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JEWELRY & GEMSTONE CARE 

Preserve your jewelry for generations with these simple tips and recommendations

 

 

BASIC JEWELRY CARE 

 

RINGS: 

Come in at least every 6 months to keep your gemstones safe and secure.  We will check all gemstone settings to make sure your precious stones are secure. If you can hear jingling or rattling when you tap it near your ear, you likely have loose stones that are in danger of falling out. Bring in your item right away to have the settings inspected and tightened.  If prongs seem to be catching and scratching, they are likely lifted, therefore your gemstones are in danger of falling out. And, of course, if you can see your gemstone move around in its setting, the gemstone is not secure and should be tightened to prevent loss. Cleaning and inspecting are always complimentary. 

 

NECKLACES & CHAINS: 

Beware of babies, puppies, and sleeping while wearing.  Grabby little hands, wayward paws, and ungainly sleep movements are the reasons we most frequently see broken chains in need of repair. 

 

EARRINGS:  

Are your earring backs and clasps tight? If not, it might be time to replace them or have them repaired. With use over time, the hole in a typical friction back (aka, a “butterfly back”) will get bigger and no longer hold.  We offer replacement earring backs of all kinds, including locking back systems. If your earrings have lever backs or omega clasps, make sure that they close properly.  If your clasps are loose, wobbly, or not closing properly, we can help.

 

BRACELETS: 

Check that all gemstones are present and that your clasp is tight each month.  If you have recently knocked your bracelet against something hard, or if it has gotten snagged, don’t hesitate to bring it in for a complimentary inspection of any stone settings, links, hinges, and clasps.

 

GOOD JEWELRY PRACTICES & CARE INSTRUCTIONS

 

Pre-use care

Cleaning your gemstones after they get dirty is only part of proper care. Apply your perfumes, colognes, and hairsprays before you put on gemstone jewelry. Not only will these chemicals reduce gem brilliance (the ability to return light), but they can be highly destructive to some gems, such as pearls, which react violently to acid and alcohol. If possible, wear your perfumes and colognes in areas that won’t come in contact with your gems. In the case of pearls, try to avoid contact with skin, whether you’re wearing perfume or not. Perspiration is detrimental to pearls. If it’s impossible to keep your pearls away from your skin (if they’re on chokers or bracelets, for example), wipe them clean with a barely-damp cloth immediately after wearing them, lay them flat on a towel, and dab with a soft dry cloth. Pearls should be the last article to go on and first to come off.

Make it a habit to take off your jewelry when you get home—yes, even your wedding rings

Try a small, open, cloth-lined dish or box on a dresser, nightstand, or next to wherever you keep your keys.  New habits take time and practice to become automatic.  Keep it up—your jewelry will thank you!

 

Avoid wearing your jewelry while gardening, at the gym, playing sports, or in the barn 

You wouldn’t take your Lamborghini off-roading, would you?  Fine jewelry is made to wear, but wear with care. Most people will bend over backwards to avoid scratching their car, but then they expect their fine jewelry to survive their day-to-day lives unscathed. Car steel is a 6 on the Moh’s hardness scale. Precious metals, however, have a hardness of approximately 2.5-4.5, depending on the alloy. Keep in mind that even a gentle bike ride can cause your treasured jewelry to bang against metal that is harder than precious metal.  If you cannot take off your rings to work out or garden, we implore our customers to wear proper gloves, providing some level of cushioning and support.

 

Avoid all household cleaners

Many household cleaners contain ammonia, which can be too harsh for delicate gems or vintage jewelry. Chlorine bleach can pit or damage gold alloys.

 

Take off your jewelry before swimming

Along with the risks of having an item slip or break off only to be lost forever, chlorine attacks the alloys in gold and silver! Jewelry made of 14 karat gold is 58.5% gold and the other 41.5% is a mix of different metal alloy, depending on the color of the gold and the manufacturer’s formula. 18 karat gold is 75% pure gold and the balance are different metal alloys. Chlorine attacks the molecular structure of the piece, and suspends the alloys in solution, carrying away some of the alloys with each exposure, greatly weakening your piece of jewelry. Exposure to chlorine substantially increases the risk of weakening your gemstone settings, therefore your gemstones are at greater risk of falling out. The piece can also crack as a result of the effects of chlorine and other damaging chemicals, so do not wear them in swimming pools, hot tubs, or while working with bleach and other harsh chemicals and acids. Platinum and palladium are nearly chemically inert, so they are not as likely to be affected.

