Let’s face it, jewellery is meant to be worn – to be shown off. We want to wear it, we want people to admire it and we want it to last forever. Well, nothing lasts forever but with a few simple tips, you can keep your jewellery at its best for many decades to come. Follow my 5 top tips below, and you will have the best looking, longest lasting jewellery you could wish for….
Are you ready? Let’s do this!
1/ Keep It Clean
Clean jewellery sparkles – it’s that simple. Oils, lotions, sweat, dust, skin cells, day to day grime…it all just clogs together and clings to jewellery. You clean your clothes, you clean yourself, don’t forget your jewellery.
If your jewellery is clean, it is also so much easier to see if there is anything wrong with it. Built up grime under gemstones can prevent you from noticing a stone is loose, increasing risk of loss. You may not notice wear and tear, or damage to a chain for example, if it is dull and dirty. A crack in a claw will be very clearly visible on a clean shiny ring, giving you time to have it repaired before losing a diamond.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you are cleaning your jewellery when you wash your hands. You need hot water to dissolve the grease and oils from you jewellery – hotter than you could possibly wash your hands in. To clean your jewellery at home, a soak in hot water with a little squirt of a grease-busting dish detergent will usually do the trick. Then, just pat dry with a tissue, don’t rub. Don’t use this method for pearls, amber, opal, natural emerald or turquoise though. To polish plain bands and chains, a good quality jewellery polishing cloth is great when used after cleaning. Oh, and don’t ever (EVER!) use toothpaste to clean your jewellery.
See my article on Cleaning Your Diamond Jewellery, for step-by-step guide to cleaning your jewellery at home.
2/ Take It Off
Yes, I know, you want to keep it on all the time. But it’s really doing your jewellery an injustice leaving it on constantly. Jewellery is not made to be worn 24/7…it’s just not. It may be made of metal, but as far as metals go, gold and silver are considered quite soft metals. Many people think that wearing gloves while gardening will protect their jewellery when in fact, it does more damage. Heavy fabric rubbing on the finest part of rings, like the claws, wears it down. If you ride a motorbike, wearing leather gloves over you rings is one of the worst things you can do. Leather, canvas, any heavy material is abrasive on your jewellery. If you are doing something where you have to wear gloves, you need to take your rings off – no questions, end of story.
The gym is another big one that is a killer for your jewellery. Metal weights, and equipment handles can cause a lot of damage to rings. Sweaty fingers are slippery fingers, and rings can also be easily lost at the gym. Leave them at home.
What about around the house? Sleeping, showering, washing up? Simple answer – take it off. Sleeping in chains can cause damage. We toss and turn, the chain gets all bent up. It may not break immediately, but it gets weakened, leading to a shorter lifespan and higher risk of breakage and loss. Earrings can also get bent and weakened in our sleep, and are also often lost, as butterflies or clips come loose unnoticed.
We are only human, and we need to be honest here. We also tend to sweat more while we sleep, and we shed more skin cells.
Think your jewellery will get clean in the shower with you? Nope. The heat of the water we can physically tolerate in the shower is not enough to dissolve the oily grime on your jewellery. Showering in your jewellery just adds soap to the gunky build-up. Rings get soapy and slippery, chains and earrings can get caught up in your shower-pouffe and guess where they go if they fall off? Right down the drain. Trust me, it happens.
3/ Have It Professionally Checked
Regular checking of your jewellery by a qualified jeweller is essential for its longevity. I recommend twice a year. Most jewellers will give your jewellery a good clean and polish, and perform a full check-over for free, or a minimal charge. He or she will check for any structural or surface damage, make sure that your gemstones are secure and let you know if there are any significant issues that need to be addressed. Seeing your jeweller for these checks every six months means that if there is any damage, you have plenty of warning and time to have it fixed. I often see jewellery with just a little wearing of claws, for example, and I am able to let my customer know that it will need work in the near future, or on the next visit. For a reputable jeweller, this service is not about finding something to charge you for, it’s about building a relationship so that when repair work is required, it is done well before a gemstones is lost, or your item is past the point of being repairable. If you are taking your jewellery to a retail store, ensure that it goes to the jeweller (the person behind the bench) for checking and cleaning. Ask the staff who it is that will actually be doing your check-up. While there are a lot of very capable and well-trained sales staff out there, there are also many who are only there for selling and have little or no technical knowledge or training. If you do have to pay a few bucks for it, it will be money well spent.
