With Fall in the air, I get all excited about the seasonal transitions happening this time of year… pulling out sweaters and scarves, picking pumpkins and wreaths, and performing my biannual jewelry clean and check. Wait, what??? Yep, that’s right; you need to add jewelry maintenance to your list of fall chores. I know you just rolled your eyes, but it’s true. You really do need to make it a point to take care of your baubles. These precious, and not inexpensive, items deserve proper care. I have several tips that will ensure a longer life for your jewelry. Actually this is sort of my soapbox, so look for a series of posts on this topic.
Since I brought it up, let’s start with a plan. The first step here is remembering to have your jewelry checked. I always tell customers that a good way to do this is to plan to drop by the jewelry store around the same time of year that you have your teeth cleaned or change the batteries in your smoke detectors…twice a year! I’m thinking mostly about your engagement ring or other pieces that you wear daily. I would also note that if you ever notice your ring picking on sweaters or towels go immediately to have it inspected, as you likely have a prong that needs attention. I hate explaining to customers that the reason they lost grandmother’s diamond was because the prongs were, basically, worn to nonexistence and that last dip in the ocean on vacation was the final blow. Please, please, please don’t wear your jewelry in the ocean or lake.
This brings me to daily wear and tear. Engagement rings and wedding bands take an extreme amount of abuse. Think about all of the activities in your day- laundry, gardening, and gym workouts. I know you don’t want to hear this, but these are all times when you should leave your rings in that pretty little dish on your bedside table. We all like for everyone to know that we’re married, but please don’t wear your rings to the gym. If you must, invest in a plain little gold wedding band. You could even wear (I cringe as I say this) one of those silicone wedding bands. Seriously, weights are really rough on ring! As is chlorine, so if you swim regularly, take your rings off before you hop in the pool. Overexposure to chlorine can break down gold and platinum.
Let’s talk about chemicals for a minute. As I said, chemicals can be bad for gold, platinum and silver, but household chemicals can destroy colored stones as well. I have seen all sorts of strange things in this department. Mostly, people tell me they don’t know what happened, but I can usually tell when a piece of jewelry has been exposed to the wrong thing. I once had a customer tell me that she cleaned her wedding ring with bleach. Don’t do this, please don’t. I often hear people say toothpaste, but I warn against that as well. You don’t want to use anything that is abrasive on stones or metal. I would also avoid cleaning jewelry with oxyclean, vinegar, or baking soda (I told you, I’ve heard it all). Besides at-home jewelry cleaning products, the only thing I would recommend would be a little dish washing liquid mixed with warm water. An extra soft toothbrush or a makeup brush can be used to scrub around prongs and detail work.
I want to talk a little bit more about keeping your jewelry clean before I wrap up this post. It is good practice to apply lotions, hair products, and perfume before you put your jewelry on every day (you are taking your jewelry off at night aren’t you). This is a good idea for several reasons. All of these things can build-up causing diamonds and gemstones to appear dark and dull. These types of products can be harmful to softer stones like pearls, turquoise and opal. If you clean your rings regularly, you will decrease the risk of problems, such as chipped stones and broken prongs going unnoticed.
Remember how proud you were on the day you got engaged? You should always feel that way about your jewelry. Let’s keep it clean, ladies! Gents too, but we can discuss your yucky watch bands another day.