your fine jewelry looking nice and to prevent damage before it happens.
* Remove rings and bracelets before cleaning house, gardening, or doing rough work. The abrasives, household cleaning chemicals, and just plain wear & tear can be hard on jewelry.
* Keep all your fine jewelry in a compartmentalized jewelry box, preferably fabric lined. Leather lined is beautiful, but the chemicals in it can effect some jewelry. It can also be stored in individual silk or zip-loc bags, or wrapped in tissue paper. The idea is to keep individual pieces from scratching each other and to keep the chains from tangling.
* Rings and bracelets are especially prone to heavy wear, even more so if you wear them every day. They should be inspected by a trained professional yearly, or every 6 months if they are worn every day and/or you are an active person.
* Remove all Jewelry before showering or cleaning. Soap & hair products will leave a dull film on gold jewelry and cause soap build up behind stones.
* Apply any cosmetics, hair spray, and lotion before donning jewelry. This is especially true for pearls. The oils and chemicals in them can leave a film which attracts grime, and can even damage some colored stones and pearls.
* Both ultra-sonic cleaners and jewelry steam cleaners should be used with caution. Pearls and some gemstones cannot take the heat and pressure, and can be damaged. Make sure you are aware of which stones can safely be used with your cleaner, and note the condition of any prongs holding them in. Sometimes, if prongs are worn, the only thing holding the stone in is dirt. On a very worn setting, if you blast out the dirt with a steam cleaner, the stone may come flying out too. Make sure you check with your jeweler at least once a year for wear and loose prongs or stones.
* Most other jewelry, with the exception of some opals, may be cleaned with a solution of 1 part ammonia to 4 parts warm water and an old, soft, worn toothbrush. Do not add ammonia when cleaning delicate stones like emeralds and opals. See below sections for how to clean jewelry with specific gems/pearls.
* Bezel settings for stones (settings where the metal goes all the way around the stone) are generally longer wearing than prongs. Get your stone bezel set if possible. If you must use prongs, the most durable are made of platinum, followed by 14 karat white gold, then 14 karat yellow gold, then 18 karat gold. Channel set and pave set stones can be even more vulnerable than prong set stones because the settings tend to be more delicate. If you have a ring or bracelet with prong settings, or with channel or pave settings, have them checked every six months.
* Remove jewelry before entering a swimming pool or hot tub. Chlorine is especially hard on gold, attacking the alloys, and can even eat holes in the gold.
* Apply any cosmetics, hair spray, and lotion before donning pearls. The oils and chemicals in them can leave a film which attracts grime, and can even damage pearls.
* Keep pearls separate from other jewelry items, etc. as they are delicate and easily scratched.
* Have your pearls strung with a knot between each pearl to prevent wear between the pearls and to prevent loss of pearls should the string break. The traditional string is silk, and silk is great for fine garments and not the best for pearls. Have them strung on a synthetic fiber other than nylon. (Nylon stretches in cold weather and tightens in hot weather.) Synthetic fibers have several advantages; they are stronger and more durable, and they last longer. Sharon Amber uses synthetic fibers for all her pearl stringing.
* If your pearls are strung on silk, DO NOT get them wet! The silk inside the pearl takes forever to dry, and in the meantime, it rots, and your pearls are not safe. If they are strung on silk, have them re-strung every six months. If they are strung on synthetic fibers, you can go much longer, however, it’s a good idea to have them at least checked every year, and strung yearly if you wear them frequently.
* If your pearls are strung on synthetic cord, it’s best to use a water and a mild soap (Woolite brand is especially good) to wash them after taking them off. This will remove traces of cosmetics, perfume, and skin oils, which are slightly acidic and can attack the pearls luster. Lay on a soft cotton towel to dry.
* Remove rings and bracelets before doing rough work. Diamonds are the hardest substance known, and very tough, and even so can be broken or chipped with a sharp blow.
* Diamonds are like magnets for any kind of oil, and the oil will dull their brilliance. So clean them often, and remove rings before putting on lotions or cosmetics.
* If in good condition and not cracked, diamonds may be cleaned with ultrasonic jewelry cleaners, jewelry steam cleaners, or soaked in a brand name liquid jewelry cleaner. Gold jewelry can be polished with a jewelry polishing cloth. Sharon Amber offers all of these for sale. See also: “General Jewelry Care” above.
* Diamond jewelry may also be soaked in warm ammonia water (about half and half ratio) and cleaned with a worn, soft toothbrush; provided there are no other types of stones in the jewelry.
* Keep diamonds from touching other fine jewelry. The diamonds, being so much harder, will scratch anything they come in contact with; even each other.
COLORED STONE CARE
* Care for different types of colored gems varies greatly, we wont cover all of them here
* Emeralds are delicate stones and they are brittle. Prevent hard knocks! Since they are usually highly included, (included means cracks, crack like structures, and clouds and imperfections in the stones), most of them have been commonly “oiled” for centuries. There are other treatments today, such as injecting epoxy into these cracks, and most treatments, if not all, are susceptible to common cleaning methods. The oiling process involves soaking in warm oil for several days or weeks to hide the inclusions and make them appear greener. Emeralds should NEVER go into an ultra sonic cleaner or be steam cleaned, as these processes can drive out the oil making them appear like gravel from the parking lot. They can also crack the stone. (Emeralds can sometimes be re-oiled if accidentally damaged by ultra sonic cleaners. Please contact Sharon if you have this problem.)*
* Opals are also in the category of delicate stones. It’s best to have your jeweler clean you opal jewelry. Protect opals from hard knocks, and do not keep them in a sunny window. They are composed partly of water, and if they are in a warm dry place the water can evaporate and lead to cracks in the opal. The glues used to assemble “triplet” or “doublet” opals are prone to get cloudy and should not be allowed to get wet. (Sharon never used doublets or triplets, or synthetic opals, preferring the natural, solid opals. She has some very fine opals!) * Tanzanite is yet another highly prized and very delicate gemstone. Tanzanite is brittle and should be protected from hard knocks, and should not be sonic or steam cleaned.
* If you need information about another gem, send us an e-mail and Sharon Amber will be happy to discuss it with you.
*GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is a fantastic resource for any gem related topics, including cleaning and care, Just search the stone you'd like to know more about! GIA Link