Jewelry is one of your most valuable and sentimental accessories. In order to keep your jewelry looking its best, it’s important to care for it properly. This will ensure that your treasured pieces will last for generations.
Each gemstone has unique characteristics that determine proper care. The most important determination is the hardness of the gemstone in question. Softer gemstones are going to need to be cleaned, stored, and worn with much more prudence.
This chart covers the hardness values for all the gemstones sold at Park City Jewelers. Any gemstone at a 7 or higher is considered very durable and suitable for everyday wear because it will resist surface scratches. Anything below a 7 should be treated with more delicate care. The softer the gemstone the more care that should be taken.
Understanding a little bit about gemstone hardness will help you get the most out of the rest of this guide.
Things to Avoid
Light and Heat
Light can cause many materials to fade with prolonged exposure and this is true for many gemstones as well. Amethyst, kunzite, and topaz have been known to fade due to such exposure, while ivory, elk ivory, and pearls can bleach when exposed to excessive light.
Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes can cause some gemstones to fracture or break. This is especially true of softer gemstones such as opal and pearls which can turn white or brown, develop cracks, or lose their luster and play-of-color.
Chemicals can damage sterling silver, gold, platinum, and gemstones. This is especially true for soft and more porous gemstones like pearls, turquoise, and opals. Everyday products such as lotion, perfume, and cosmetics often contain chemicals that can permanently damage these softer gemstones. These products should be applied before jewelry is worn.
Jewelry should always be removed before swimming in a chlorinated pool, hot tub, or when using household cleaning products such as turpentine, acetone, denatured alcohol, and ammonia. Chlorine bleach in particular is known to damage gold alloys causing them to pit.
It’s also important to choose the right-hand sanitizer so that it won’t damage your jewelry. Hand sanitizer comes in two varieties: alcohol-based and non-alcohol-based. Alcohol-based is safe for use with jewelry, while nonalcohol-based is not.
Ultrasonic cleaners are used by jewelry professionals to help clean jewelry. Because they can be found for $150 or less some customers wonder if they should purchase one to clean their jewelry. The short answer is no.
Ultrasonic cleaners use high-frequency sound waves transmitted through liquid to scrub surfaces clean. They are so powerful that they can cause permanent damage to your jewelry and even cause gemstones and diamonds to shake loose from settings.
These cleaners can also damage gemstones that have been heat-treated, gemstones that are susceptible to heat and temperature changes, soft gemstones, or gemstones that are oil or resin-filled. Only a trusted jeweler with experience cleaning jewelry with an ultrasonic cleaner should attempt to clean jewelry using this method.
Safe Methods of Cleaning
Along with our cleaning solution, we have a Park City Jewelers cleaning cloth available that is a powerful tool to help clean your jewelry. The outside purple layers are soft microfiber while the inside white layers are impregnated with a cleansing agent and special micro-abrasives to help remove tarnish and grime. These are available for $5 and will help return your jewelry to a brilliant shine.
When cleaning soft gemstones such as pearls it is best to use a new clean makeup brush with warm soapy water. After cleaning allow these gemstones to air dry naturally. Be especially careful with strands of pearls as the silk or nylon thread can stretch more quickly and easily when wet. Give them ample time to dry completely.
Jewelry should be stored with care to avoid damage and unnecessary exposure to the elements. Before storing your jewelry make sure to gently wipe off any excess skin oils, makeup, or lotion that might have transferred to the surfaces.
It is important to store your jewelry in a location free of excessive moisture. In or near bathrooms, kitchens, or windows should be avoided.
To reduce the rate of tarnishing it is best to store your jewelry wrapped in tissue paper and sealed in a zip lock bag.
Have Your Jewelry Checked Regularly
The last step to proper jewelry care is to have it checked regularly by a reputable jeweler. Everyday wear pieces such as wedding and engagement rings should be checked at least every 12 months.
During the inspection, the jeweler will make sure that the prongs that secure diamonds and gemstones are secure and not showing signs of wear.
This is also a good time to have your jewelry professionally cleaned. We offer this service for free (as well as the inspection) and it includes an ultrasonic bath (if appropriate) and steam clean. The inspection and cleaning usually take around 15 minutes and are completed while you wait.
Proper jewelry care is an important part of owning and maintaining fine jewelry. If you have any questions about caring for your jewelry don’t hesitate to reach out or stop by the store. Our team of jewelry experts, master goldsmiths, and experienced jewelers are ready and available to help in any way they can.
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