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Jewelry Cleaning and Care

Jewelry Cleaning, Care, and Repair

Although gemstones are among the most durable of substances, they do need some care. Here are a few general rules to make sure that they last for generations, still looking like the day you bought them.

Frequent inspection and cleaning prevent jewelry loss and damage. When was the last time you brought your jewelry in for an inspection and a professional cleaning? If you can't remember exactly when it was, it's time to bring your jewelry in. Bring in your engagement ring, as well as any other rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings that you have. In fact, any jewelry you have with prongs or clasps should be checked regularly for signs of wear. Also, it's a fact that accumulated dirt and grime wear down your jewelry. A loose prong or clasp can result in the loss of a favorite - and valuable - piece of jewelry. Often a simple adjustment will take care of the problem. Even if a repair is needed, the cost will be considerably less than replacing a gemstone - or the entire piece of jewelry.
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 of gentle soap. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone. Even the hardest gemstone variety can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions that weaken the crystal structure. Exercise common sense: if you have a ring set with a softer gem variety or an included stone, take it off before strenuous exercise.
Diamonds are very hard but 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. Think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Diamonds and rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems may not be: when in doubt, leave it out. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires, and other single-crystal gems can be cleaned with a touch of ammonia in water to remove all films and add extra sparkle.
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. The 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.

Opals also 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.
Organic gems like pearls, 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 pearls in particular.
Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don't scratch softer ones.

Gold Always separate your gold jewelry in a compartmentalized jewelry box. This protects against scratching. Remove all jewelry before showering or cleaning, as soap can cause a film to form on gold jewelry, making it appear dull and dingy. By preventing the formation of this film, you immediately reduce the occasions your pieces will need to be cleaned. Keep your jewelry in a dry place.

Repeated exposure can weaken gold's structure, eventually leading to breakage. Try to keep your gold jewelry away from chlorinated cleaning products, swimming pools and jacuzzis.

Sterling Silver, as with other precious metals, will oxidize with time. Properly maintained, silver improves with age and develops a lush patina. Treat your silver well, care for it properly, and it will reward you with a long life and lustrous look. Store your silver in a cool, dry place, preferably in a tarnish-preventative bag or wrapped in a soft piece of felt or cloth. Store pieces individually so that they don't knock together and scratch. Don't expose to air and light when storing because it will cause silver to tarnish.

Finally, don't wear sterling silver in chlorine water.
Clean with a mild soap and water solution, allowing water to bead up, and pat dry with a soft cloth. For more stubborn dirt, a jewelry cleaner labeled for silver use is appropriate. Don't rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or fine piece of felt. Use of tissue paper or paper towels can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products.
Diamonds Even though you may wear your diamond engagement ring 24 hours a day, you should still give thought to its care. It should not be worn when you are doing rough work.

Even though a diamond is durable, it can be chipped by a hard blow. Don't let your diamond come in contact with a chlorine bleach when you're doing household chores.
It can damage and discolor the mounting. When you're not wearing diamonds they still require attention. Keep your precious pieces in a fabric-lined jewel case, or a box with compartments or dividers.
Don't toss your diamond pieces in a drawer because diamonds can scratch other jewelry and can even scratch each other.
Diamonds get smudged and soiled and dusty. Lotions, powders, soaps, and even the natural skin oils put a film on diamonds and cut down their brilliance. Chemicals in the air can also discolor the mountings. Clean diamonds glow because the maximum amount of light can then enter and return in a fiery brilliance. It takes just a little care to keep them that way.

Pearls, Cultured Pearls are precious jewels and should be treated as such. For a lifetime of beauty and elegance, you should follow a regiment of care. Treat pearls gently. Place them in a chamois bag or wrap them in tissue when putting them away. Don't toss them carelessly into a purse or jewel box where they can become scratched by hard metal edges or harder stones. Put on your pearls after applying cosmetics, hair sprays, and perfume.
For cleaning, wash your pearls with mild soap and water after taking them off. This will remove all traces of perfume, cosmetics, or hair spray from the pearls. Don't expose them to acid-based hair sprays, cosmetics, or perfumes. Also, don't clean them with chemicals or abrasives. Cosmetics and ordinary wear weaken and stretch the nylon threads on which the pearls are strung. Also, have pearls strung with a knot between each pearl. This will prevent loss of pearls if the string should break.

To clean your jewelry at home, use a soft toothbrush, lukewarm soapy water in a bowl with a strainer in your sink to avoid losing a loose stone (cleaning your jewelry can sometimes cause a stone to fall out of its setting due to the dirt and oil build up being the only thing holding the stone in).Rinse with clear water, then dry and polish with a soft chamois cloth. For harder-to-clean "gold-only" pieces, please contact me so I can clean them for a small fee.