Guide to Jewelry Care and Repair by Jaxon Toh - HTML preview

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Chapter 2. Jewelry Care – Cleaning Tips

Fine jewelry can very easily become tarnished, dirty and dull. To keep your favorite pieces shiny, sparkling and new, proper jewelry care is the key. The wrong method of cleaning can also cause permanent damage to your jewelry! Please consider the following recommendations to ensuring a long and beautiful life for your jewelry. This list is not all inclusive and only provides warnings for some of the most common mistakes in cleaning jewelry.

00082.jpgGeneral Cleaning

1. Before you start cleaning jewelry always do a quick visual check to see if there are any loose or damaged gemstones; cracked or broken metal; bent or warped prongs/tips; discolored or pitting metal. You wouldn’t want to cause any further damage.

2. Jewelry should be removed before showering or cleaning. A film can form if the soap is not washed off completely. This film will then become a magnet for dirt, dust and other contaminants.

3. Use a nub free, 100% cotton cloth and gently wipe the piece clean using only the soft pads of your fingers.

4. You can also purchase jeweler's cloths from jewelry stores. Be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use will now leave scrapes and pits in the piece you are trying to clean and polish.

5. Commercial cleaners can be purchased at jewelry stores. Always remember to read the instructions on the commercial cleaners first before you attempt cleaning.

6. Never clean your jewelry in bleach! Doing this will literally breakdown your jewelry. Bleach as an oxidizing agent that will react to the metal, causing it to become very brittle. Similarly, avoid swimming pools and bathing in hot tubs as chlorine products are added to prevent bacteria growth.

7. Besides chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia are harmful too. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones.

8. For best results, polish silver or gold with a jewelry polishing cloth. Use of tissue or paper towels can cause scratches because of the fibers in these products.

9. An old toothbrush is very handy. Make sure that you use an old, soft bristle brush. Lightly brush at hard to reach areas while frequently applying cleaning solution.

10. Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. Some websites recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. The abrasives in toothpaste can damage the surface of the metal. Toothpaste will also abrade the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones.

11. An ultrasonic vibrating cleaner may be appropriate for some jewelry, but always read the instructions first. Ultrasonic vibrating machines can loosen or damage precious gemstones while cleaning the jewelry. And the chemicals are not recommended for pearls and many other fine stones. Also never ultrasonic different metals at the same time, silver can tarnish gold if cleaned together.

12. Be careful when cleaning costume or vermeil jewelry, as it's very sensitive to any cleaning solutions. Costume or vermeil jewelry is a base metal with another layer of more precious metal (e.g. Gold) plated over or absorbed into it. This layer is not made for abrasive cleaning.

13. Always use warm not HOT water. Cleaning agents can be absorbed and react to very hot water causing jewelry to discolor. Sterling silver is especially sensitive to hot water and can discolor in a heartbeat.

14. Be very careful when using any soaking method to clean jewelry that has soft stones such as amber, lapis lazuli, or turquoise. Extended soaking in any solution may harm the polish on the stone and cause it to discolor.