Jewelry Care 101

Jewelry Care 101

Whether it's a ring or bracelet you wear every day or a family heirloom that you only put on for special occasions, jewelry is often our most cherished accessory. To keep jewelry looking its best, it's important to take care of it, but every piece is different. Here's a guide to help you take care of any piece of jewelry, whether it's a diamond ring, gold necklace, or pearl earrings. 

How To Wear Jewelry

We have jewelry so we can wear it and show it off, but there are some steps you can take to make sure your pieces stay in good condition even with regular use. 

  • Limit exposure to light and heat. Excessive heat can fracture some gems, and the light can cause them to fade. Amethyst, topaz, and pearls are susceptible to light and will bleach, while others such as amber can become darker.
  • Keep away from chemicals. The chemicals in lotions, cleaning solutions, and perfumes can damage jewelry. Remove jewelry before swimming in a pool so it doesn't come into contact with chlorine. You also want to put jewelry on after you put your lotion on.
  • Keep it dry. Water is not good for jewelry. It can cause cracks and water stains and make it dull. Remove your rings before washing your hands and take off other jewelry before showering.

How To Store Jewelry

various colors and sizes of rings in a jewelry box
Image via Flickr by erink_photography

Storing your jewelry correctly is just as important as wearing it correctly. To keep your favorite pieces looking beautiful forever, make sure you:

  • Wipe your jewelry piece with a soft cloth every time you take it off. Jewelry collects dirt and moisture while you wear it. If you don't wipe it off, it can cause the metal and gems to deteriorate.
  • Keep it in a dry place. Make sure your jewelry box is airtight so moisture can't get in. You can also add some chalk or silicone packs to the box to absorb any excess moisture.
  • Don't store it in wood. Wood can stain some jewels and tarnish metals.
  • Always bring a case for your jewelry when you travel. Jewelry can quickly become damaged during travel. Always bring a high-quality travel case for your pieces.
  • Avoid tangling necklaces. Store necklaces lying flat or hang them up.
  • Avoid contact with other jewelry. Store bracelets flat or hanging in a place where they won't come into contact with other jewelry. Earrings should also be kept separate from other pieces. 

Cleaning Your Jewelry

There is a lot of information available for cleaning your jewelry, but the simple methods are usually the safest. Many colored gemstones just need some clean, warm water and mild dish soap or a jewelry cleaning solution. You can use a soft brush to get the small spaces, but remember that porous gemstones should have minimal contact with the cleaning solution, so just brush it on and then wipe clean. Always use a nonabrasive cloth to wipe down any of your jewelry. 

Ultrasonic cleaners are a popular method for cleaning jewelry, but not every gem can be cleaned with one. Never put organic gemstones such as ivory, pearls, tortoiseshell, or coral in an ultrasonic cleaner. 

The best way to clean silver is to polish it instead of washing it. Keep it away from the air as much as possible, and then use a liquid polish and a soft cloth to clean it. 

Since every gemstone is different and each one has a different cleaning requirement, in some cases you should have a professional jeweler do it. Bring your jewelry to a professional if:

  • You find loose gems. If a gemstone becomes loose, make sure you bring it to a jeweler to fix it.
  • You find deep scratches. When gems have deep scratches, a jeweler has the tools to buff them out.
  • You can't get to hard-to-reach-dirt. When your jewelry has dirt and grime in places that you can't get to, a trip to the jeweler might be necessary. They can make quick work of cleaning any piece.

Have Your Fine Jewelry Checked

Fine jewelry, just like anything that gets used regularly, is susceptible to wear and tear. Having it checked by a professional will help to keep it looking its best. Some of the most common damage that can occur include a break in the chain or clasp, broken prongs, loose stones, chipped stones, and discoloration.

If you try to put on a necklace and notice that it has a broken clasp, you can bring it to your jeweler to replace it. They should be able to match a new clasp to the piece and solder it in place. Broken or bent links are another common problem with necklaces. A jeweler has the tools to remove the broken or damaged link and make the chain look like new again. 

The prongs that hold your gems in place are crucial. If you notice that one prong sits higher than the others or your ring starts snagging your clothing, it is important to get it fixed. The jeweler might just need to push the prong back into place, or it might need more extensive repairs. 

Prongs can become damaged due to a sharp blow. You can avoid this type of damage by removing your jewelry before doing an activity where it could happen. But, if it does, your jeweler can usually fix it. If the stone is loose, fixing the prong or head will do the trick. A chipped stone, depending on the size and cut, can possibly be recut or reset.

Discoloration is often the result of exposure to chemicals or other metals. Your jeweler can make it look new again by polishing or replacing it. Some additional repairs might be necessary depending on the damage, such as re-shanking to repair any structural damage.

At Martin Busch Jewelers, we can take care of all your jewelry care and repair needs. Whether you have pieces that need a thorough cleaning or your favorite necklace or ring needs repairs, we can take care of it.