Caring for your jewelry
Jewelry is one of our most intimate and cherished accessories. Understanding how to care for and protect your treasured jewelry can make a world of difference in maintaining its beauty and keeping your heirlooms sparkling for generations to come.
Be careful with light and heat
Just as the sun’s harmful rays can damage our skin, light and heat can affect a colored gemstone’s durability and color. Over time, and in excess, they can also fade or damage some gemstones, such as amethyst, kunzite, topaz and shell cameos. Pearls and other delicate materials, such as ivory, will bleach under extreme exposure to light. Other gems, especially amber, can darken over time when exposed to too much light.
Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also fracture some gems. Heat can easily remove the natural moisture these gems need to keep their beauty. Pearls, for instance, can dry out, crack and discolor. Opals can turn white or brown, develop tiny cracks, and might lose their play-of-color.
Keep your jewelry away from chemicals
Exposure to chemicals can damage or discolor precious metals – gold, silver and platinum – and may harm some colored gems. Even everyday substances like hairspray, lotion, perfume or other cosmetics can contain chemicals that will permanently damage the surface of your pearls and other delicate or porous gems (like turquoise). Fine jewelry should be removed before diving into a chlorinated swimming pool or before using household cleaners. Many of these cleaners contain ammonia, which can be too harsh for delicate gems or vintage jewelry. Chlorine bleach, another common household solvent, can pit or damage gold alloys.
Give treated gems special care
Many colored gemstones are routinely treated to improve the appearance of color and clarity. These treatments can be negatively affected by heat, solvents, steam and ultrasonic cleaners. Knowing whether your gem has been treated is the first step to knowing how to care for it. This is where a GIA report comes in – it contains important information about your gem and any detectable treatments it may have undergone.
Use ultrasonic cleaners with caution
While you can purchase a professional ultrasonic cleaner for $150 or less, you should be aware that not all gems and jewelry can be safely cleaned in it.
Ultrasonic cleaners should not be used to clean:
- Gemstones with surface-reaching breaks that have been filled with a substance such as oil, resin or a glass-like material
- Organic gem materials such as pearls, coral, ivory, or amber
- Gems that have been coated with a non-permanent substance like plastic or wax
- Some heat-treated gemstones
- Gems that are susceptible to heat and temperature changes whether they are treated or not. Some of these gems include tanzanite, feldspar (sunstone and moonstone), fluorite, iolitem kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal, topaz, turquoise, zircon and others.
What’s more, the vibration generated by the machine can sometimes shake gems loose or chip gems that are set with their girdles touching.
This type of cleaning is best left to jewelry professionals who know about different gem materials and understand when and how to use the ultrasonic cleaner safely.
The safest cleaning methods are also the easiest
Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft brush. A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint-free cloth can also be used. Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a glass of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones – or even an entire piece of jewelry - if you rinse directly in the sink.
Soft gems, such as pearls, on the other hand, can easily scratch. Use a new, clean makeup brush and warm, soapy water to softly clean them. Lay a strand of pearls on a towel to dry. The wet silk thread can stretch − and attract dirt − so don’t touch your strand until it is completely dry. Pearls worn often should be restrung once a year.
Safely store your jewelry
Proper jewelry storage is often overlooked. Jewelry should never be tossed into a drawer or on top of a dresser − that’s asking for scratches and damaged gems.
Most jewelry pieces come in a box or pouch from the store, which is a perfect place to keep them. Sterling silver, for example, should be kept in an anti-tarnish bag or cloth. Jewelry boxes that feature individually padded slots for rings and posts for hanging necklaces and bracelets are also ideal.Pearls and opals draw moisture from the air, so storing your opal or pearl jewelry in a dry area, such as a safe deposit box, can sometimes do more harm than good.
When traveling, protect your jewelry pieces from scratches or other impact damage by padding it in a separate box or case.
Many jewelry stores offer free check-up or professional cleaning at scheduled intervals: Jewelry should be checked every six months and cleaned frequently. Look for a jeweler with professional training and a good reputation – asking friends or relatives for recommendations is a good place to start.
To prevent damage to your white, yellow or rose gold jewelry, we recommend you store it safely away from other pieces to avoid unnecessary scratches. Gold should be kept away from harsh chemicals, such as cleaning and beauty products, to avoid discoloration to the metal.
