Jewelry is so much more than adornment - it’s our spiritual armor. Everyday, we wear the pieces that symbolize who we are: pieces rich in sentiment and love. If you’re passionate about jewelry, you know that learning to care for your treasures is an important part of being a collector. By taking the time to care for and maintain your most adored pieces, you can help them withstand the test of time, sustain their value, and get the proper respect they deserve.
When caring for your jewelry, here are some simple yet important tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep it clean!
Lightly scrubbing your jewelry with a soft toothbrush is a great way to clean your favorite pieces at home. (photo source: Abbot & Rinehart Jewelers)
What’s better than jewelry? Clean jewelry! No matter how careful you are when wearing them, your favorite pieces can become dirty with normal day-to-day use. Accumulated oils and dirt can cause stones to loosen, and cleaning your jewelry regularly will help you prevent damage and costly repairs. When cleaning your jewels, keep in mind the design of each piece - the antiquity and condition of your jewels will affect how you should clean them.
If you feel comfortable doing so, save money by avoiding a special jewelry cleaner and doing it yourself at home. You won't need any harsh cleaning solutions with ammonia or vinegar - a simple solution can be made by adding a slippery cleaning product, such as Windex or Mr. Clean, to a small cup of hot water. Dip a soft toothbrush in this solution and lightly scrub your piece: top, bottom, and sides. Don't forget to scrub underneath the stone, too! Be sure to clean your piece on a toweled surface to prevent slipping. We are also more than happy to offer this service at no charge to any of our clients, especially for jewels that we have sold.
2. Check for loose stones
You can check for loose stones by using a "shake or wiggle" test.
It’s important to check if your jewelry is secure. For a solitaire piece, a simple “shake or wiggle” test will help you determine the security of your center stone. If a stone appears loose when you lightly shake your piece, have us or your local jeweler check and tighten the prongs.
3. The less wear, the better
We know how hard it can be to take off a piece of jewelry that you particularly love, but we highly recommend that you avoid wearing your jewelry when it isn’t necessary or during high-risk activities.
Also, be mindful of how you store your jewelry! For example, you'll want to lay your necklaces flat, rather than having them hanging, to prevent gravity from wearing them down more quickly. If you'll be storing your jewelry in a vault, be mindful that vaults are dehydrated and cause certain stones, like opal, to "craze" or crack. Research your particular stones more deeply to know what sort of storage would be best suited for them.
Try to avoid wearing rings and other jewelry when sleeping, exercising, and cleaning.
The following activities can impose serious risks for your jewelry - so, if possible, avoid wearing your jewelry during these times:
- Sleeping: Taking off your ring at night won’t bring bad luck to your marriage… we promise! Wearing a ring for 5-8 hours of sleep can pose a risk to the main prongs or delicate attributes of an antique piece. These effects can be even worse for pieces with added weight and pressure - such as earrings, necklaces, or bracelets.
- Exercising: When exercising, consider the level of activity and movement you’re engaging in and how it could affect your jewelry. If you don’t mind cleaning your jewelry often, simple activities like jogging may not be an issue. However, you’ll want to avoid heavy lifting and gripping while wearing a ring, to reduce any stress on the shake that could eventually create cracks in the structure of the ring’s setting.
- Swimming: It’s risky to wear jewelry in water - whether it’s in a pool, the ocean, or even jacuzzi or bathtub. Wearing a piece of jewelry in water increases the risk of losing or damaging it. Most Georgian pieces (especially foil-backed ones) cannot get wet, and antique jewels with multiple small accent stones are at risk of falling apart while swimming or submerged in water. (Also, be sure to avoid wearing precious metals in chlorine pools and jacuzzis at all costs. The chlorine can harm gold, platinum, and silver, and can even cause the metal to become brittle or develop porosity. Sulfuric water, such as the water found in hot springs, is especially damaging to sterling silver. Wearing sterling silver in sulfuric water will cause the silver to oxidize and darken, dramatically changing the natural patina of an antique piece.)
- Cleaning: Gonna be doing some deep cleaning around the house? Take your jewelry off! Try to also remove your jewelry when taking a shower. Soaps, lotions, and cleaning products can build up underneath your gems and prevent them from sparkling to their fullest potential.
And there you have it - some basic tips to keep in mind when caring for your jewelry! These simple tricks will help you maintain your jewelry’s full brilliance, so that you can enjoy your favorite pieces for years to come.