Simple Care Tips: Jewelry

We all likely should be cleaning our treasures more than we probably do. Jewelry, though meant to be worn, is delicate and ones daily routine can take its toll.

As a general rule, “It’s good practice to put your jewelry on last—after cosmetics, hair products, body sprays and perfume,” notes Mark Mann, the GIA’s senior director of global jewelry manufacturing arts. “You’ll protect the integrity and appearance of all gemstones and metal alloys and keep your pieces looking beautiful in the long run.”

Inevitably grime will build up so when it does follow these simple cleaning tips:

Diamonds, Rubies & Sapphires….

Return your non-porous gemstones to sparkly wonderfulness by soaking them in warm (almost hot) water for at least 30 minutes, with a bit of good old dishwashing soap. Stick to a basic detergent, one without moisturizers or anti-bacterial ingredients. If there’s a build-up of gunk, use a soft wooden toothpick to carefully lift heavy materials away from the back of the gems after soaking.You can also gently brush the jewelry with a soft toothbrush, working the bristles in, around, and under the gems. Rinse under warm running water and repeat until all the gunk is gone. Do not use abrasive cleaning products such as those with bleach and degreasers. These products will scratch precious metals and chlorine has the potential to attack base metals in gold alloys and weaken prongs.

Turquoise & Pearls…

Turquoise and other porous gemstones should be wiped with a soft cloth. They should never be soaked it in water as they may absorb the moisture, dulling their surface. Don’t use cleaning solutions on them and if there’s accidental contact with chemicals, immediately blot the gems dry with a cloth. When possible avoid getting sunscreen, make-up, perfume and body lotion on them. Pearls can occasionally be cleaned with mildly soapy water and a very soft brush. Rinse, blot and allow to dry lying flat on a towel so as not to stretch the string. Make sure strands are completely dry before wearing.

Silver

Contrary to popular belief soaking actually makes tarnish worse. Dishwashing soap is your friend, just mix a few drops with warm water, then dip a soft cloth in and use it to gently rub the jewelry; after rinse in cool water and blot until dry. For heavier tarnish, mix a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Wet the silver and apply the cleaner with a soft, lint-free cloth (not paper towels, which can scratch). Work the paste into the crevices, turning the cloth as it gets gray. Rinse and buff dry. I have also found non whitening toothpastes to be ‘silver friendly’.

Gold & Platinum 

Yep, you guessed it, dishwashing liquid and warm water. Let gold jewelry soak for about 10 -15 minutes, then get your soft toothbrush and give it a good scrub. Rinse your pieces off after with warm water and dry with a towel. Don’t swim or shower in your gold, chlorine causes discoloration and soap can leave an unattractive film on it.

I hope you will find these tips useful. If you have any questions or blog ideas please send me an email. I would be delighted to hear from you!

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest 

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Know Thy Silver

Silver is wonderful isn’t it? Nothing quite makes a festive meal like silverware. Even though some consider it high maintenance, it is so worth it when that beautiful shine comes through.

Silver hallmarking boasts the claim (at least in England) of being the oldest form of consumer protection. The regulation of the goldsmith craft (the term “goldsmith” was formally used without distinction for both goldsmiths and silversmiths) dates back to Medieval times.

As with anything valuable or collectible, fakes are found. It always pays to buy from either a reputable dealer and/or check the items with acid (which can be bought rather inexpensively and can be used for silver, gold and platinum). That said the penalty for faking hallmarks on any precious metal has been severe for centuries in most countries. After all gold and silver since ancient times are in essence the purest form of universal currency.  

Knowing and understanding hallmarks and makers marks is really important, both in determining value and age. Take a glance at the candlesticks in the picture, would you have guessed they were French, circa 1738 just from looking at them? Much like with furniture and jewelry, styles constantly come back into fashion or never fell out of fashion like a classic silver goblet. The value and rarity though can vary tremendously.

I was recently asked by a few people only days apart what resources I use to check silver, especially when at a market or fair, and that has been the inspiration for this blog. I personally come across a lot of English, Irish and Scottish silver so I carry a small book called English Silver Hallmarks by Judith Banister. A truly excellent book that is easy to use and can be purchased for about $8. I love silver from the British Isles because it is so specific in its markings, which usually includes a makers mark, silver standard mark, city mark and date mark.Those who need to check up other hallmarks such as American, German or French and/or have smart technology with them when they go picking, here is an excellent reference website: http://www.925-1000.com/Easy to use and with a truly global reach.

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Dylan of The Gryphon’s Nest