Your insurance on any one of our products is determined by an appraisal - an insurance claim by the company determining the worth of the item in today’s market (which fluctuates depending on the given price of gold/gemstones.) Moreover, it can also be certified anywhere by a GIA Certified Gemologist.
Of all the items that we receive as gifts or buy for ourselves, jewellery is one of the most treasured and sentimental. So we need to know how to properly care for our cherished items. Jewellers are available for the check-ups, repairs and professional polishing. However, we can help to keep our jewellery maintained and beautiful by taking a bit of time to care for it properly ourselves.
Our jewellery can become damaged and we often do not even remember how it happened. A few precautionary good habits can prevent a lot of unnecessary damage. There are a few activities that can be very damaging to your jewellery. Gardening, outdoor work and housekeeping offer many opportunities. As well as using exercise equipment which subjects our pieces to hard hits and pulls. One of the most important rules is never to wear your jewellery in a hot tub or chlorinated pool. You also have to remember not to subject jewellery to cleaning products. Many chemicals can cause stains, surface damage and deterioration of metals.
Why is chlorine bleach so damaging to our jewellery? It is not very often that we find jewellery made of pure gold; 24K. Gold is alloyed with other metals such as silver, copper and nickel. Simply put, chlorine bleach will attack the alloys and cause our jewellery to break down, pit or in the event of extreme exposure, fall apart. Some people enjoy stainless steel jewellery but exposure to chlorinated water has caused this jewellery to break down on the top surface layer.
When we put our jewellery away, we should keep it separate from other pieces. If we have a jewellery box we can scratch and dent items and chip gemstones by dropping one piece on top of the other. Jewellery boxes often have individual compartments. Jewellery rolls also have separation compartments. If you receive sterling jewellery in a protective, anti-tarnish pouch, it is advisable that you continue to store it here. You can also separate pieces by wrapping them in tissue or soft cloth. People often keep jewellery in safety deposit boxes. One should remember to keep these special pieces protected while stored away.
Many items are sensitive to the products we use every day. Organic items such as cultured pearls and natural pearls can easily become attacked by simply wearing them against our skin. That goes for metals too. So before you put your jewellery on, put on your lotions, perfumes and use your hairspray. When you are finished with the products you use on yourself, then you can put on your jewellery. After you take your jewellery off, it is a good time to clean off any residue of skin oils and products by simply wiping the items with a clean, soft cloth. Polishing cloths are available to keep our gold and silver clean and shiny.
There are ways to keep your jewellery clean. Skin oils and products can leave a cloudy, sticky or soapy looking layer on gemstones and diamonds as well as small open spaces. It can be very surprising how quickly jewellery can collect ‘build-up’ in small areas and under stones.
When you clean your own jewellery, never do it over an open drain. Try doing it on the counter or on a table surface instead. Buy a soft small brush like a make-up brush or toothbrush (nothing with metal bristles). Have a dry soft cloth available for the counter and to dry your pieces. In a bowl, make up a warm soapy solution (liquid dish soap is great). For extra security, you can put a strainer in the soapy water and then put your jewellery in the strainer; one piece at a time is recommended. Let it soak for a few minutes. Then take a soft brush and clean, especially under stones and diamonds and in crevices. By using the strainer and brushing and cleaning over a cloth surface, you are able to watch out for any stones which may be loose or fall out.
Sometimes jewellery is stained or has products harden in crevices and onto stones. This is a time to visit a jeweller to get them professionally cleaned and polished.
Not only jewellers have ultrasonic cleaners. Consumers can also buy a smaller, household size. These cleaners use ultrasounds which agitate the water or solution. This action can get the smallest recesses clear of dirt and unwanted substances. Jewellery and gems come out gleaming and incredibly clean.
It is important to understand that some gemstones, metals and jewellery materials are sensitive to ultrasonic cleaners and /or to the solutions. Always make sure that you know what is safe to clean in these machines no matter how small they are or how safe the solutions. Several gemstones such as emeralds and opals (for example) cannot be cleaned in ultrasonic units. Pearls and other organic materials must stay out as well. Costume jewellery should stay out of ultrasonic cleaners and also out of commercially available cleaning solutions. Non-precious metals/ base metals can ruin the solutions and can also become stained themselves. If you have a broken or damaged item, keep it out of an ultrasonic cleaner.
Pearls are beautiful in jewellery and due to their sensitive nature, need special care. If you have a strand, it should be checked every couple of years for security. Also check the security of the clasp and if re-stringing is necessary. Earrings, rings and other pearl items should be checked as well. When cleaning a strand, just use gentle soapy water, rinse and roll dry in a soft cloth. People sometimes save the old soft cloth diapers for this purpose.
Some gemstones can be damaged when subject to thermal shock. Severe or sudden temperature changes can fracture some stones such as opals. Cultured and natural pearls can also be damaged in this way.
Most jewellers do not charge people when they check their jewellery. Having your jewellery professionally checked on a yearly basis is a good habit to get into. If you have an incident where you feel you may have damaged an item or gemstone, visit a jeweller to have it checked.
Jewellery can be very sentimental and valuable to you. Please put a bit of time aside to properly care for it.
This information is offered by Sonja Sanders
G.G. (GIA), CAP (CJA), Register Master Valuer
She is a Gemmologist and Master Goldsmith working at Jewellery by Sanders with her family. Besides her business activities, Sonja enjoys giving informative consumer talks and teaching appraising and gemmology. She is proud to be a board member of the Canadian Jeweller’s Association.