First, how susceptible is your jewelry to scratches and chemical products? Hardness is based on a gem-trade standard called the Mohs scale. The higher the Mohs scale number, the harder the stone is. The highest Mohs scale rating is 10 (diamonds). Anything with a Mohs scale rating of less than 7 is easily scratched (such as coral, lapis lazuli, opal, pearl, and turquoise). Gold, silver, and platinum are only Mohs 2-1/2 to 4.
Because a diamond can scratch gold or pearls it is always important to store all jewelry pieces separately. Gold jewelry will last you a lifetime if it is taken care of. Gold can be scratched and dented if you are not careful. Because of where they are worn, gold rings and bracelets will get the most damage, much more so than earrings or necklaces. Chemicals also can cause damage to gold. One of the worst is chlorine. Constant exposure to chlorinated cleaning products will make the gold weak and prone to breaking. Don’t wear your gold in the swimming pool or Jacuzzi. Take your jewelry off around the house when cleaning but if you prefer to wear rings and bracelets wear rubber gloves for protection. Even makeup, perfume, hairspray, and perspiration can cause gold jewelry to lose its luster. Clean your jewelry regularly using a good jewelry cleaner. A quick clean can be done with a baby tooth brush and mild soap and a small amount of ammonia. (Never clean in the sink as the jewelry might fall down the drain, always clean in a bowl away from a drain pipe) Grease can be removed from karat gold jewelry by dipping into plain rubbing alcohol. Always rinse thoroughly and dry after cleaning. Keep it wrapped separately in a soft cloth, jewelry box divider or plastic baggie. Keep your eye on prongs that could break and cause the loss of a stone. An occasional visit to a professional jeweler is the best idea.
Platinum is one of the rarest and most durable precious metals. It does not tarnish or get discolored from chlorine. Even though it is very tough you still need to take good care of your platinum jewelry. Store it separately because platinum can be scratched. Platinum can be cleaned in the same manner as other fine jewelry.
You will probably be surprised that sunlight can cause many colored gemstones to fade, change color or become pale. Common stones that are damaged in sunlight (there may be more):
Amethyst, Ametrine, Apatite, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Beryl, Celestite, Chrysoprase, Citrine, Fluorite, Kunzite, Rose Quartz, and Smokey Quartz. Pearls are organic stones and quickly react to any form of chemicals like perfumes, hand lotions, hair spray, etc. Chemicals directly attack the nacre, ruining the luster, which causes patches on your pearl. Put your pearl jewelry on last after you have applied your perfumes, lotions, etc. They should not be worn along with any other jewelry items
such as chains or even watches. Clean pearls only with lukewarm water. Never brush them in any way. You can then wipe it with a regular cotton cloth. The silk is delicate and gets stretched after a period of time. Always store bead necklaces (such as lapis, pearls, etc) flat as that will keep the silk from stretching. It could break when the strand is worn on a regular basis. You should have them checked, to see if they need to be re-strung, every 3 years if you wear them regularly.
Opals are water-based stones. Sudden temperature changes cause them to crack in multiples (known as Crazing). They
should thus be cleaned only in room temperature water (68°F – 75°F) and then wiped with a soft cotton cloth.
Emeralds, naturally coming out of the ground have several surface breaking inclusions in them. Almost all of them are
treated through oiling to hide these inclusions. They cannot be immersed in ultrasonic cleaners or steam machines for
this reason. The oiling will either discolor or come out during the cleaning process. Thus they can only be cleaned with
room temperature water (68°F – 75°F) and a cotton cloth.
Platinum is one of the rarest and most durable precious metals. It does not tarnish or get discolored from chlorine.
Even though it is very tough you still need to take good care of your platinum jewelry. Store it separately because
platinum can be scratched. Platinum can be cleaned in the same manner as other fine jewelry.
Your silver jewelry tarnishes when exposed to air. This occurs more quickly in damp and foggy weather and even sunshine, but is inevitable in any climate. Tarnish first appears as a golden hue on your sterling silver then turns to black. Always store in treated paper or cloth, or plastic zip lock bags made of Mylar (turkey cooking bags) or polyethylene. Some plastic contains sulfur compounds which can cause tarnish faster. Never use polyvinyl plastic bags. Tiny zip-lock bags work great for each individual piece. Don’t store sterling silver jewelry on wood surfaces as wood usually contains acids that can mar the finish. Also avoid storing silver with other metals like pennies and rubber. Don’t wear rubber gloves when washing or polishing silver because rubber promotes tarnish. Dry and polish silver with a soft cloth, not paper towels. You can use a baby tooth brush or a horsehair silver brush but stays away from paper, polyester and course fabrics that contain wood fibers as this can scratch your silver. Ordinary toothpaste is a good, quick cleaner but is mainly recommended for gold, not silver. If you don’t want to rub the silver (or you’re uncomfortable working with acid), make a dip using baking soda, aluminum foil and hot water. Place a 2′ length of aluminum foil into a plastic bucket, and pour 1/2 gallon of hot water over it. Then pour a cup of fresh baking soda into the water (if the soda is fresh, it will begin foaming). Submerge a piece of silver in the water, and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. Then pull out the silver, rinse it, and allow it to dry.
For a more of a heavy duty cleaner get a pickle jar and combine one inch of cleaning detergent (like Top Job or Mr. Clean), one inch of dish washing liquid and one inch of ammonia. Fill the rest of the container with water. Shake well, heat in microwave and pour into an old pot and simmer on stove. Put your silver or gold into the solution and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Remove from solution and rinse with water. Dry well.
Elizabeth Ann Scaling Tucker is a retired grandmother of 5. She retired after 35 1/2 years with the Department of Defense. In her retirement years, she is a grandchild sitter and an assistant webmaster for family websites. You can see one of the websites at [http://www.diamondengagementweddingrings.com/]