Clean your jewelry regularly! Dirt under the prongs and gemstones will cause premature wear & tear 

Dirt and grime build-up will dull the beauty and sparkle of your gemstone jewelry and cause stones to be slowly pushed out. This is true for all your jewelry, but rings are the most vulnerable because we wash our hands frequently throughout the day. Soap residue, lotion, sunscreen, dirt, and grime build up inside your rings over time and can gradually cause your gemstones and diamonds to be pushed out of their settings and be lost.  As these substances accumulate inside your ring settings through normal wear, they will dry and harden, acting like cement behind the gems. Then, as you wash your hands during the day, or while washing dishes or preparing food, this buildup becomes moist and expands, creating pressure within the setting that works to loosen your gems. Over time, with repeated wetting, expanding, drying, and contracting, the gems are slowly pushed out of their settings. We invite you to stop into K.Jon’s for complimentary professional cleanings and inspections to avoid these problems and keep them looking beautiful, sparkling, and well cared for.

 

A very soft brush such as a used, soft toothbrush or a soft and clean makeup brush, a lint-free cloth, warm water (never hot!), and a very gentle cleanser such as Dawn or Woolite is enough to clean most jewelry, however scratches and damage can occur to some soft stones and materials.  Avoid abrupt changes in temperature to prevent stones from cracking. When in doubt, don’t risk ruining your precious jewels. Bring them to us and we will give them a complimentary cleaning. 

 

USE ULTRASONIC CLEANERS WITH CAUTION

While you can purchase an affordable professional ultrasonic cleaner, you should be aware that not all gems and jewelry can be safely cleaned in it.  What’s more, the vibration generated by the machine can sometimes shake gems loose or chip gems that are set with their girdles touching.  

 

This type of cleaning is best left to jewelry professionals who know about different gem materials, gem treatments,  and understand when and how to use the ultrasonic cleaner safely.

 

Ultrasonic cleaners should NOT be used to clean: 

  • Gemstones such as emeralds, with surface-reaching breaks that have been filled with a substance such as oil, resin or a glass-like materials. Emeralds are almost always treated with oil or resin, are naturally often very brittle and should NEVER go in any ultrasonic cleaner.

  • Organic gem materials such as pearls, coral, ivory, or amber

  • Gems that have been coated with a non-permanent substance like plastic or wax, frequently used on jade and lapis lazuli, and emeralds

  • Some heat-treated gemstones

  • Gems that are susceptible to heat and temperature changes whether they are treated or not. Some of these gems include emerald, tanzanite, feldspar (sunstone and moonstone), fluorite, iolite, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal, topaz, turquoise, zircon and others

PEARL STRANDS

Pearls are usually strung securely with silk and are knotted between each pearl to avoid abrasion and to prevent loss if the string should break. If your pearls seem to “travel” loosely on the thread or if the thread has discolored, it is time to have them restrung. Have the pearls restrung once a year, if worn frequently. Heavier pearls may need to be restrung more often. If the pearls seem to have become dingy, it is time for a cleaning. We generally do not recommend a thorough cleaning of your strung pearls because the silk string can stretch, creating gaps between the knots and pearls. If you must, we recommend dabbing them gently with a soft, lint-free cloth barely-damp with body-temperature water and a tiny bit of a very gentle cleanser such as Woolite. While the strand of pearls lays on a soft towel, gently dab each pearl with a soft, lint-free cloth barely-dampened with the soapy water, and avoid tugging at the string. Keep the pearl strand flat on a dry towel and dab dry with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. Allow it to sit, untouched, to dry for 24 hours. 

 

PROPER STORAGE

Pearls and opals will dry out and become discolored or lose their luster, even crack if stored in too dry an environment. Never expose pearls or opals to hair sprays, cosmetics, perfumes, sun lotions or insect repellents – the acids in them will attack opals and pearls. Pearl and opal dealers will keep an open container of water INSIDE their safes (and the make sure to keep them filled) to avoid this sort of damage. You should also do this. It is ok to keep your pearls and opals in a sealed plastic bag for a short period of time, but they will dry out and potentially sustain damage if left for too long. This also applies to leaving these jewels in a hot, closed car – we do not recommend this. Pearls should be the last article to go on and first to come off. 

Colored Gemstones are not as durable as diamonds and can scratch and chip more easily

Please see our Gemstone Care Guide below

 

K.Jons strongly recommends insuring your fine jewelry. 

For more information about jewelry insurance & appraisals, click here

GEMSTONE CARE GUIDE

 

Amber:  Damp cloth and dry. Warm water and detergent is also effective.. Amber is an organic gem, a fossilized and hardened form of resin from ancient pine trees.

Amethyst:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. Most amethyst is heat treated to bring out best color, but it can crack as

well as fade if exposed to high temperatures.

