If you’re one of the lucky people who unwrapped a piece of jewelry over the holidays, you may be wondering how to keep it looking new and shiny for as long as possible. “As the saying goes, ‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,’” says Kim Henry, Manager at Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry in Lafayette, Louisiana. “While most metals can often be restored to their original brilliance with a little TLC, some gemstones and other delicate materials can bleach, fade, cloud, or loosen with improper treatment or care.”
For instance, it’s important to keep your fine jewelry out of the sun’s harmful rays; just like UVA and UVB can do damage to your skin, they can also rob pearls of their sheen, amethysts of their color, and shell cameos of their deep creaminess. Amber can darken over time if exposed to too much light.
In addition, all fine jewelry should be removed before diving into swimming pools, using household cleaners, or even putting on your makeup; chlorine can damage gold alloys and ammonia, common in many cleaners, can ruin delicate gems or vintage pieces. Hairspray, perfume, soaps, and other cosmetics contain ingredients that can ruin the surface of pearls, turquoise, and opal and can make even the hardiest gemstones and metals appear dull and dirty.
“Luckily, the safest cleaning methods are also the easiest for us to do at home,” says Henry. “You’d be surprised what a little warm water, a touch of mild dish soap, and a soft toothbrush can do for your favorite pieces.” A mild dish soap is one that does not contain antibacterial properties or detergents. Henry recommends using a bowl to prevent an accidental ring toss down the drain.
The above cleaning method is recommended for most gemstones and metals; because of their porous nature, pieces that contain pearls, coral, amber, lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite, and other stones containing several minerals should only be wiped with a slightly damp cloth.
Just as important as keeping your jewelry clean and protected is making sure loose stones don’t turn into lost stones. We happily inspect all ring settings at least twice a year to prevent possible loss due to damaged mountings or prongs.
If you have questions about how to clean or repair your favorite jewelry, please stop by any of our Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry locations. Our experienced staff will make sure your pieces look beautiful for years and years to come.