For most people, jewelry is a valuable item, not just in terms of cost, as it can hold an enormous sentimental value that more often than not can be irreplaceable. Therefore, it’s a wise move to protect your jewelry pieces with the utmost care. There are many commonplace, everyday activities that can harm the properties of your jewelry pieces and make them alter their remarkable visual lush. In the present article, we are going to try to provide some useful tidbits to keep in mind to maintain the splendor of the jewelry that you’ve worked so hard to obtain. Some of these might seem a little too much for you (I’m going to assume that you’re the type that wears their pieces to sleep, just like me!) but please bear with us, the following guidelines will make sure that every part of your one-of-a-kind piece, truly lasts forever.
Chemicals, chemicals, chemicals
It’s safe to say that chemicals represent the number one threat to the safety and luxurious prowess of your jewelry. They can single-handedly diminish or directly alter the look and the inner makings of the many materials used to make your pieces. This is also and ever looming risk, because let’s face it: chemical compounds, of natural or synthetic concoction, are everywhere! They are a part of our daily life and we depend on them for very useful and regular tasks, like cleaning, cooking or working out. Even simple exposure that combine seemingly harmless solutions with the intent to clean up your jewelry can end up doing more harm than good. This is rule number one, the BIG one, the Big Kahuna: keep your jewelry away from chemicals!
Look out for those rocks!
You probably know the saying: ‘Diamonds are forever’? (I’m not sure if qualifies to be a saying, but it sounds better than “popular expression”). But are they really? The truth is that, even after being in possession of the title of ‘hardest natural material’ until a very short time ago, diamonds are not indestructible. In fact, they can suffer scratches by other objects or be damaged by (guess what?) chemicals. Precious stones, as well as synthetic man-made ones can also suffer the same fate. Special attention is needed when dealing with the aforementioned stones, as they go usually go through some kind of treatment to augment their look and feel. They require special care to keep them scratch free and shining bright (like a diamond). A true professional knows about this, an can provide a better service or even valuable insight into the proper care of these materials.
Nature is out to get you
We all love those wonderful summer days, right? You wake up full of energy, ready to take on the world, ready to spend some good quality weekends with your family, whenever possible. It’s a great time of the year. On top of that, the beautiful piece of rock and metal in your hand seems to shine as bright as the sun itself, so let’s place where the sun can get it, shall we? No, wait, don’t. As wonderful as all that sounds, exposing your jewelry to direct sun and heat (natural or otherwise) can have a detrimental effect on it. Remember that several materials come into play when making jewelry, and even while metals are mostly immune to the effects of heat and direct sunlight, precious stones (and other fashionable jewelry design items, such as leather) do not bear the same unwavering resistance to our favorite shining star. Some stones can fade, damage or crack, others will bleach and some other will darken. Just remember that, much like everything, too much of anything can be a bad thing.
It’s a good habit to store your jewelry with care, keeping it in a safe place until you use it again. However, the definition of a good storage varies depending on the type of jewelry. Some jewelry can slowly lose their properties when stored in variable temperature conditions, or simply by remaining enclosed, or alternately, extremely in the open. Precious stones are of natural origin, and some of them depend on something as simple as a small amount of humidity (or lack of) to remain beautiful and damage free. This last part, truly is the most important aspect of a good storage arrangement, to keep your jewelry free from scratches, bumps or any other type of harmful contact that may tarnish or negatively affect the general health of your pieces. Padded boxes and pouches, with exclusive separate real-state from every piece is highly recommended, as the friction between pieces can spoil them altogether. Just leaving your rings, earrings, bracelets or pendants on top of the first readily available table, bathroom sink, night stand or open drawer are definite no-nos.
Spot on (or off)
There’s no denying that we live in a messy world, where things can get dirty real quick (I’m talking literal dirt here). Jewelry is no exception, and a jewelry piece simply cannot convey its true genuine beauty while covered by a pile of dust. Even if situations rarely do get that extreme, cleaning your valuables should be something you keep on your regular list of tasks. You really should consider taking it down a notch when thinking about cleaning up your jewelry because even though they’re mostly solid metal and rock, they also are extremely delicate and susceptible to… well, all that’s been mentioned above. So just because you’ve got a great product that makes your car, your kitchen sink, your trusty chainsaw or other similar metallic surfaces shine like a gold ingot; you probably should not try that on your gold, platinum or silver jewelry. What about this other one that makes my marble floors, the ceramic tiles on my bathroom, and the granite vanity top shine my reflection back at me – you ask? I’d keep that as far away as possible from the precious stones in my jewelry. Wouldn’t even keep the bottle in the same room.
We have reviewed the most important aspects of jewelry care and to top it off we’re going to deliver some of the best pinpoint accurate advice about our main subject. Here are some of the finer details that you should consider to keep your pieces in tip top shape:
- Remember that chemicals are everywhere (swimming pools, restrooms, etc.), and in practically all the products we use: hand cremes, perfumes, soaps, body lotions and sprays, household cleaning products, paint, solvents, lubricants, bleach, etc. In the case of health and beauty products, make sure to wear your jewelry AFTER applying all the products you use. When dealing with household cleaning, simply put away your jewelry BEFORE starting those tasks. The also applies to any tasks or job that might put your jewelry in contact with other surfaces or harmful substances. As a general rule, if a substance toxic to you, it will probably be the same for your jewelry as well.
- The type of work that you do might also be detrimental to your jewelry. Remember to keep them off when dealing with rough surfaces, severe temperature changes, hazardous materials or heavy machinery. You should also consider this when choosing the jewelry you want. The metal used in your jewelry pieces, usually has a predetermined amount of other combined metals (commonly known as alloys) that can make it sturdier and more resistant to wear and tear. Check with your jeweler to see which option would adapt better to your current job.
- Lifestyle choices (and changes) can leave your jewelry vulnerable to lots of different hazards. Impacts due to intensive work out sessions can lead to loose settings. Losing weight can make your ring become excessively loose and going out to the pool or the beach - to benefit from the rewards of your arduous training-, increases the risk even further. Misplacing your items due to an agitated lifestyle can also occur, and any of these experiences is bound to leave you feeling blue for a long period of time.
- Our final piece of advice pertains to cleaning. And for this one we’re going the philosophical route. As the overtly simplified version of the principle known as Occam’s Razor states: 'the simplest answer is most often correct'. Like we previously discussed, using industrial strength metal polish is not really the way to go when you want to clean your jewelry. Soap and water, soft fabric, nothing harder than the bristles of a toothbrush. You should think of your jewelry as being as delicate as your own skin. Pretty much like William of Ockham would.