 

Aquamarine:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  This blue beryl also receives heat treatments to bring out its blue color. Heat can still cause color fading.

 

Carnelian:  Moist cloth. Rub briskly with dry cloth. Since wax won’t adhere to this tough variety of quartz, ancient people famously used this material to make seals.

 

Citrine:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. This heat-treated quartz will fade when exposed to heat.

 

Coral:  Damp cloth and dry.  Another organic gem, made from the exudations of tiny marine animals. Extremely sensitive to flame and heat.

 

Diamond:  Ammonia-based cleaner brings out the best sparkle. Warm water, detergent (grease cutting such as Dawn), and soft brush. Diamonds have the greatest hardness of any natural material, which means they resist scratches better than any other gem. These stones take heat well, too. However, mechanical systems could pose a danger if a stone isn’t examined well beforehand. Although resistant to scratches, diamonds are susceptible to damage from physical blows. Diamonds attract lipids from the environment, therefore, to maintain brilliance, remove any grease buildup.  

 

Emerald:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. Most emeralds are routinely bathed in warm oil after faceting to improve color. Sometimes, dyes are added. Mechanical systems can boil out the oil. Inclusions in emerald often weaken the stone. Thus, mechanical systems can potentially cause breakage.

Garnet:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Although relatively hard and tough, garnets do have some heat sensitivity.

 

Heliodor:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. These yellow beryl gems tend to be reasonably hardy and tough. However, avoid temperature extremes.

 

Ivory:  Wipe clean with damp cloth and dry. Warm water, detergent, and soft brush also work well.  This organic gem material, consisting of calcium phosphate, sometimes receives harsh dyes. So much so that chemical cleaning could impair its appearance.

 

Jade:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. Both jadeite and nephrite are tough with little to worry about. They may withstand mechanical cleaning. However, acid treatments to improve color may weaken some specimens. Have a professional gemologist examine any pieces to identify treatments. Both jade varieties can take a high lustrous polish. Re-polishing requires professional equipment.

 

Kunzite:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  This spodumene variety has a distinct cleavage plane, which opens with little impact. Sunlight causes its lavender color to fade. This is definitely a “night stone.”

 

Lapis lazuli:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  This porous material can vary greatly in appearance. It often receives dyes to improve color.

 

Malachite:  Cool water, detergent, and soft brush.  Polishes bright but wear can cause finish to dull. Rub briskly with wool to help restore finish. Sensitive to acid, ammonia, heat, and hot water.

 

Opal:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Very sensitive to pressure and thermal shock (hot or cold), which causes crazing (surface cracking). This soft and fragile gem requires special care.

 

Pearl:  Wipe with damp, soft cloth. Remove stains with a mild soapy solution on a rag. Don’t dip pearls into liquid. Dry thoroughly. Blow out drill holes carefully. Moisture trapped there often causes discoloration.  These organic gems require special care to look their best. 

 

Peridot:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Acids (even from perspiration) and heat can damage peridot stones. Wear with care and protective settings, since surface scratches will diminish this gem’s finish.

 

Ruby:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. More and more rubies receive oil treatments. Be aware that mechanical cleaning could remove this oil. In addition, high heat could damage gems with many crystal inclusions.

 

Sapphire:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. Sapphire, like ruby, is gem-quality corundum. Thus, it generally receives the same treatments as ruby, so the same care advice applies. This gem may receive oil treatments, and inclusions may weaken its normally tough structure.

 

Spinel:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush. Mechanical cleaning.  Hard and durable, spinel should give you little trouble. They hold their beauty over time.

 

Tanzanite:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Heat treatments create this gem’s stunning blue color. Tanzanite is fragile, relatively soft, and sensitive to heat and vibrations.

 

Turquoise:  Wipe with a damp cloth, then wipe dry immediately.  Avoid cleaning this porous gem material with soap, detergents, or cleaning solutions. They tend to penetrate the material, thus turning it green and/or an unattractive off-color blue.

 

Topaz:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Easy cleavage makes mechanical cleaning relatively dangerous for topaz. Both vibrations and heating may damage these gems. Jewelry stones may also have stress points from prongs due to improper settings.

 

Tourmaline:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Although reasonably hard gems, tourmalines tend to be brittle. The pink variety is often flawed and could be structurally weak, thus vulnerable to vibration damage. These gems are moderately sensitive to heat. Bi-colored crystals sometimes split at color junctures.

 

Zircon:  Warm water, detergent, and soft brush.  Prone to impurities, zircon can be affected by heat extremes. Nevertheless, fine blue and white zircon is heat treated.