It is important to have your jewelry inspected and cleaned regularly by a jeweler you can trust. However, there are many things you can do on your own to care for and protect your jewelry. The information offered below will help you protect your valuable investments by avoiding some very real problems that arise from improper storage, heat, light and exposure to harmful chemicals.
Perhaps the easiest, and yet most often overlooked, way to care for you jewelry is ensuring it is properly stored at the end of each day. Precious metals and gemstones possess varying levels of hardness. In addition, some pieces possess sharper corners or design elements than others. For these reasons, one must avoid the temptation to simply toss one’s jewelry together in a drawer or box. Piling one’s jewelry together will most certainly result in scratches and even fractured gemstones. We recommend the following rules of thumb:
Storing Your Jewelry:
– Remove rings before performing household chores, such as cleaning, gardening or working with hand tools.
– Jewelry should be stored separately to avoid scratches and damage from other jewelry. It is best to store your jewelry in a jewelry box or in individual cases/pouches. Make sure your jewelry box is equipped with padded slots, posts and compartments that offer the ability to store each piece securely.
– Store necklaces, chains and bracelets flat or on so as to avoid kinks and knots.
– Always store bead jewelry and pearls flat and in a soft pouch. Avoid storing pearls in plastic bags, as the lack of moisture will cause the pearl to dry out and decay.
– Store jewelry away from sunlight as light and heat may have adverse effects on certain gemstones, causing them to fade or even crack (see the chart below for more details).
– Never throw your jewelry in your handbag or parcel.
– Never leave jewelry on the edge of a sink as it can very easily slip down the drain.
– Do not sleep or shower in your jewelry.
– When traveling, give care to packing your jewelry items. Protect your pieces from scratches and impact damage by using padding. Jewelry travel totes are recommended.
– Keep silver away from sulfurous materials to prevent tarnish. Store in an airtight zipper bag to prevent air from coming in contact with your silver.
Cleaning Your Jewelry:
When cleaning your own jewelry, it is important to remember that precious metals like gold and silver are susceptible to damage from exposure to chemicals found in many household cleaning agents. These and other common chemicals, such as chlorine found in most pools, can also damage or discolor gemstones. Clean your jewelry and colored gems with warm water, a soft brush, and use only a mild soap (no detergents) if at all. A water pick or toothpick may be used to clean the hard to reach places, while a soft, lint-free cloth works well for drying and polishing. And of course, be sure to close the sink’s drain before cleaning. A list of cleaning tips follows:
– Clean ear wires in rubbing alcohol.
– Use a soft polishing cloth to clean your pearls and gemstone jewelry
– Chemical paste, liquid and bath cleaners are too harsh.
– Avoid wearing jewelry when spraying hair spray, perfume, and when coloring your hair; different agents cause jewelry to dull.
– Purchase an appropriate cleaning solution to keep your pieces clean and untarnished. Consider using an ultrasonic cleaner, but first consult the Gemstone Care chart below.
– Grease can be easily removed from gold jewelry by dipping it in rubbing alcohol.
– Don’t rub precious metal with anything other than a fine piece of felt or polishing cloth to prevent scratching from fibers.
– Never use an ultrasonic cleaner on organic materials (amber, bone, coral, horn, ivory and pearls). This is also true for opals and turquoise.
– Pearls require special care. After each wearing, gently wipe them with a soft cloth to remove body oils and perfume.
Listed below are commonly known gemstones and some rules of thumb for cleaning them:
|Amethyst||A durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner. Avoid direct heat.|
|Aquamarine||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner – use only soap and water. Avoid heat as it may cause discoloration.|
|Amethyst||A durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner. Avoid direct heat.|
|Blue Topaz||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner. Avoid prolonged exposure to light and heat. Be careful to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes./td>|
|Citrine||A durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner. Avoid direct heat.|
|Diamond||A durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner.|
|Emerald||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner, as it may dissolve the oils inside the stone. Emeralds should be cleaned gently with a small brush and lukewarm water. Avoid sudden temperature changes and sharp blows.|
|Garnet||A very durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner.|
|Opal||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner or any ammonia based cleaner on the stone. Clean with a small brush and lukewarm water.|
|Pearl||Never use ultrasonic or steam cleaners. Clean regularly (after each wearing) with a soft cloth. Avoid contact with perfumes, cosmetics and household cleaners, and return your strand to your jeweler for periodic professional cleaning and restringing.|
|Peridot||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner. Be careful to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes.|
|Ruby||Avoid sharp blows or prolonged exposure to heat.|
|Sapphire||A very durable stone that can be cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner. Avoid direct or prolonged exposure to heat.|
|Tanzanite||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner – use only soap and water. Be careful to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes.|
|Topaz||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner – use only soap and water. Be careful to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes.|
|Tourmaline||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner – use only soap and water. Be careful to avoid sharp blows or sudden temperature changes.|
|Turquoise||Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner – use only soap and water. Do not expose to ammonia or chlorine, and avoid prolonged exposure to heat (turquoise is susceptible to cracks when heated).|
|Zircon||A rather soft stone that may be damaged by heat or exposure to household chemicals. Clean with a small brush and lukewarm water.|
Of the four Cs, cut is perhaps the most important factor affecting a diamond’s overall quality and beauty. A diamond’s brightness, or its brilliance, is determined by how much light is reflected back to your eyes. Light enters the stone through the crown, which is the portion of the diamond above the girdle. The crown is made up of the table, which is the large flat facet on top of the diamond, and many crown facets. It then travels to the pavilion, or body, of the stone, where it is reflected from one side to the other and then back through the top and to an observer’s eye.
