Pearls & Delicate Jewelry Care

Pearls

Pearls are soft, living fossils, and much more delicate than diamonds and gemstones. They are easily subject to damage from contact with stones with rough edges. For example, for small pearl pieces, such as pearl rings, do not make the mistake of throwing them into the same dish sitting by your nightstand where you place your diamond wedding band and watch. Instead, protect all your pearls by storing them separately in natural breathing fibers such as silk or cotton pouches. You can buy these pouches from a jeweler or retailer.

Also remember that pearls are vulnerable to chemicals and other substances. Just as chlorine does damage to hair, chlorine bleach can discolor pearls and other soft porous stones like opals—as well as pit gold settings. Perfume, oils and lotions can also discolor pearls. This does not include natural body oils, which help pearls keep their luster. Always apply hairspray and perfume before you put on your pearls and jewelry. Avoid applying too much lotion where the pearls touch the back of your neck. After each wearing, make sure you wipe off your pearls with a soft clean cloth or wash them with mild soap and water.

Finally, if you wear your pearls frequently, restring them every two to three years. This prevents pearl strings from becoming stretched, weakened or soiled.

Diamonds and other precious stones

You’ve probably heard that diamonds are indestructible. Indeed, they are the hardest natural substance, but a hard blow could still chip the stone. On the other hand, diamonds can chip other softer pieces like pearls and opals, and thus, each piece should be stored separately.

The majority of insurance claims involve the “mysterious disappearance” of diamonds and other stones. This can happen easily when you neglect to check the integrity of the prongs. Putting that task off until later is not good enough.

Ask your jeweler to check your jewelry periodically to make sure the clasps and prongs are secure. Remember, jewelry worn frequently should be checked frequently—and the more you wear a piece, the more regularly you should have it checked by a jeweler. Rule of thumb: ask your jeweler to check your setting every six months.

Between those visits and on a regular basis, you can do a less formal inspection. Remove all bracelets, watches and other pieces from your hands and wrists, hold the stone up to your ear, and shake it. If it is loose, you will hear it moving. Bottom line: Whenever you think that your stone is loose, get it fixed.

Watches

Replace broken or scratched crystals immediately. Even hairline cracks can let dust or moisture into the mechanism, threatening its accuracy. Check your watch clasp periodically to prevent accidental loss.

Read more helpful tips on jewelry care.

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