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Although fine jewelry is made from some of the world's most durable
substances, gemstones and precious metals, it does need some care. Following a
few easy guidelines will make sure that your jewelry pieces last for generations
still looking like the day you bought them.
First of all: keep them
clean! Lotions, powders, soaps, and natural skin oils can build up on jewelry,
cutting down on the brilliance of the gems. Rings in particular tend to collect
dust and soap behind the stone, particularly if you wear them all the time. To
clean transparent crystalline gemstones, simply soak them in water with a touch
gentle soap or ammonia. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub
behind the stone. After brushing, simply rinse with lukewarm water and allow
them to dry. Grease can be removed from plain karat gold jewelry by dipping it
into ordinary rubbing alcohol. Rubbing with a soft chamois cloth is an effective
way to keep gold jewelry shining.
Store your jewelry in a clean, dry
place: a fabric-lined jewelry case or box with compartments and dividers is
ideal. If you prefer to use an ordinary box, wrap each piece individually in
soft tissue paper. Don't jumble your jewelry pieces in a drawer or jewelry case.
Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don't
scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is
set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you
throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.
your jewelry in chemicals like chlorine. It's a good idea to remove jewelry
before entering a chlorinated pool or hot tub or putting your hands into water
with bleach. Chlorine, especially at high temperatures, can permanently damage
or discolor your gold jewelry.
There are many types of small machines on
the market that will clean jewelry in a matter of minutes using high-frequency
sound. These ultrasonic cleaners can be a convenient way to quickly clean your
jewelry at home. However, ultrasonic cleaners can damage some jewelry,
particularly pieces set with pearls or colored gemstones.
hardest gemstones can be vulnerable to breakage if they have inclusions that
weaken the crystal structure. Exercise common sense: remove your jewelry during
strenuous work or exercise. Diamonds are the hardest substance on earth but they
can shatter in two with a single well-placed blow. Rubies and sapphires are the
toughest gems but even they can chip if hit sharply. Take particular care if you
have a ring set with a gem variety with a hardness less than 7 or an included
stone. Treat each piece of fine jewelry you own with respect and you will enjoy
Jewelry Requiring Special Care
Apply cosmetics, hair sprays and perfume before putting on
any pearl jewelry. When you remove the pearl jewelry, wipe it carefully with a
soft cloth to remove any traces of these substances.
You can also wash
your pearl jewelry with mild soap and water. Do not clean cultured pearls with
any chemicals, abrasives or solvents. These substances can damage your pearls.
Do not toss your cultured pearl jewelry carelessly into a purse, bag or
jewel box. A pearl's surface is soft and can be scratched by hard metal edges or
by the harder gemstones of other jewelry pieces. Place cultured pearls in a
chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away.
Clean your sterling
silver jewelry with a mild soap and water solution, allowing the water to bead
up, and then patting dry with a soft cloth. For more stubborn dirt, use a
jewelry cleaner designed for silver use. (If you do use silver cleaner, make
sure you keep it away from any gems set in the silver.) Store silver in a cool,
dry place, preferably in a tarnish-preventive bag or wrapped in a soft piece of
felt or cloth. Store pieces individually so that they don't knock together and
scratch. Do not rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or a fine
piece of felt. Tissue paper or paper towels can cause scratches because of the
fibers in these products. Make sure your silver is not exposed to air and light
during storage: this can cause silver to tarnish. And don't wear sterling silver
in chlorinated water or when working with household chemicals.
Opal, Coral, Amber and Opaque Gems
Opals require special care. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner,
never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light, which can dry out the water
in opals. Opal rings should not be worn during strenuous work or exercise: they
will chip if hit with a sharp blow. Organic gems like coral and amber should
only be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems
are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or
perfume: they can, over time, damage organic gems. Opaque gemstones like lapis
lazuli, turquoise, and malachite, require special care. Never use an ultrasonic
cleaner and never use ammonia or any chemical solution. These gem materials
should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be
porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the
stone and discolor it.
The reason why these materials need more care than
transparent gemstones is that these materials are essentially rocks, not
crystals of a single mineral. Think about it: when you put a rock in water, it
absorbs the water and is moist all the way through. A single crystal gem like
sapphire will not absorb water: all the molecules are lined up so tightly in the
crystal that there is no room for water to enter.