CARE AND CLEANING OF FINE JEWELERY:
Gems and precious metals are gifts of nature, which need special care. Even though a gem may be millions of years old, once mined and worn, it is exposed to conditions and chemicals that can damage it.
The harder the gem, the less vulnerable it is to potential damage. A diamond, for example, is the hardest gem known to man, and that's one reason why it's "forever."
Hardness is based on a gem-trade standard called the Mohs Scale, developed in the early 19th century. The scale is structured so that material rated at each higher number can scratch substances with lower numbers. Diamonds are rated the highest, at 10; rubies and sapphires are Mohs 9; emeralds and topaz 8; and garnets, tourmalines and quartz, 7. Anything softer than a 7 can be scratched, including opal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral, pearl.
• Don’t wear fine jewelry when doing housework or gardening
• Don't heap your jewelry into one drawer, Remember a diamond ring can scratch that pearl necklace. Keep them separate and ideally wrapped in velvet, paper, or silk.
• Do check for loose stones frequently by gently taping the piece with your finger near your ear.
• Do get pearls restrung every two years or annually with frequent use.
• Do clean fine jewelry often to maintain its sparkle and beauty. Do not use toothpaste as its abrasives can damage softer gems and metals. All fine jewelry can be safely cleaned by soaking for 10 minutes in warm soapy water (using a non-detergent soap). Use a soft brush on harder gems to loosen any dirt around the prongs. To reduce greasy build-up on diamond jewelry, dip it in plain alcohol or vodka before soaking.
WHY DOES GOLD DISCOLOR FINGERS?
By Randy Welch, Research and Development
You may think that faulty manufacturing or underkarating might be the problem when a ring “turns,” blackening or discoloring either the skin and clothing, or the jewelry itself. However, that is not the case. Please understand the causes and how to prevent them.
The most common reason is metallic abrasion, caused by makeup on skin or clothing. Cosmetics often contain compounds harder than the jewelry itself,
which wear or rub off very tiny particles. Very finely divided metal always appears black rather than metallic, so it looks like a jet-black dust. When
this dust comes into contact with absorbent surfaces such as skin or clothing, it sticks, forming a black, smudge.
To prevent this, you should try switching cosmetics. If this is not possible, its recommend that you remove rings and other jewelry while applying them, and clean skin areas in contact with jewelry with soap and water.
Another cause is actual corrosion of the metals, Gold itself does not corrode, but its primary base-metal alloys of silver or copper will do so—forming very dark chemical compounds,—under moist or wet conditions.
When you perspire, fats and fatty acids released can cause corrosion of 14-karat gold, especially when exposed to warmth and air. This problem can be worse in seacoast and semitropical areas, where chlorides combine with perspiration to form a corrosive element that discolors skin. Smog fumes gradually attack jewelry and are evident as tarnish that rubs off on the skin.
Its suggested that you remove jewelry often and use an absorbent powder, free of abrasives, on skin that comes into contact with jewelry.
Even the design of jewelry can be an influence. Wide shanks have more surface area to contact abrasives or corrosives. Concave surfaces inside a
shank form collection points that trap moisture and contaminants, also causing a type of dermatitus.
Remove all rings before using soaps, cleaning compounds or detergents, and clean your rings frequently. As well as solving the problem, you’ll be amazed at how much better your rings look!
In addition to these corrective actions, its recommended that you switch to 18-karat gold or platinum. The lower base-metal content of 18-karat gold—23%, versus almost 42%—significantly reduces the problem and the use of platinum should eliminate it completely.
MAINTAINING YOUR JEWELERY
Ownership of jewelry can be a delightful experience for many people. Purchasing a new item sometimes marks a major lifetime event such as an engagement, marriage, anniversary or birthday. These items often take on a symbolic and sentimental significance to the wearer and are sometimes worn everyday. This can subject them to very harsh treatment that can destroy or deface them. However, jewelry will retain beauty as well as longevity if proper care is taken to maintain it.
• Regular cleaning is important for keeping gems and metal looking their best. Soak in a 50/50 water and ammonia bath for 10 to 15 minutes. Another good cleaning mixture is three parts water, one part ammonia and one part dish detergent. Use a soft brush to help remove any build up and then rinse the piece with warm water, then dry. Alcohol will also remove greasy build-ups.
• It's also important to check the security of the stones. Raised prongs can catch on sweaters and break off causing a possible loss of the stone. Inspecting them regularly can prevent this.
• Chains on bracelets and necklaces should be cleaned and inspected before wearing. A defective clasp is a sure way of losing a chain. Inspect the clasp for distortion and make sure it fully closes.
• Lotions, powders and soaps should be cleaned from the surface frequently. Applying cosmetics first, then the jewelry will reduce exposure to these substances.
• Proper storage that keeps pieces from rubbing together is very disireable. Just throwing jewelry into a common box or drawer will take its toll on the finish of the pieces. Softer gemstones can be chipped or scratched by rubbing against other pieces. Soft lined jewelry boxes that store items in separate compartments are worth the investment.
• Chains should be stored by hanging because they can become tangled and knotted. These knots can be difficult and tie consuming to remove and they can cause kinks in some chains that are impossible to fix.
• Clean organic gems such as pearls, amber, coral and ivory with mild osap solution. These materials are relatively soft and can be damaged with alcohol or heat. They are best stored so that their surfaces will not come in contact with other gems or metal. Mineral or crystalline gems are harder and should be cleaned with ammonia and water.
• Don't expose jewelry to harsh conditions that are sometimes encountered during daily wear. Many of these situations can be avoided by simply taking off the items while performing the task and then putting them back on again later.