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Jewelry Blog: Jewelry Tips
How to Care for Fine Jewelry?
Aug-20-2007
The best piece of jewelry is nothing but a chunk of metal or rock without its partner, light. Its beauty depends on the ability to reflect light, turning it into glitter and fire. The enemy of such beauty is dirt, because dirt swallows light. Taking steps to keep your fine pieces clean and pristine will pay you back in brilliance.


rolo link gold chain
The first consideration in maintaining the beauty of your treasures is storing them properly. Some people (i.e., my wife) store their chains in a tangle, like snakes in a pit. Smooth planes of gold reflect light; when those planes are scratched as the pieces rub against one another, the gold becomes dull. Ideally, chains and necklaces are best stored hanging, to allow them to retain their shape.

Jeweled rings also deserve their own space, whether in a soft-lined slot in your jewelry box (you do have a good jewelry box, don't you?) or in individual boxes or cloth bags. Pearls are especially vulnerable to abrasion, and a jewelry sachet will help keep them at their best.

The second step to maintaining light is to take care as you put on your jewelry. Wait until after you've applied your makeup, hair spray, perfume, hand cream, or suntan lotion, and wash your hands before donning your jewelry. Make jewelry the last thing you put on when dressing and first off when you disrobe, to keep them shining.

The third step in keeping the beauty of your collection intact is proper cleaning. You may have had occasion to have a jeweler clean and polish your diamond ring . Remember the surprise you felt when you saw its original gleam return? You can maintain that fire between jeweler visits.

The main enemy to gems such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires is grease. In fact, rough diamonds are separated from other stones by tumbling them across a grease table, because diamonds stick to grease, and vice versa. Even the oil from your finger is enough to coat your stone and block light.

To clean diamonds, rubies and sapphires, soak them in a mild ammonia solution (1 part ammonia, 10 parts water) for 10 minutes, then gently scrub with a soft brush such as a toothbrush. Be sure to brush the underside of the gem as best you can, too; much of its brilliance depends on the reflection of light off the bottom facets. And, PLEASE, unless you are fond of taking plumbing apart, don't work over an open sink. I speak from unfortunate experience.

gemstone ring

Other clear stones such as topaz, amethyst, citrine, and peridot can be cleaned with a weak solution of liquid dish soap and water, again scrubbing gently with a soft brush, rinsing thoroughly and drying. Emeralds are an exception; because they are so rare, many that are used in jewelry have pits and flaws that are filled with oil. Soap or ammonia can wash away that oil, and diminish their beauty, so limited your cleaning to swipes of a water-moistened cloth.

Translucent or opaque gems such as opals and turquoise should also receive this delicate treatment. Dry-brush away dirt, then gently clean with a soft, damp cloth.

Gold also is best cleaned with a liquid dish soap solution. To clean a chain, stretch a section over the back of your hand until it is taut and brush it link by link. Dirt and grease often hide within the link. Rinse well, pat dry, and finish with a light rubbing of a gold polishing cloth such as those sold in any jewelry store.

diamond pearl ring

Pearls are a different matter; they actually need a bit of oil to maintain their luster. By wearing them against your skin, the little bit of skin oil they pick up suffices. If they have been stored for a long time, though, a very, very light rubbing with a cloth moistened with olive oil will help them regain their sheen. Never immerse pearls in liquid, as dirt will stain the silk string. If they seem dirty, wipe them carefully with a clean, soft cloth. If the pearls slide freely within the strand, or the silk seems discolored, it's time to have them restrung.

The reason that jewelry looks so amazing in the store is that jewelers understand about light, and every piece in the case is kept scrupulously clean so that the sparkle is maximized. Keep your treasures the same and light will be your friend, too.
Posted by Tom B at 11:25 AM - Link to this entry  Share this entry
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