From rustic jewelry trees (featured tree above is from West Elm) to lady-like, painted ceramic wares, jewelry storage options have dug itself a nice little niche within the home and interior décor industry. However, as temptingly-stylish as those options appear, I encourage you to think twice and perhaps opt for something a little more orthodox.
The best way to care for and maintain the life of your jewelry is by truly treating it like treasure. Keep your pieces individually tucked away, cleaned regularly, and have your finer pieces examined by a professional on a yearly basis to make sure that your gem settings are secure. Taking these measures will help ensure that your jewelry indeed lasts a lifetime and longer.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow:
-Avoid wearing jewelry when using household chemicals such as chlorine bleach. These substances can lead to the discoloration or damage of your fine metals and mountings. Chlorine bleach can pit gold alloys.
-Avoid wearing your jewelry when involved in athletic activities or rough manual work, as a gemstone can be susceptible to coming loose or chipped if it sustains a hard blow.
-Make sure jewelry is the last thing to be put on when getting ready for the day, and the first thing taken off when winding down the evening. Cosmetics, lotions, and perfumes all have the potential to damage your pieces.
-When storing your jewelry, keep your pieces separated if possible, so that they do no tumble against each other. This can lead to the scratching and dulling of the metal. Utilize those ring rolls and padded ring slots that you typically see in jewelry boxes. An alternative is storing your pieces in anti-tarnish soft cloth pouches or air-tight bags or boxes.
-For your diamond and silver jewelry, a regular home cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner or by hand will keep your pieces looking sparkling new. To make your own jewelry cleaning solution, mix one part ammonia to six parts water and gently scrub with a soft cloth or a soft toothbrush (one that hasn’t been used for any other purpose than jewelry cleaning, please!) to loosen dirt and restore the diamond’s brilliance. Rinse after cleaning.
-If a jewelry professional has told you that your gem settings are getting worn down, avoid cleaning your piece with an ultrasonic cleaner until your setting has been “re-tipped” (the process where additional metal is usually added to the worn-out tips of your prongs and polished to match the look of the original setting). Ultrasonic cleaners utilize high frequency sound waves within a soapy fluid to remove oils and grime that have accumulated within your piece. However, in insecure settings, this can shake the gems loose from their mountings.
-Be especially careful with antique and estate jewelry. Sometimes these pieces are too fragile to endure even a toothbrush scrubbing. In these cases, simply rinse the piece with some water and wipe with a soft cloth.
-Be aware of any treatments that your gemstones may have undergone. This will impact how you should have your jewelry cleaned. Treated stones like emeralds are often filled with oils or resins to reduce the appearance of inclusions. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners may wind up purging those treatments from the stones, negatively affecting the stone’s appearance and even stability.
-Soft gems, such as pearls, can be easily scratched. Never use detergents, ultrasonic or steam cleaners when cleaning your pearls. The GIA recommended method for pearl cleaning is using an unused makeup brush and gently brushing the pearls clean with warm, soapy water. Then, allow the pearls to lay flat on a towel to dry completely before touching them again. The wet string can stretch, as well as attract dirt.
-Since pearls are such a soft gem, wear and store them separately from other jewelry, preferably in a cloth bag. Storing them in a slightly damp linen cloth will help the pearls from drying out in a low humidity environment and centrally heated areas.