Following are instructions for the “care and feeding” of your jewelry. Please bear in mind that while one of jewelry’s great assets is its relative durability, often spanning several generations; that it is far from indestructible. Even the most finely-made piece of jewelry requires respectful, proper treatment. While jewelry can survive a great deal, that survival is dependent upon the inherent durability of the materials from which it is made, and the negative or positive contributions of the wearer.
In general, jewelry should not be worn while:
· sleeping; because fingers can swell during the night, making rings impossible to remove for bathing or other activities in the morning; because prongs on rings can snag on blankets, thus loosening their grip on stones; because necklaces and bracelets become strained, stressed, kinked and broken when subjected to tossing, turning, and body weight.
· swimming; because chlorine is one of very few chemicals which actually reacts with gold, and eats it away—swimming pools, hot tubs, and jacuzzis have very high chlorine contents, which actually wears away your precious metal (that’s why jewelry looks so clean when you get out of the pool—you really wore away some of the metal, thus hiding scratches!); and because water makes rings fit looser, leading to a possible loss.
· bathing; because long-term exposure to low levels of chlorine is as bad as short-term exposure to high levels; and because soap, shampoo, and conditioner do nothing nice for the appearance of gemstones or textured metal.
· doing housework or yard work; because you can expose your pieces to every possible negative force: chlorine (from household cleaners), abrasives which can scratch metals and gems (from other household cleaners), violent vibrations which can gradually loosen stones (from vacuum cleaner or lawnmower), heavy lifting which can bend rings and loosen stones, and complete destruction (a tumble through a garbage disposal or vacuum cleaner).
· working out; because lifting weights (either free or on machines) can lead to bending rings, possible stone loss, the kinking of neckchains, and the breaking of bracelets; because other athletic activities can cause swelling of the fingers, thus making rings dangerous to wear; and because sports can make necklaces, bracelets, and rings instruments of pain for yourself or others.
· using hand-held tools; because of damage to your rings (either through denting, poking, or scratching) or to your fingers or hands.
· lifting heavy items; because of damage to your rings by denting or distorting, and possibly loosening stones; and because of possible damage to your fingers or hands.
· Make your jewelry the last thing you put on before you leave your home (assuming you aren’t about to go out and do any of the “restricted” activites listed above!). That will keep your pieces from getting dingy from exposure to soaps and cosmetics.
· Establish a “safe place” to keep jewelry when you are not wearing it. When at home, your “safe place” should be a suitable jar of jewelry cleaner (or in the case of items which have porous gems, in a special pouch). That way, not only is your jewelry in a location you remember, it’s cleaning at the same time! When away from home, think carefully first: “Rather than remove my ring to wash my hands, and risk forgetting it or knocking it down the drain, should I just leave it on, and be sure to clean it later, when I get home?” If you are good at establishing and keeping habits, you can have a “safe place” in your suit pocket, purse, or briefcase. A simple bag or pouch will do.
· It is unwise to take your jewelry on vacation. To begin, hotels will not take responsibility for items left in rooms, even if kept in a wall safe. You will also sign a waiver of responsibility if you use a hotel safe deposit box. When youare away from home, you are less likely to maintain a “safe place,” so it is simply best to leave your jewelry at home. Many people have difficulty with this, but consider which is worse: having strangers not know you are married versus having other strangers walk away with your jewelry.
· Insure, insure, insure! Jewelry pieces are small items with high value. . .for those reasons, they are coveted by thieves and robbers, and more likely to be lost or damaged than most valuable items you own. The biggest favor you can do yourself, unless you are prepared to replace items out of your own pocket, is to insure your jewelry against all perils. Be prepared for the unexpected—loss, hotel theft, mysterious disappearance, freak accident, clasp failure, prong breakage—by submitting your retail replacement value jewelry appraisal to your insurance agent, so that a jewelry rider may be attached to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.
· Do not ignore loose gemstones or diamonds. While most small jiggles, wobbles, or spinning is not imminently dangerous, why risk it? Remove the piece, and keep it in its “safe place” until it can be brought to your jeweler for inspection and repair. Playing with a loose stone is not to your advantage, and never try to repair a piece of jewelry yourself.
· 18K gold: either yellow or white, 18K gold is often considered the “crowning glory” of a fine piece of jewelry. While unsuitable for a very rough wearer, due to its softness and ease of scratching; this metal’s forgiveness makes it ideal for setting colored gemstones, especially more fragile ones, or for invisibly-set gems of any kind. A very unwise choice of metal for prong-setting a diamond, however. 18K gold items need to be checked for wear once a year. A polishing cloth will keep them looking their best.
Great care is taken to set gemstones and diamonds in jewelry. Often, such techniques are a mystery to the consumer. Knowing a little more about how stones are set can help you better care for your jewelry and gems.
· Prong-setting: often the most beautiful way to set a stone, but also the least durable. Into each prong a groove is cut, into which the stone’s edge is seated. The remaining prong work above is pushed down onto the top of the stone. Most losses of prong-set stones are due to long-term neglect: as the metal wears off the top of the prongs, less and less tension secures the stone, finally resulting in a very minor blow loosening the stone. For this reason, platinum prongs are strongly suggested for all applications where possible, because wear occurs so slowly, that neglect does not matter. The remainder of losses are attributable to trauma: a prong is bent back, the whole head is knocked crooked or askew, or the whole head is knocked off the piece. The best one can do is avoid activities which might result in such abuse, and have prongs checked twice a year. To clean (assuming a non-porous stone), simply leave overnight in your jewelry cleaning solution. If any dirt is trapped, gently use a toothbrush or other small, soft brush (but no toothpaste!) to remove it. Finally, rinse in running tap water. To dry, try forcefully blowing at the side or underside of the stone, then finishing up by dabbing with a facial tissue to soak up any remaining water.