Tips for Care and Cleaning of Fine Jewelry
Although fine jewelry is fairly durable, it does require some special care. Following a few simple guidelines will ensure your jewelry lasts for generations.
Rubbing the pieces you wear everyday with a soft chamois is an excellent – and easy – way to keep your jewelry sparkling.
For more intensive cleaning, fill a plastic bowl with tepid water and a little dishwashing soap or ammonia. Soak your jewelry for a few minutes and then scrub it gently with a toothbrush or other soft brush. Rinse and pat dry on a nice soft cloth that doesn’t have loose threads that could get stuck in prongs. A touch of ammonia in the rinse water will add sparkle to diamond, gold, or platinum jewelry.
Ultrasonic cleaners are great for easily cleaning jewelry with lots of nooks and crannies, but be aware that they can damage gemstones and the chemicals are not recommended for pearls. These machines are designed for certain gemstones that are not porous. Do not put emeralds, opals, pearls, or turquoise in an ultrasonic.
Even the hardest gemstones can be vulnerable to breakage. That’s why carefully storing your jewelry is so important. Jewelry boxes can be a bad idea if all of your pieces are piled on top of each other. Remember diamonds, rubies, and sapphires can easily scratch other gems, metals and each other. The best idea is to wrap pieces individually to keep them pristine – paying special attention to softer gems like pearls, opals, and tanzanites. To prevent sterling silver from tarnishing, store silver jewelry in plastic bags with interlocking seals.
Jewelry Requiring Special Care
After wearing, wipe your pearls with a soft cloth to remove any traces of makeup, perfume or hair spray. For more thorough cleaning, pearls can be washed in mild soap and water. Never use any chemicals or abrasives to clean your pearls. A pearl’s surface is soft and can scratch easily so extra care must be taken when storing pearls. Place them in a chamois bag or wrap them in soft tissue to protect them from hard metal edges and gemstones.
Clean your silver jewelry with mild soap and water. Allow the water to bead up, and then pat dry with a soft cloth. For more stubborn dirt, use a jewelry cleaner designed for silver use. Store silver jewelry in a cool, dry place – preferably in a tarnish-preventive bag or wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. Make sure your silver is not exposed to air and light during storage: this can cause silver to tarnish. Do not rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or a fine piece of felt.
Opal, Coral, Amber and Opaque Gems
These gems are particularly soft and porous and require special attention. NEVER use an ultrasonic cleaner, ammonia, or any chemical solution when cleaning opals, coral, amber, or opaque gems (lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite). All of these gems are best cleaned by carefully wiping with a moist cloth.
Important Do’s and Don’ts
- DO store jewelry separately so it doesn’t scratch other jewelry.
- DO get pearls restrung every two years or so.
- DO check for loosened stones. With your index finger, gently tap the piece near your ear and listen for rattling.
- DO clean fine jewelry often to maintain its beauty and sparkle.
- DON’T wear rings when doing housework, exercise, or gardening.
- DON’T put your jewelry on when washing your hands and applying any makeup or hair spray.
- DON’T wear jewelry while swimming in a swimming pool. The chlorine can cause damage to various gemstones and gold. Gemstones may become loose in their settings and fall out.
- DON’T use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. The abrasives can damage softer gems and metals.
As a rule, try to protect all of your jewelry from scratches, sharp blows, harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures and sunlight. Treat each piece of fine jewelry with respect and you will enjoy it forever.