4/ Store It Properly
Correct storage of jewellery is so important when it comes to keeping it in great condition. If your jewellery is all jumbled up together in one box, bag or drawer, you need to sort it out…now! You’re not only damaging your jewellery, you are actually also less likely to wear jewellery that you have to fish out of a big tangled mess. What a waste, right? Seriously though, you don’t want your jewellery knocking around together, it’s like doubling the wear. Earrings get separated and lost, and don’t even get me started about tangled chains. Your jewellery is precious, and often expensive, so you need to treat it with care, even (and probably more importantly) when you are not wearing it.
So, what can you do? What you need to keep in mind, is that it is best to keep your jewellery separated. You have lots of options here. There are a gazillion versions of drawer organisers and dividers out there, some specifically designed for jewellery. Find one with small individual compartments, and keep each piece of jewellery in its own little space. You can thread your chains through drinking straws to keep them from tangling, and your stud earrings can be stored safely, and together, with a plain old button. Just pop the studs through the holes in pairs. This is great for travelling too. No more digging around in the bottom of your bag for that lost stud.
Buy a nice jewellery box. Most of us had one of those musical jewellery boxes when we were kids (you know, the one with the twirling ballerina inside?) so why not get one now we’re all grown up and our jewellery is real? You are sure to be able to find something to match your decor and these will often have designated spaces for rings and earrings, as well as felt-lined compartments and drawers for other items.
If you’re a bit artsy-fartsy, you could probably even make something yourself. Secure mesh or flyscreen inside an old picture frame to hang your earrings on. Add a row of small cuphooks to the underside of a wooden coat hanger to hang chains and necklaces. You can really go to town with this and make it a real feature in your room or wardrobe. There are endless ideas, too many to go into here, but do a Google or Pinterest search for Homemade Jewellery Organiser and you will be overwhelmed with the results.
5/ Choose Wisely, Wear Appropriately
For me, as a jeweller, this is a big one. By far, the most common reason that jewellery comes to me damaged is that it has not been worn appropriately. A really delicate, fine chain for example, is not suitable to use with a heavy pendant. Some chains are not suitable to wear with pendants at all. If you plan to buy a chain to hang a pendant from, and you are going to a real store, take the pendant with you so that your jeweller can advise you correctly. If you are buying online, send an email enquiry first.
Rings should be worn alone – one per finger – unless they are specifically designed to fit together. A straight wedding band rubbing against the side of an unmatched engagement ring will just wear it away. Quite often this results in irreparable damage to the underside of the setting. If more than one ring is worn on the same finger, they need to sit flush against each other, so they do not cause damage to each other.
When choosing and wearing jewellery, think about the strength and structure of the item in relation to how and when you might wear it. A delicate, light-weight ring is obviously not suited to everyday wear. Consider your activities for your day, and how they may put stress on your jewellery.
Solid rings, with bezel settings will withstand much more wear and tear than light, claw-set rings. Plain wedding rings are pretty tough. Those with satin finishes, or intricate patterns are more fragile and will damage more easily and wear quicker.
It’s that simple…
If you keep these five simple things in mind when purchasing, wearing, and storing your jewellery, you will be sure to keep it looking its very best.
Don’t forget to check out my step-by-step instructions on how to keep your diamond jewellery clean and sparkly at home.
If you have any comments or questions relating to cleaning or maintaining your jewellery, or if you would like to come and see me in the studio for a jewellery clean and check-up, please contact me using my online contact form or via Facebook or Instagram.