How to Take Care of Your Precious Family Jewels
These are the things to keep in mind to safeguard those precious jewels for years to come.
INSPECT FOR WEAR AND TEAR
Regular wear will unavoidably result in potential damage that may not be visible to the untrained eye. It’s best to leave it to a reputable jeweler to check for loose stones, broken/worn prongs, and weakened clasps. However, every so often, Cartier recommends checking by “shaking the piece of jewelry close to your ear: if you hear a slight noise, this means that the stones are no longer perfectly secured,” you may also check “by rubbing the piece of jewelry against a thin cloth: if the cloth catches, this means that the prongs have moved.”
AVOID SUNLIGHT AND HEAT
Excessive exposure to the sun is harmful to just about any element in the world—gemstones included. Always be wary of leaving your jewelry in direct sunlight as stones like amethyst, citrine, and smoky quartz have been known to fade over time, while other gems like amber can darken. Similarly, pearls and ivory will bleach with prolonged exposure to light. Jewelry is also susceptible to damage from X-ray emissions and other sources of radioactivity.
DIY SOLUTIONS MAY DO MORE HARM THAN GOOD
Think twice before using a harsh cleaner in an attempt to bring back your piece’s sparkle. House grade chemicals may seem safe, but some may damage and cause discoloration in precious metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and certain precious stones.
Likewise, common beauty products we use have been known to be harmful to fine jewels. Van Cleef & Arpels suggests, “Avoid exposing your piece to scent, soap, chemicals or cosmetics, as these could affect its color and aspect. It is best to wait until scent and cosmetics are completely dry before wearing your jewelry.”
PROPER CLEANING METHODS
Jewelry should be cleaned regularly and ideally, should be taken to a professional twice a year. Materials like lapis lazuli, coral, pearls, turquoise or emerald are delicate and are best left in professionals’ hands. For less delicate gems, lukewarm soapy water (no detergent) and a soft bristle brush are good enough to restore your pieces back to their sparkling glory.
Ideally, jewelry pieces should be stored in separate fabric-lined cases to prevent knocking and scratches. Jewelry organizers are a great way to save space and to keep your prized jewels in top shape. The best ones provide multiple casings on each level, while providing enough space to hang necklaces, and separate bracelets, and rings.
It’s important to keep in mind that storage depends on the material. Sterling silver, for example, needs to be kept in an anti-tarnish cloth bag. Pearls and opals are some of the most delicate jewelry pieces, with seasoned jewelers suggesting you store them separately. Opals will crack and lose their opalescence when they lose their water. This can be remedied by wrapping them in soft, moist cotton.