Precious stones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, that rank highly on the Mohs scale for hardness may seem virtually indestructible, but in truth they require care to maintain their brilliance, color, shapes, and settings. And what of semi-precious stones, such as garnet, turquoise, or tourmaline, or for that matter dyed stones or costume jewelry?
For any jewelry you prize, a careful and appropriate care regimen will help maintain the sparkle and keep your favorite pieces from being damaged. Good care begins with proper storage. Even the hardest of gems can be damaged if mistreated, and the best storage methods keep jewels away from harsh light and in soft settings. The best storage methods are to keep jewels in their original padded boxes or in a soft cloth bag. You also want to avoid wearing your jewels during heavy activities, such as gardening or exercise, or when applying makeup, hairspray, or other agents that may contain caustic chemicals.
But, of course, even daily wear may necessitate cleaning. In fact, a good care regimen should include daily polishing. Here are recommendations for cleaning your favorite pieces:
- Daily gentle polishing should be done with a soft lint free cloth;
- Use a toothpick or a soft bristled toothbrush to remove dirt from the setting;
- Know your stones: most stones can be cleaned with a mild dish detergent and water or can be soaked in jewelry cleaning solutions (avoid those with ammonia or other caustics), but some should never be soaked. Amber, coral, pearls, and other soft porous stones should only be wiped down with a damp cloth rather than soaked;
- Dyed or opaque stones should only be cleaned with mild soap and water;
- Ultrasonic cleaning can damage some stones, such as emeralds whose cracks have been oil-filled.
- A good regimen should include taking your jewels to a professional at least once a year to be inspected for damage and to have the settings checked.
Once your jewels are cleaned and ready to wear, remember the first off, last on principle. This means that you should remove jewelry before showering, swimming, cooking, or cleaning that may expose them to chemicals (even lemon juice can cause damage). And before putting your jewels on, apply makeup, do your hair, and dress to avoid not only chemicals but snagging that can cause damage. Finally, in putting on your pieces, never press directly on a stone, which can loosen and damage settings. With these few basic care steps, you can keep your jewelry sparkling and pristine for years.
Ivan Young is a writer in partnership with silverware wholesaler, Silver Superstore.
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