A well cut, well proportioned stone evenly reflects and refracts light within the stone, thereby producing an eye-catching, fiery spectrum of color. A poorly cut diamond, on the other hand, allows more light to pass through or “leak” from the sides of the stone, which results in a lifeless appearance with reduced sparkle.
The science behind diamond cutting is more or less an exercise in proportion. Changing the proportion of a diamond’s depth and width is done in order to maximize the stone’s brilliance. If the cut adheres to certain “ideal” proportions, the results can be spectacular. If poorly cut, the results can be so bad as to cause structural instability, which makes the stone susceptible to breaking. Because cut is so important, gemologists have developed grading methods to assist consumers in determining a diamond’s cut. In general, they are: Ideal, Excellent, Very Good, Good and Fair.
The ideal proportions shown below are known as the Tolkowsky Theoretical Brilliant cut. In 1919, Marcel Tolkowsky published a paper detailing ideal proportions for a round brilliant diamond. Modern cutters offer a wide range of opinions on the “ideal” cut, but Tolkowsky’s findings are mathematically indisputable and remain the basis for these modern ideal proportions.
The measurement and comparison of diamond color ranges from colorless to slightly tinted. However, discerning the subtle differences between sequential color grades can be almost impossible with the naked eye. For this reason, a letter scale, such as the GIA professional color scale which ranges from D to Z, was created to assist in distinguishing a diamond’s color grade. Diamonds that are in the “D-F” range are considered colorless. These diamonds are rarer and more expensive. Diamonds in the “G-I” range appear completely white to most observers and for this reason can be a better value than colorless diamonds. Color grades beyond “J” exhibit a yellowish or brownish tint, which is increasingly discernable by the untrained eye as you approach the extreme end of the spectrum.
A carat is a unit of measure for diamonds, where one carat equals 100 points, or 0.2 grams. This measurement is referred to as the carat weight and is used to determine a diamond’s size. Larger diamonds are more rare and therefore more highly valued. In addition, larger diamonds make it easier to see the effects of other key characteristics, such as cut and color. Depending on the significance of these other characteristics, diamonds of a similar size (carat weight) may differ dramatically in price.
Clarity is most often mistaken as being the factor that determines a diamond’s sparkle and brilliance. This is not true. Clarity describes the presence of imperfections both on and within a diamond. Most imperfections are microscopic flaws, or “inclusions,” formed inside the diamond during the formation process known as crystallization. Other flaws, however, appear on the surface of a diamond and may have appeared during the cutting process.
Essentially, the clarity grade describes the flawlessness of a diamond; the fewer the imperfections, the higher the clarity grading. Naturally, these imperfections have an impact on the value of a diamond, particularly those that may be viewed by the naked eye. In order to find and plot a stone’s flaws, gemologists use at least 10x loupe magnification when grading for clarity. Clarity grades range from Flawless, which are diamonds that reveal no imperfection even under 10x magnification, to Imperfect 3, which are stones with distinct blemishes visible to the naked eye. See the chart below for a description of each clarity grading.
Tradition tells us that each wedding anniversary should be celebrated by giving your loved one a gift made from a different material. Paper symbolizes the first year of marriage, but with each passing year, the gifts become more precious or more rare. This progression is meant to symbolize the growth in a couple’s relationship through the years.
The origins of the traditional list are not known, however some of the traditions are believed to date back to medieval times. Today, we accompany these traditions with a more modern list that not only offers greater variety, but in many cases, puts a higher value on earlier anniversaries. In addition, a list of jewelry and gemstone traditions offers recommendations for those who prefer to adorn their loved one with something truly precious each year.