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Jewellery Care

Education | Gemstones | Diamonds | Pearls | Opals | Precious Metals

General Cleaning Tips

Here are some tips to help you keep your fine diamond and gemstone jewellery clean and sparkling and in good condition. We recommend you consult a gemmologist or jeweller for the best cleaning procedure for your particular gemstone jewellery.

Be sure to visually inspect your gemstone jewellery before cleaning to be sure all stones are secure in their mountings. If in doubt, have your local jeweller inspect the piece and perform any necessary maintenance.

If cleaning jewellery over a sink or lavatory, be sure to close the drain before beginning. Almost all coloured stone jewellery can be safely cleaned using a mild soap and water solution and a soft brush. Commercial jewellery cleaners are safe for most stones, but be sure to read the label carefully before using any commercial cleaner, especially on delicate stones such as pearls or opals. Also remember that gold and silver are soft and can be scratched, so always polish with a clean, soft cotton cloth and never use abrasive cleansers.

Be extra careful with ultrasonic cleaners. Some gemstones are fragile and can be damaged by ultrasonic cleaners, and a stone that is not secure in its setting could come out during the cleaning process.

Always thoroughly rinse and dry your jewellery and polish with a soft cloth after cleaning and before storage.

Diamonds

Extremely dirty diamonds will benefit from a professional steam cleaning. Most jewellers will clean diamond jewellery at no charge as a customer service, and really good ones will do a cursory examination of the prongs and settings as well.

Pearls

Pearls are lovely organic gems that must be treated with special care.
Pearls should always be put on after all cosmetics and hair spray have been applied. Before cleaning a pearl strand, inspect it to make sure the pearls are secure. Fine pearls are strung on silk thread, which can weaken over time, and they should be professionally re-strung every two or three years. When cleaning pearls, be careful to avoid any form of abrasion. Use only soft cotton cloth dampened with distilled water, or a commercial jewellery cloth.

Opals

Opals also require special care because they are relatively soft, porous, and can be quite fragile. Never use harsh chemical cleaners on opals. To remove light amounts of grime, create solution of warm, soapy water gently scrub your opal with a soft brush. Rinse the opal and buff dry. If your opal has lost its original shine and luster you should visit an opal specialist and have your opals professionally cleaned.

Silver

Sterling silver jewellery will, by nature, discolour with exposure to air. The best way to prevent tarnish is to wear your silver jewellery on a regular basis. Clean jewellery will remain bright longer if stored in a box lined with anti-tarnish paper or sealed in a plastic bag. Polishing with a silver cloth is usually enough to keep your jewellery bright. However, you must be careful not to pull the jewellery out of shape while polishing. If your all-metal piece becomes badly tarnished, it may also be cleaned with commercial silver jewellery cleaner or any traditional silver cleaner. Do not use commercial silver cleaners on gemstone pieces, as they may damage the stones. Use a silver polishing cloth only. If your silver and gemstone jewellery becomes badly tarnished and will not clean up with a silver polishing cloth, it may require professional cleaning.

If you don't like chemical cleaners or just don't have any silver cleaner at hand, you can try the following method on all-metal pieces, such as chains or bracelets. Again, do not use this method on jewellery containing gemstones. The heat may cause them to crack or change colour.

Find a bowl, cup or pan suitable for the type of jewellery being cleaned, and line with aluminium foil. Place your jewellery inside the lined bowl and cover with a small amount of baking soda, just enough so you can barely see the jewellery. Next, pour hot water over the jewellery and wait for the bubbling to stop. After the solution has stopped bubbling, remove the piece, rinse with warm water and buff dry with a soft cotton cloth. You may need to repeat the process up to 5-6 times for badly tarnished pieces.

Wearing

Apply all cosmetics, perfumes, lotions and hairspray before putting on gemstone jewellery. This is especially important for delicate stones, such as pearls. Remember, "last on, first off."

Don't wear your gemstone jewellery while swimming, and either remove jewellery before using household cleaners, or wear rubber gloves. Saltwater and chlorine, as well as other harsh chemicals, may slowly erode the finish, polish and possibly the colour of gemstones.

Do not subject gemstone jewellery to sudden temperature changes. Consider your gemstone jewellery during your daily activities. Some stones are brittle and should not be worn when doing household chores or any other activity where the stone could be hit or damaged. Make sure to wipe your gemstones after wear to remove any chemicals, oils or perspiration.

Storing

After wearing, wipe your gemstone jewellery thoroughly with a clean, soft, slightly damp cloth and polish with a soft, dry cloth. This will enhance the luster of the gemstones and ensure that your jewellery is clean before storage. Store gemstone pieces individually in soft pouches to prevent scratching. You may prefer to store pendants hanging on hooks in a jewellery box or lay them flat in a drawer or jewellery roll to prevent tangling.

Insuring

Did you know that most homeowners' insurance policies don't properly cover their fine jewellery? Insurance laws vary from state to state and country to country, so it is important that you speak to your insurer and find out exactly what type and how much coverage you have on your fine jewellery and gemstones before a loss occurs.

Proper coverage begins with a proper appraisal. You should seek out a gemmologist appraiser who has the training to write an appraisal that ensures you will be "made whole" in the event of a loss, but not better. Inflated appraisals may make you feel good, but it could cause you to pay an inflated premium needlessly. Insurance companies always seek to replace an item with another of like kind and quality at the lowest price to them. Rarely do they "cash out" on an item, so you are far better off with an appraisal that accurately describes your item, because that description is what the insurance company will look at, not the appraised value.

Gemstone Treatment and Care Overview
Gemstone Accepted Enhancements Gemstone Care
Amethyst Heated to alter colour Basic Gemstone Care
Aquamarine Heated to alter colour and clarity Basic Gemstone Care
Blue Topaz Heated and/or irradiated to alter colour Basic Gemstone Care
Citrine Heated to alter colour Basic Gemstone Care
Emerald Oiled to alter clarity and/or colour Do not use ultrasonic cleaning. Avoid sudden temperature changes, chemicals, perfume, cosmetics, and hairspray
Garnet None Avoid sudden temperature changes
Opal Can have a variety of treatments to alter surface consistency and durability Do not use ultrasonic cleaning. Avoid sudden temperature changes, chemicals, perfume, cosmetics, and hairspray
Pearl (natural and cultured) Bleached, dyed, polished and irradiated Do not use ultrasonic cleaning. Avoid sudden temperature changes, chemicals, perfume, cosmetics, and hairspray.
Peridot None Basic Gemstone Care
Pink Tourmaline Irradiated to alter colour Do not use ultrasonic cleaning and sudden temperature changes
Ruby Heated and/or diffused to alter colour and clarity Avoid household chemicals and ultrasonic cleaning
Sapphire Heated and/or diffused to alter colour and clarity Avoid household chemicals and ultrasonic cleaning
Tanzanite Heated to alter colour and clarity Do not use ultrasonic cleaning and sudden temperature changes
-By Cynthia B. Reuschel

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Education | Gemstones | Diamonds | Pearls | Opals | Precious Metals
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