How To Care For Your Gems & Jewelry

Gemstone Jewelry – How To Care For Them

Most gemstones are reasonably durable while some are not so durable.

While the not so durable need special care, the ones that are reasonably durable still do need some form of care and attention.

Fine jewelry is a precious possession that is designed and crafted to last more than a lifetime.

Just follow a few general rules and they will last for generations, still looking brand new, or at least almost so.

How To Keep Your Jewelry Clean, Bright & Sparkling

1. Jewelry especially rings tend to accumulate dirt, grime and grease behind the stone, if worn regularly over an extended period. Clean transparent gemstones by simply soaking them in water with a touch of detergent. The ones used for dish-washing should be good enough.

2. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the stone.

3. Take care not to use excessive force as even the toughest gemstone can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions or other structural weakness. Structural weaknesses may not be visible to the eye. (Even the hardest gemstones like diamonds, rubies and sapphires may shatter with a single well-placed blow especially if they possess structural weaknesses)

4. A word of caution - think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires may, for most cases, be tough enough to withstand the force created by ultrasonic cleaners, but remember that even these may shatter if they have any structural weakness(these weaknesses may not be visibly evident). When in doubt, leave the ultrasonic cleaner out.

5. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires, and most other gemstones can be cleaned with a touch of ammonia in water to remove all films, oil, grease and dirt.

6. Caution : Never use an ultrasonic cleaner or ammonia for cleaning such opaque gemstones like lapis-lazuli , turquoise, malachite or onyx. They should be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. Alternatively, you may rinse them with running water and then wiped off with a clean, soft tissue or cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, which may build up inside the stone and discolor them (especially if they are dyed).

7. Opals require special care. Do not use an ultrasonic cleaner or ammonia. Keep opals away from heat and strong light because these may dry out the water content in opals.

8. Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber, which are soft and porous, should be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Alternatively, you can rinse them quickly with water and then wipe them with a clean dry cloth. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular. Therefore apply hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume before wearing these organic gems. After taking off your organic gemstone jewelry, it is a good idea to rinse them briskly in running water and then quickly wipe dry with a soft, clean cloth or tissue as perspiration may damage these gems over an extended period. Alternatively, you can use a soft moist cloth to wipe the organic gems.

9. Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don't scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box. So, Do NOT jumble your jewelry pieces in a drawer or jewelry case.

10. If you wear your jewelry regularly, visit your jeweller once in 6 months to have your jewelry checked for loose prongs, worn mountings, and general wear and tear. However, if you do not wear them regularly, once a year would be fine.

While at the jewellers, you might as well have your jewelry professionally cleaned. Caution : If you suspect that you have accidentally dropped your gemstone jewelry or if the jewelry have suffered a hard knock or blow, do not wait for 6 months – see your jeweller immediately and have the jewelry thoroughly checked.

John L K Ng, G.G.

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