CARING FOR YOUR JEWELLERY
Proper care and handling of your jewellery can help it maintain its beauty and sparkle for years to come. When you have purchased a piece of jewellery, it is important to take proper care to ensure it lasts.
The hardness of a gem is based on a gem trade standard called Moh’s Scale, developed in the 19th century. The scale rates the hardness of a material out of 10 and at each higher number it can be abrasive to a material with a lower number. Diamonds are rated at the highest of 10; rubies and sapphires are 9; emeralds and topaz are 8; garnets, tourmalines and quartz are 7. Those materials below 7 can be scratched or chipped easily if not worn with care. These gemstones include including opal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, and pearl.
Gold, silver, and platinum metals are only rated at between 2.5 and 4 on Moh’s scale of hardness which means they require special care, cleaning and storage.
Ultrasonic machines use sound waves above the range of human hearing (called 'ultrasound' between 40-200kHz) and a solvent to clean ordinary items, like jewellery. Vibrations and heat work together with the solvent to clean items that otherwise may be too detailed or tricky to clean by hand. They are commonly used in jewellery cleaning as the process is quick (a typical cleaning cycle can take only 3-5 minutes) and it effective for cleaning small, intricate items. It is important that you understand whether your jewellery can be cleaned with an ultrasonic as some items can be irreparably damaged. Organic gems (such as amber, pearls, ivory and coral), porous gems (such as emerald and opal), gems with cracks or surface reaching inclusions, and gems that are susceptible to changes in temperature should never be put into an ultrasonic. It is always a good idea to talk to your jeweller if you are planning on using an ultrasonic to check if your items are safe to clean. If in doubt, have your items cleaned by a jewellery professional.
- It is very important to have your jeweller check your rings and other jewellery for wear and tear, especially gem set jewellery where the setting or claws can become worn. Have your jewellery cleaned and polished at least once a year. Your jeweller may recommend that this be done more frequently on certain pieces.
- Clean your diamonds with a mild liquid detergent and a soft brush, or one of the specially designed jewellery cleaners available from your jeweller. Make sure not to clean them in sink in the event a stone becomes loose, or the piece goes down the sink. Consider cleaning the jewellery item in a bowl. Make sure no gemstones have become loose and fallen out before you tip the cleaning solution down the sink!
- Be cautious about cleaning jewellery yourself without more specific knowledge about the material.
- Have your jeweller re-string your pearls once a year, as the strand could be stretched or worn if they have been in contact with chemicals such as perfumes and hairspray. Have pearls knotted between each one, this will prevent the loss of pearls if the string should break.
- Wash your pearls with a softened cloth of mild soap and water after taking off to remove perfume, hairspray, and cosmetics etc.
- Wrap your pearls in tissue paper or place in a cloth bag when storing and keep them in a box away from other jewellery as you don’t want your other jewellery to scratch the pearls.
- Store your jewellery in a jewellery roll when travelling, it will keep the jewellery organised and free from tangles and scratches.
- Ensure you are adequately insured and that you have up to date valuations. The JAA recommends having jewellery valued every 2 years. Check with your insurer to make sure of their requirements.
- Diamonds are durable, but they can chip. Avoid this by not wearing diamond jewellery while doing heavy manual work.
- Forget to have your jewellery checked by your jeweller at least once a year. This can help identify loose stones before they fall out or break.
- Wear rings that are too big for your fingers or earrings without proper clasps. You don't always notice you've lost a piece before it's too late.
- Never wear your jewellery whilst using household cleaners as they can contain chemicals which can be harmful to your precious jewellery.
- Never allow your jewellery to come into contact with chlorine bleach, as it can pit gold alloys.
- Never put your jewellery down thoughtlessly, as they can be easily misplaced or lost. Always put them into a lined box and store in a secure place.
- Never wear your jewellery while showering or applying cosmetics, as gold jewellery will develop a soapy/ greasy film and dull the appearance.
- Never expose your gemstones to salt water as this will dull and erode your gems.
- Never rub silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or piece of felt.
- Never allow sterling silver to come into contact with chlorine, as this will tarnish the jewellery.
- Never clean cultured pearls with chemicals or abrasives, as this will damage and scratch the surface of the pearls.
- Avoid allowing pearls to come into contact with perfumes, hairspray and cosmetics.
- Never wear jewellery to bed, while playing sport, or at the gym, as this may cause kinking, snagging or breakage.