Like everything else, your jewellery will look all the better for a little TLC.
Whilst most jewellery is quite robust and requires little more than warm water with a mild detergent, stones like Amber, Emerald, Opals and Pearls are particularly fragile and/or porous, hence needing careful treatment.
The golden rule of cleaning is, IF IN DOUBT, DON'T. By and large unless you know what you are doing and have read the instructions carefully, we DON'T recommend using the various proprietary dips and chemicals sold for cleaning jewellery. The results may look miraculous and effort free, but that is usually at the expense of some quite potent chemistry. A minute's polishing with a soft cloth is a lot better than a lifetime's regret over the ruination of a favourite piece.
Also, please beware ultrasonic jewellery cleaners. They sound like a good idea - and are when in experienced hands - but some stones have internal stress patterns that react badly to ultrasonics. They can literally fall apart!
Whilst we can't give an exhaustive guide, the above tips and information are all worth knowing - or reminding yourself of.
Care of Diamond Jewellery
The perfect surface of a diamond's facets is particularly good at collecting the dust and grime of everyday life. Oils from your skin, thin films of detergent from when you wash your hands, hairspray etc. Regrettably, diamonds and their settings can be grime magnets and a regular clean is the only easy way to keep the sparkle in your best friend.
- Diamonds are, as we all know, the hardest things in nature. They'll resist a lot, including flames hot enough to melt metal. But they are not beyond your power to damage them. Remember, lapidaries can facet diamonds with steel tools - and a good sharp blow, particularly near the edge can chip a diamond. So we recommend removing diamonds before doing heavy work.
- If diamonds are all but impossible to scratch, they have absolutely no problem scratching other surfaces they come into contact with. Try to store diamond jewellery separately in a pouch where it can't jiggle against other items - particularly when travelling.
- As most diamond jewellery is set in gold or platinum, it is probably the hardest gem jewellery to do any serious damage to. You don't need fancy chemicals, a dab of washing up liquid and warm water will do the trick. Oh yes, and make sure the plug is in the sink. Been there, done that.
- The most vulnerable part of most diamond jewellery is the setting. If using a brush to clean in the fiddly bits, take care. If a setting feels even a little bit loose, take it for repair.
Care of Gem Jewellery
To ensure that your gemstones stay looking as beautiful as ever, here is our guide to the care of gemstones.
- Different gemstones have different hardnesses. This means that some will scratch others given half a chance. So it is a good idea to store and transport jewellery in a way that prevents things coming into contact. The same rule applies when wearing jewellery together - soft and hard stones don't make good neighbours if they have the opportunity to rub against each other.
- Stones, such as opals, pearls, coral, amber and turquoise are porous, as are stones like emeralds which may have inclusions. They are all capable of absorbing water or other liquids. Taking them off when doing the washing up or swimming may be inconvenient, but it's important. Also, beware of those other liquids that you may use where it's easy to forget. Sunscreen, hairspray and of course perfume. Best rule is that 'Jewellery goes on last of all and comes off first'.
- Heat and light may not sound terribly threatening, but opal, pearls, coral, amber, turquoise, and many other gems are quite heat sensitive, both in terms of extremes of temperature and sudden temperature changes. Emeralds have been known to shatter in hot water. Opals left in a hot dry place (say on or above a radiator) can deteriorate and craze. By the same token, some stones like any other object can fade in UV radiation. Aquamarines left in strong sunlight gradually lighten.
- When cleaning nonporous (ie. very hard) gemstones, wash them gently with a weak solution of washing up liquid, rinse with clean lukewarm water, and dry them with a soft, lint free cloth. Be sure to plug the sink so you don't wash your stones down the drain!
- On harder stones, it's safe to do a little very gentle scrubbing with a soft toothbrush. If you're cleaning jewellery however, be careful not to scrub highly polished metal surfaces, as the slight abrasive action of the brush can produce hazy effects on the metal. A little soaking might be necessary to remove heavier deposits.
Care of Gold Jewellery
Gold jewellery has the advantage that gold does not oxidise or tarnish. However, the other property of gold that we all know is that it is a soft metal.
- Although washing up liquid cleans gold jewellery, most soaps can cause a film to form on gold jewellery making it appear dull. You might come out of the shower clean and shiny, but your gold may lose its gleam.
- A soft, lint free cloth is an effective and inexpensive way to keep your gold pieces lustrous and shining.
- Be particularly careful of chlorine - a chemical in very many household cleaning products and bleach. Whilst gold and silver are immune to chlorine, both tend to be alloyed with small amounts of copper which is not. Chlorine can permanently damage or discolour your gold jewellery. Avoid wearing gold jewellery while using chlorine bleach or while in a pool containing chlorine - particularly if the water/chlorine mix is warm.
- Although now a rarity, the mercury from a dropped thermometer. Mercury bonds permanently to gold and this is bad news.