Take a good look at your hands. Think about all the wear and tear you put them through on any given day. If you’re like most people, you don’t even notice your rings are slowly losing their luster or that your diamond is losing its brilliance. It’s not until you take a few minutes to clean them up that you remember just how breathtaking your rings can be. Here’s how to bring back the “razzle dazzle” to your fine jewelry.
Generally, most jewelry can be cleaned with mild ammonia mixed with water. (Some exceptions include pearls, emeralds and opal.) It’s important to clean your jewelry with a soft brush to prevent any scratches. It is also a good idea to separate your jewelry to avoid nicks and scrapes.
A diamond is a precious investment that needs to be properly cared for in order to allow light to shine through, creating brilliance and sparkle. Regular, everyday activities such as washing your hands, cooking dinner and natural skin oils all combine to create a dirty, filmy diamond that lacks radiance and sparkle. Products such as powders, makeup, lotions, and soap can all contribute to a soiled diamond, and chemicals in the air can actually discolor the jewelry’s mounting. You should get into the habit of removing your rings when you do any type of household chores that would subject your jewelry to stress or dirt. Place your rings in a small dish (like a small ashtray or covered case) and put it in a safe place where you will always know where it is.
Be especially careful around garbage disposals at your kitchen sink. Believe it or not, I have already had two cases of women losing their engagement rings into the disposal and, while the diamond was not damaged (a nick or two which was easily polished out), the ring was mangled beyond repair. So, a word to the wise!
Diamond and Diamond Jewelry Care
Diamonds are the hardest minerals known to man, but even they require delicate care. To maintain its brilliance, a diamond should be cleaned regularly. It can be cleaned in a solution of half-ammonia and half-cold water. Soak your diamond for 30 minutes and dry it with a lint-free cloth. Gently brush the diamond with a soft toothbrush while it is in the suds. Then rinse it under warm running water. Pat dry with a soft lint-free cloth.
You can also use a brand name liquid jewelry cleaner and follow the instructions given on the label.
Please note that you should never use toothpaste to clean your jewelry. Toothpaste and other abrasive substances can scratch your jewelry.
Everyday activity can loosen a diamond setting so be sure to have your diamond jewelry checked every year.
When it comes to caring for your metal, it’s important to remember that every metal is different. While little maintenance is needed for durable metals such as tungsten, other metals require some attention. For instance, platinum is a strong metal but is susceptible to scratches. Getting your platinum buffed every six months is recommended. You can also remove build-up with jewelry cleaner or mild soap and water. Also, silver is prone to tarnishing. Regular polishing is a simple way to solve this.
Gold is another metal that needs gentle care. Soap film easily builds on the surface of gold, so it’s best to remove your gold jewelry before showering or using household cleaners or chemicals. Chlorine has also been known to weaken gold, causing it to break more easily. Placing your gold jewelry in a solution containing a few drops of ammonia, mild detergent and warm water will bring back its shine. Rubbing alcohol can also be used to remove grease and body oil from gold jewelry.
Cultured Pearl Care
Cultured pearls are especially soft and vulnerable. When getting dressed, your cultured pearls should be the last item you put on and the first item you take off. Makeup, hair spray, perfume and other chemicals are very harmful to cultured pearls. It’s a good idea to wipe them with a clean, damp cloth after each use to remove build-up, dirt and oil. Also, make sure your cultured pearls are completely dry before putting them away. Hot water, steam, extreme temperatures and ultrasonic cleaners should be avoided as well. Upon inspection, some jewelers may also recommend restringing your cultured pearls.
Colored Stone Care
Every colored stone has its unique colors and qualities, and therefore, care is different for each one. A good reference is the Moh’s Scale of Hardness, which measures durability of materials with 10 (diamonds) being the hardest. In some cases, the more durable a stone is, the less likely they are to become damaged in daily activity or regular cleaning. Most colored stones can be cleaned in soapy water, but special care is required for certain stones.
Emeralds especially less expensive ones, are often treated with oils and waxes to improve clarity. This enhancement is not permanent, and long exposure to soapy water can remove the protective coating. Also, emeralds should not be exposed to hot water, steamers and ultrasonic cleaners. Emeralds, which are soft stones, are also susceptible to damage easily and it is not recommended for everyday wear. Rubies and Sapphires are harder and less susceptible to damage.
Tanzanite is 6 1/2 on the Moh’s Scale, making it a very brittle stone. Delicate washing in warm water with mild soap is suitable, but it should never be exposed to vigorous activity, ultrasonic cleaners and excessive temperatures. Extreme temperatures can actually change the color of some stones.
Also, unlike other colored stones, opal is not internally solid but rather gelatinous. It ranks about a six on the hardness scale and is very susceptible to scratches and cracks. Impacts should be avoided as well as ultrasonic cleaners, excessive heat, hot water and steam. It is recommended to clean opals with baby or olive oil to prevent them from drying out.
Steam cleaners should also be avoided for garnet, amethyst, peridot, tourmaline and citrine.
Provided you follow directions exactly for all methods of diamond cleaning, your beautiful jewelry will retain its fire and brilliance for many years to come.
In the meantime, until next time, Mind Your Diamonds!