Take Care of Dirt and Grime
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.
Below I have listed general jewelry cleaning tips, as well as tips for cleaning your enamel jewelry, gemstones, pearls and opals.
General Care Instructions
- Remove jewelry before showering, playing sports, bathing, going to the beach or pool. Chlorine and saltwater can damage your jewelry; both can cause erosion of soldered pieces. As a result, the precious metal may weaken and your jewelry could potentially break.
- Avoid wearing jewelry when doing physical work such as housekeeping, gardening, sports activities or exercise. If you cannot take off your ring during these activities, wearing proper gloves that provide some level of cushioning and support would be wise.
- Keep your valuables safe and undamaged by storing your jewelry carefully, separate from one another, in individual soft pouches, compartments or soft-lined boxes. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will scratch or abrade every other piece they touch, even gold can scratch other gold. Pearls are also extremely soft and should not be stored with other gems or loose items.
- Never expose jewelry to household cleaning products, especially bleach and highly reactive solutions.
- Avoid spraying perfume and/or hairspray on jewelry.
- Remove jewelry when applying makeup and creams to avoid residue getting into the textured or gemstone setting. Residue dulls the luster.
- Check prongs, clasps and fasteners often. If any have come out of alignment or prong tips have worn down, you risk losing your piece.
- Dirt and grime build-up dulls the beauty and sparkle of your gemstone jewelry. This is true for all your jewelry, but rings are the most vulnerable because we wash our hands frequently through out the day. Soap residue, lotion, sunscreen, dirt and grime build-up inside your rings over time and can gradually cause your gemstones and diamonds to be pushed out of their settings and be lost.
- As these substances accumulate inside your ring settings through normal wear, they will dry and harden almost acting like cement behind the gems. Then, as you wash your hands during the day, or while washing dishes or preparing food, this buildup gets moist and expands, creating a pressure that works to loosen your gems. Over time, with repeated wetting, expanding and then drying and contracting, the gems are slowly pushed out of their moorings.
- Remember to clean your jewelry regularly to avoid these problems and keep them looking pretty, sparkly and well cared for.
- Using a soft, lint free cloth is an effective way to keep your jewelry looking fresh and lustrous. Do not use tissue paper, paper towels or abrasive cloths to clean your jewelry pieces as they can cause scratching. It is best to get a cleaning cloth specifically made for jewelry.
- Using a very soft toothbrush and warm water is also useful for gentle cleaning, but not recommended for delicate pieces, pearls and opals.
- Alternatively, visit your local jewelry store to get your pieces inspected and professionally cleaned every 6 months or so.
- Vitreous enamel is a type of glass formulated to adhere to the surface of metals once fired in a hot kiln. As we all know, glass is fragile.
- Enamel cracks on hard impact. When putting on or taking off your enamel jewelry, it is best to do this over a carpeted floor or, better yet, while leaning over the bed mattress to avoid damage should it slip from your hands.
- After taking off your enamel jewelry, gently set it down, face-up, in a cloth-lined jewelry box or wrapped in a soft cloth to avoid any abrasion, chipping or unintentional wear. Avoid keeping it in accident-prone locations, such as the top of a dresser.
- Cleaning: Use a soft, lint-free, nonabrasive cloth; gentle soap; and warm water. Soak your piece in warm soapy water for five to ten minutes. Use one end of the soft, nonabrasive, lint-free cloth (or use a very soft toothbrush) to gently tease off any noticeable bits of dirt. Rinse thoroughly and dry it gently with the dry end of the soft, nonabrasive, lint-free cloth.
- Depending on the gemstone, some can be more sensitive to scratches. Diamond is the strongest followed by sapphire and ruby. If a minor scratch does occur, it can be polished out in most cases.
- Since many gemstones are quite delicate, hot water, harsh chemicals and cleaners should be avoided at all times unless using special products that are safe and specifically made for cleaning gemstones.
- Clean your precious stones with a clean, soft, non-abrasive, damp cloth after wearing. It is best to get a cleaning cloth specifically made for jewelry.
- Very porous stones such as turquoise and emeralds should be cleaned using an untreated, dry, soft, non-abrasive cloth only; not a jeweler's cloth that has been impregnated with polishing compounds.
- Do not use tissue paper or paper towels to clean gemstones as they can cause scratching.
- To avoid any potential of losing your gemstones, have a jeweler inspect your gemstone settings every 6 months or so.
Pearls and Opals
- Pearls and opals will dry out and become discolored or loose their luster, even crack, if stored in too dry an environment.
- Never expose pearls or opals to hair sprays, cosmetics, perfumes, sun lotions or insect repellents – the acids in them will attack the pearls.
- It is ok to keep your pearls and opals in a sealed plastic bag for a short period of time, but they will dry out and potentially sustain damage if left for too long. This also applies to leaving these jewels in a hot, closed car – this is not recommend.
- Pearls should be the last article to go on when getting ready to go out and the first to come off when returning home.
- Extra care must be taken when cleaning pearls. Rinse your pearl gently in warm water but take extra care not to clean the pearl with any chemicals, soaps, solutions or abrasive cloths.
- Do not clean with chlorinated tap water. Use filtered or distilled water instead.
- Wipe dry with a soft, nonabrasive cloth; not a jeweler's cloth that has been impregnated with polishing compounds.