All our 18k white gold has been plated with a white rhodium finish, this is a layer of plating applied to the metal to emphasize the bright white finish of the metal and can be especially susceptible to discolouration when brought into contact with chemicals. Should this occur, you can bring these into your dealer which will ship back to us and we can offer you a rhodium plating service to bring back that white shine.
Platinum has the advantage of being a harder and a more durable than most wearable metals, however, it needs caring for in a similar way to your gold pieces. It is still prone to scratching so should be suitably stored to prevent it from rubbing against other pieces you may have. Again, we would recommend you keep this away from any strong chemicals to avoid damaging or weakening the metal.
Silver will naturally tarnish over time, the amount of tarnishing (oxidation) that occurs is dependent on the skin and care habits of the wearer. We recommend cleaning your jewelry using warm soapy water and a soft brush and then finish by polishing with a soft cloth to prevent the natural process of tarnishing.
Caring for precious stones
Diamonds are well known for their hardness on the Mohs scale, however they can still be chipped or cracked when knocked and care should be taken to avoid harsh contact when worn. Diamonds can be easily cleaned using a small amount of liquid soap in hot water and dried using a lint-free cloth to remove any dirt and grease to bring back its shine.
Emeralds are infamous for their history and the deep luscious green colour is one that cannot be matched by another stone. So let's take good care of them!
Gem and mineral hardness is measured on the Mohs scale. The numbers are based on the relative ease or difficulty with which one mineral can be scratched by another. But the Mohs scale is deceptive. The steps between the minerals are not evenly spaced. For example, diamond is only one number away, but it’s many times harder than gems in the corundum family.
Emerald is 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale and has fair to good toughness, making it a stone that requires more care in wearing than ruby or sapphire. Even so, emeralds are beautiful stones for all types of jewelry and with proper care will last for generations.Heat can damage emeralds, especially by extending existing fractures. Light and chemicals can cause the oils, resins, and polymers used to fill surface-reaching fractures to alter in appearance or deteriorate.
Some estimates state that 90 percent or more of emeralds are fracture-filled. Since the great majority of fashioned natural emeralds contain filled fractures, it’s risky to clean them ultrasonically or with steam. Ultrasonic vibrations can weaken already-fractured stones, and hot steam can cause oil or unhardened resin to sweat out of fractures. Using warm, soapy water coupled with gentle scrubbing is the safest way to clean emeralds.
Rubies and sapphires
Porous gemstones, including amber, turquoise, opals and pearls can be stained by oils or liquids, so it’s important to avoid contact with face creams, lotions and household chemicals. Wash porous gemstones in lukewarm water and polish with a lint-free soft cloth.
Because coral is very soft, it has to be treated with great care. It should be cleaned with a soft, clean cloth, and then rinsed in warm, soapy water.
It should never be soaked, nor put in an ultrasonic cleaner, nor subjected to a jewelry dip.
If the coral is dusty, the dust can be blown off with a can of compressed air, which can be bought at an office supply store.
The coral can also be rinsed in the sink, and then dried thoroughly with a soft cloth.
Coral jewelry should be stored in its own soft fabric pouch, or on its own till in the jewelry box so that it’s not scratched.
Larger pieces of coral jewelry should be wrapped in tissue so they don’t scratch other objects beside them.
Natural turquoise is naturally a soft (easily scratched) and fragile (easily broken) stone. As such, it needs to be handled with care. Turquoise that has been stabilized with polymers is much less prone to scratching and breakage. Store turquoise by itself, not with other jewelry with hard stones or metals that could scratch it. Use of a jewelry pouch may address this concern.
Turquoise is also easily damaged by solvents because if is a phosphate mineral. It should be protected from perfumes, skin lotions, hair sprays, sunscreens, and other cosmetics. These can damage the stone's surface polish. Contact with oils in the skin should be avoided as well for the same reason. Most jewelry cleaning solutions should also be avoided.
Over time, exposure to the sun can lead to discoloration and dehydration. Store your natural turquoise jewelry in a dark place. Do not wear it on sun bathing occasions or at the beach, but free free to use it often on evening outings.
Always clean your turquoise with a soft, clean cotton cloth.