10 Cardinal Rules of Fine Jewelry Care

Your best guide to taking care of your sparkly treasures.

From the charm bracelet your parents gave when you were younger to the earrings you rewarded yourself with after that career milestone, or the engagement ring your significant other slipped on your finger, there’s always a story attached to your favorite jewelry pieces.

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From everyday marvels you can’t leave the house without to spectacular gems meant to turn heads and start conversations, your accoutrements are a part of you. And while most fine jewelry pieces are made to last, a little extra TLC will make sure these gorgeous gems look their best, sparking joy for years to come.  

1. Last on, first off

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When getting dressed, think of your fine jewelry as the finishing touch to your ensemble. Make sure your baubles are the last thing you put on, even after your lotion or perfume. And when you’re done with them for the day, they should be the first to come off as well. You wouldn’t want them getting snagged on your clothes, which could snap thinner chains or break delicate jewels.

Most experts also advise against wearing them to bed, especially one’s earrings. Not only could they get damaged, but they could also scratch or poke the wearer.

2. Hold the hairspray, and all the other beauty products too.

Your beauty regimen can wreak havoc on bejeweled finery so make sure to keep your selfcare routine away from your sparklers. Facial cleansers, moisturizers, fragrances, hair products and the like can dull or damage your jewels. Natural gems like pearls and opals which are porous are particularly susceptible, and could turn yellow when continuously exposed to perfumes and oils.


3. Wear with care 

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Never wear your jewels while doing rough work or exercising. Just because diamonds are some of the hardest substances on earth doesn’t make them indestructible. They can still crack under extreme pressure or come loose if the setting is damaged. Swimming in chlorinated water with your gems is also a no-no, as the chemicals in the water can dull or damage them.

Jeweler Kristine Dee advises one should also be extra careful while wearing emeralds, corals or jade, as they are softer than other materials.

4. Layer with caution.

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While it’s tempting to wear all your favorite trinkets together, it’s best to keep them separate. Harder stones, like diamonds, can scratch softer ones so it’s best to be extra careful when mixing and matching one’s accessories. A diamond tennis bracelet, for example, can easily nick the face of your favorite timepiece or your other diamonds.

If you really can’t pick a favorite, make sure your layered pieces can hold their own or that the more delicate areas won’t be scratched by other jewels. Should your gold jewelry start to show significant signs of wear and tear, polishing it can help restore its former glory. But since the process involves removing a fine layer of metal, Cartier recommends for it to be done only twice in the lifetime of white gold jewelry and thrice in that of yellow gold.

5. Be careful with light and heat.

A lot of colored gemstones are particularly sensitive to extreme temperatures and sunlight so it’s best to keep them in a well-regulated environment. For example, emeralds, aquamarines, amethysts, citrines, peridots, and tanzanites don’t respond well to heat. Exposure to sunlight can likewise cause some stones, like citrines, sapphires, and rose quartzes, to fade. 

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6. When cleaning at home, keep it simple.

When sprucing up your fine jewelry at home, it’s best to err on the side of caution, favoring simpler methods over ambitious ones. Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water and soap and a soft brush or lint-free cloth.

Dee also has a DIY hack for diamond and gold jewelry. She recommends soaking them in hot water with a bit of dishwashing liquid, allowing the solution to gently cool. Once it does, gently remove the dirt using a very soft toothbrush. Cleaning solutions like Connoisseurs Jewelry Cleaner or Grandma’s Secret Jewelry Cleaner are also options one can consider, according to Kristine Dee. But of course, the best care would definitely come from professional hands. 

7. When in doubt, seek professional help. 


For delicate gems or antique jewels, it’s best to have cleaning done by a professional. Most jewelers would be able to do this for a fee, and it’s recommended to have this done every year. They can also go over your jewels making sure there aren’t any damaged clasps, loose settings, or cracked gems, ensuring the longevity of your treasured pieces.

And while you’re at it, Dee also recommends having jewels professionally appraised as well. Knowing more about what makes up your gorgeous treasures allows you to better care for them, and also inform you of their value. 

8. Pay special attention to your pearls.

Having come from a living animal, pearls are especially delicate gemstones. “Pearls are allergic to perfume and cosmetic products, which should be avoided at all costs,” declares Dee. And while they benefit from being worn regularly because of the moisture of our skin, they’re vulnerable to acids in perspiration. To keep them in tip-top shape, make sure to clean them first before storing them by wiping them gently with a soft cloth, devoid of any soaps or cleaning solutions,

When it comes to storing pearl necklaces, it’s most ideal to lay them flat to avoid putting strain on the silk thread that holds them together. These should be restrung periodically as well, to make they’re in excellent condition and won’t snap. They’re easily scratched so make sure to store them away from other items. It’s also best to keep them in a humid environment. Chanel advocates putting a small glass of water close to your pearls, to keep the gems from drying out.

9. Store jewelry properly.

Most jewelers agree that jewelry pieces should be stored separately in a soft-lined jewelry box or ensconced in soft cloth to keep them from being scratched. “Arrange earrings, rings, and similar items together, and make sure necklace chains and bracelets do not entangle each other,” recommends Dee. “When your box is neat and organized, then you are already halfway into taking care of your precious fine jewelry. Also, you will find great joy and satisfaction each time you open your jewelry box."

10. Most importantly, avoid the sink when removing jewelry. 

Despite our best efforts, accidents do occur, so to eschew any mishaps altogether it’s best to just keep fine jewels away from any open drains. Avoid placing rings at the edge of the sink while washing one’s hands, especially in public places. At home, it helps to have a dedicated jewelry plate in one’s vanity area, to hold baubles temporarily while doing one’s beauty routine. It may seem like common sense, but if you’ve ever lost anything through the plumbing, you’ll know how practical this reminder is.

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Mariane Perez
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