Precious Jewelry Needs Care
The very nature of jewelry is precious. Composed of rare gems and expensive metals sculpted into delicate forms, one of the reasons we have chosen to adorn ourselves with it throughout history is that its delicate appearance belies the strength of the materials from which it is made. If cared for properly, our most precious pieces can easily outlast us to be handed down from generation to generation. But there are a handful of things many of us do on a regular basis that can almost guarantee we destroy our favorite jewelry pieces. The ten things listed below are things we must never do if we want our most cherished heirlooms to last for our children and grandchildren in the years to come.
1. Neglecting Routine Cleaning
Over and over again through the years, clients have walked into the store to tell me proudly that they had never taken their engagement ring off since the day it was placed on their finger – and sadly, it showed. To maintain its beauty and structural integrity, jewelry must be routinely inspected and cleaned…especially the pieces we wear every day. Those same rings that were so proudly worn as an extension of our clients themselves were invariably caked with lotions and dirt when we finally convinced them to let us inspect their pieces. In many cases, the owner would be absolutely shocked when we returned their ring to them, stunned by how brightly they once again shone in the light.
All precious gems look their best when free of dirt and oils, so it is important to at a minimum clean our daily wear pieces at least once a week, and to wipe down and carefully store the pieces we wear on special occasions after each wear. Not only does this maintain the beauty of the piece, it leads to early detection of missing prongs and loose stones so that they can be easily repaired before the damage becomes serious.
2. Cleaning your Jewelry with Harsh Cleansers
While diamonds, rubies, and sapphires are the hardest of gems, many precious stones are much more delicate and must be cleaned carefully to maintain their luster. Soft stones like opal, turquoise, and coral can be harmed irreparably by chemical cleansers, and rough scrubbing can scratch the surface of delicate gems like pearls. In almost all cases, a soft baby’s toothbrush, warm (not hot) water, and a bit of dishsoap are all that are needed to maintain the beauty of our special pieces. Place a soft cloth in the bottom of the sink to protect the item if it is dropped (this will also keep it from falling down the drain!), and use soft, gentle pressure to remove residue from the tops and undersides of the piece. Rinse and wipe dry with a microfiber towel. Sometimes, simple is best.
3. Wearing Jewelry in the Pool and Shower
Chlorine may keep pools safe and hygienic, but it is death for gold and precious gems. The chemicals can literally eat away at the material over time, damaging its structural integrity and dulling the stones permanently in some cases. Likewise, hardwater and soap scum are hard to remove, and the chemicals present in soaps and shampoos may damage pieces over time.
4. Skipping Routine Inspections and Maintenance
Like most expensive items, jewelry must be properly maintained to ensure that we get to fully enjoy our pieces for the length of time intended when they were created. Broken pearl strands and missing stones can usually be easily avoided if we make the time to have our jewelers provide routine check-ups for our pieces. A nagging prong that catches on sweaters can quickly lead to a lost diamond if not repaired, and because gold is a soft metal it wears over time – in extreme cases bands can break at the shank once worn beyond a certain point. Jewelers recommend inspections every six months, but even once a year will help to ensure that your favorite gems remain in tip-top condition for years to come.
5. Jumbled Piles in the Bottom of the Jewelry Box
Keeping our jewelry in cluttered piles isn’t just disorganized – it frequently leads to kinks, tangles, and scratches. Gold scratches gold and diamonds scratch almost everything, so allowing our earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to haphazardly rub against each other diminishes the longevity and the beauty of these items. Instead, invest in a compartmentalized jewelry box with a soft lining, and allow each piece its own space to shine. When traveling, take time to bag each item in small plastic baggies individually to ensure that the pieces aren’t jostled against each other in your suitcase instead of inadvertently destroying your favorite jewelry.
Like all major expenditures in our lives, our jewelry is something we purchase with pride and admiration for its beauty and quality. To keep it that way, follow the tips and tricks above, and you can proudly hand your treasured pieces down to your children’s children.