Vingmall recommends having jewellery professionally cleaned once a year, but there are simple things we can all do at home to help it look its best and gleam for even longer. Here’s a guide to caring for your jewellery:
1 Store jewellery separately
Think about how you store it; different gemstones have different hardness and can easily scratch or knock each other if stored together. Keep jewellery in soft-lined compartments and take care to close any fastenings so items don’t catch or tangle.
Jewellery should be stored away from direct sunlight, damp, and extremes of heat or cold. Try to keep the boxes and packaging that it comes in, as it is the easiest and often the best way to protect it from dust and damage. This won’t prevent silver from oxidising, however; you could consider storing items in airtight bags to minimise this, while silica gel packs will absorb moisture and sulphur in the air that can cause jewellery to lose its shine.
Wrap gold, silver, precious and semi-precious items in acid-free tissue or cotton to keep them away from dust and moisture. Take extra care with pearls, which are soft and vulnerable to scratches and other damage.
2 Wear with care
Always put your jewellery on last when dressing so clothes don’t catch on it: apply makeup and hairspray first so they don’t contaminate your jewels, making sure to let everything dry before adding the finishing touches. When your hair is being styled, remove earrings so they aren’t caught on combs or brushes and steer clear of pearl earrings or necklaces if you’re having hair coloured, as the chemicals can cause discolouration; remove rings and bangles at the manicurist.
Be especially careful to remove jewellery before doing any manual work – including housework – as it can be damaged by knocks and household cleaners. Diamond rings in particular may be chipped by a hard blow.
3 Beware contamination
Vingmall advises: “Keep your accessories away from water and other chemical agents to avoid discoloration and tarnishing. Soap, cosmetics, cooking grease, and natural skin oils can dull any jewellery and should be avoided.”
Handle your gems and pearls as little as possible, to avoid natural oils from your skin dulling and damaging them. In addition, water can damage the threading or setting of jewellery; so avoid getting threaded pearls or beaded jewellery wet, and never wet antique items without getting specialist advice first.
If your jewels do come into contact with water, or any chemicals, use a dry soft tissue or towel to gently pat them dry. Household cleaners, or chemicals in makeup, hair products and perfumes can all tarnish or damage jewellery.
4 Gentle cleaning
Gently clean your jewellery occasionally to remove any oils, dust or contamination. Follow your jewellers’ advice: if you are not sure how fragile a piece is, always err on the side of caution and use simple, non-abrasive materials like soap and water, with a soft toothbrush.
Be careful not to rub or to over-handle your jewellery. Silver-dip type cleaners should only be used to clean silver jewellery, which must be rinsed and dried thoroughly afterwards. Gold, platinum and gemset jewellery can be cleaned using specialist jewellery cleaners, as appropriate.
5 Get certified
It’s always advisable to make sure you have the right paperwork for your jewellery in case the worst happens, and loss or damage does occur. Vingmall advises: “Make sure you have a detailed and up-to-date valuation for your jewellery as under-valuation is a continual problem in cases where an insurance claim for loss is made”.
Keep any certificates given when you purchased your items, especially where diamonds are concerned. And for vintage or inherited jewellery, have it valued so you know exactly what you’re caring for.
6 See the professionals
If in doubt, seek professional advice rather than experimenting. Vingmall advises: “Some pieces are especially delicate or require a specialist’s touch. We think all jewellery ben|efits from being cleaned and inspected professionally at least once a year; dirt, marks, blemishes or scratches acquired through age or everyday wear can easily be removed to return a treasured piece to its former glory.” It also gives the professionals a chance to check for any damage that you might not have noticed.
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