Caring for your Fine Jewelry

Aug 27, 2015

By taking proper care of your fine jewelry, you’ll ensure that it will look its best for many years to come. Check out the tips below for the best ways to wear, clean, and store your jewelry to ensure its continued beauty and brilliance.

Wear

Some fine jewelry pieces, especially engagement and wedding rings, are designed to be suitable for everyday wear. However, there are still some times when you should take all of your jewelry off, even the most durable pieces. These occasions include:

  • Doing heavy manual labor, such as gardening or home repairs. While gemstones like moissanite and diamond are extremely durable, settings and prongs can get damaged during heavy work, causing the stones to become loose or even fall out!
  • Going swimming. Both chlorine and salt water can be very damaging to precious metals.
  • Cleaning with harsh chemicals. Household cleaning agents can corrode metal jewelry settings, and can even get trapped under rings and cause painful skin irritation.

Depending on the gemstone and/or metal, you may want to remove certain pieces of jewelry before any kind of potentially strenuous activity. For example, emerald has a hardness of only 7.5 (compared to 9.25 for moissanite), meaning that the stone can become scratched or even broken fairly easily.

Some gemstones, such as emeralds, are more susceptible to damage than others. Emerald Engagement Ring, Kristin Coffin, $1,500.

Some gemstones, such as emeralds, are more susceptible to damage than others. Emerald Engagement Ring, Kristin Coffin, $1,500.

Also, certain metals used in fine jewelry are softer than you might expect. Gold is one such example – it can become dented, scratched, or otherwise damaged by accidental hard blows.

Cleaning

It’s a good idea to have your fine jewelry cleaned by a professional once a year, according to the GIA.  Between regular cleanings, you can clean your jewelry at home. A few caveats, however. You shouldn’t clean your jewelry by yourself if…

  • The piece is an antique or heirloom. Leave it to the pros.
  • The piece is damaged in any way. You could inadvertently make it worse.
  • You’re not sure what cleaning method is appropriate. Ask your jeweler for help.

Some styles of jewelry are likely to require more frequent cleaning. Anything with a lot of nooks and crannies, like pavé, filigree, Celtic-inspired, or Milgrain pieces, can get dirt caught in hard-to-reach places. A professional jeweler, with the right tools, can get your ornate items looking as good as new!

Detailed rings like this one should be cleaned professionally more than once a year. Vintage Inspired Moissanite Engagement Ring, SerenadeDiamonds on Etsy, from $1,440

Detailed rings like this one should be cleaned professionally more than once a year. Vintage Inspired Moissanite Engagement Ring, SerenadeDiamonds on Etsy, from $1,440

The best home cleaning method for your fine jewels depends on two things: the metal, and the gem(s). You can buy cleaning solutions for specific kinds of metal (gold, silver, platinum) at your local retailer.  You can also clean most fine jewelry by soaking it in a bowl of warm water with a bit of dishwashing soap. Scrub any stubborn areas with a soft toothbrush, then lay out to dry.  For pearls, use a soft makeup brush to scrub.

Be extra careful cleaning pearls! They’re soft enough to be scratched by a toothbrush. Fiona Pearl and Moissanite Earrings, Moissanite.com, $1,099

Be extra careful cleaning pearls! They’re soft enough to be scratched by a toothbrush. Fiona Pearl and Moissanite Earrings, Moissanite.com, $1,099

Fine jewelry featuring sturdy metals like platinum and hard gems like moissanite* and diamond can be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner. Ultrasonic cleaners should NOT be used for jewelry featuring soft or porous gems such as pearls, opals, turquoise, or amber.

*A special note about moissanite gemstones: Sometimes moissanite (and certain other gemstones) can attract an organic film build-up, which resembles an “oil slick” atop the stone. This film isn’t permanent and can be removed with a special cleaning cloth. You can purchase this cloth at Moissanite.com. Be careful to use this cloth only on the stone itself, not on the setting. Be especially cautious with white gold moissanite jewelry, as the cloth can strip the rhodium plating from the metal. Alternatively, you can use any silversmith polish to scrub away the film.

Storage

The proper storage of fine jewelry tends to be overlooked; however, it can help ensure that your treasured items last as long and look as great as possible. As tempting as it might be for the slightly lazy among us, don’t just throw all of your jewelry together in one spot. Hard stones like moissanite can chip and damage other pieces of jewelry; plus, untangling them all can be very frustrating (we speak from experience)!

Instead, store your jewelry in a compartmentalized case or drawer. It’s best if the compartments are fabric-lined, but you can also line them yourself with tissue paper.

Got a lot of jewelry? Get a case like this to keep it all in tip-top shape! Leather Jewelry Box, Queen’s Court Collection by Wolf, Moissanite.com, $180

Got a lot of jewelry? Get a case like this to keep it all in tip-top shape! Leather Jewelry Box, Queen’s Court Collection by Wolf, Moissanite.com, $180

You can also keep your jewelry in the pouch or box that it came in – those are perfectly safe for storing individual pieces. If your jewelry is made of sterling silver, keep it in an anti-tarnish bag.  Also, some gemstones, like opals and pearls, need to “breathe” so they don’t crack. Don’t store them in anything airtight.

We hope these tips help you keep your jewelry looking amazing for years and years to come!

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