Jewellery, it’s a hugely popular accessory that has been adorning our bodies since the beginning of time. It first started with dried out reeds and animal teeth and developed into the ranges we know today. Everything from impressive replica costume jewellery to timeless luxury jewellery pieces and even jewellery designed for children.
Over your lifetime you are likely to build up a collection of jewellery. Some people will collect more than others and have entire rooms filled with glittering jewels, golden necklaces and opulent earrings. While others may prefer to stick to a wedding band and useful watch. If you are gifted pieces in celebration of birthdays and achievements, keeping your jewellery looking beautiful can become more challenging. Dedicated jewellery boxes are fantastic. They often have different sections to store different types of jewellery safely. If you don’t have a jewellery box or your jewellery is starting to tarnish, check out the below advice on how to keep your important pieces looking fantastic.
Protecting Soft Metals
Pure gold is a beautiful metal material; however it is very soft and in its purest form is unsuitable for jewellery making. Instead it must be mixed with alternative metals to form an alloy, strengthening the gold and making it more durable. This is where the term carat is garnered from. The number of carats denotes the percentage amount of gold in the mix in 24ths. Thus 24-carat gold is pure, 18 carats is 75% gold, 14 carats is 58.5% gold and the lowest commonly found, 9 carats is 37.5% gold.
This is also why it is recommended to wear gold engagement and wedding rings. Rings of the same carat prevent the higher carat ring scratching or marking the lower carat ring. When storing gold rings of varying carats, it’s recommended to wrap items individually in a soft, clean and dry cloth.
Also avoid keeping jewellery anywhere that undergoes temperature changes or in direct light. The same can be said for other soft metals. Although gold is one of the softest and most prone to marks. Especially when stored loosely with hard gemstones like diamond, which can very easily mark gold jewellery. It is recommended to wrap all types of jewellery. But remember that metals like platinum and silver are much more durable. Thus they are at less risk of being marked by other metals and gemstones.
For those of Muslim faith – it is important to know the value of any gold and silver in your possession as this will go towards the annual Zakat payment. Many Muslims choose to make this payment around the time of Ramadan, which will soon be here.
Cleaning Jewellery Metals and Gemstones
Warm water and a mild dish soap is the recommended method to cleaning jewellery of tarnishing or marks, . This alongside using a soft toothbrush or lint-free cloth to remove dirt trapped in intricate detailing. This is especially important for jewellery containing gemstones. And particularly for heirlooms or older pieces that may have had more time to dry out. Or that would have been repaired with an oil-based solution. If you were to use an alcohol-based solution you run the risk of damaging the gemstone. You can even cause it to splinter and crack. These solutions are usually offered by jewellery shops and should be avoided.
Ultrasonic cleaners are available for home use however, the method involves rapidly shaking the jewellery, often in a special solution. This can easily cause irreparable damage to old or heirloom pieces and should be avoided. Consider approaching a professional jeweller for advice on the safest method of cleaning or removing tarnish.
Pearls and organic materials should only be cleaned using a very soft bristle make-up brush that hasn’t been used before. This is due to the fragile surface which can easily be scratched with tougher materials. When you have cleaned your pearls, lay them flat somewhere out of direct light. Then leave them to dry without disturbing them. This is to prevent you from marking them, requiring another clean and preventing the silk thread from becoming stretched.
Some jewellery will require maintenance every year or every few years, depending on the amount of wear your piece gets. Pearls should be restrung yearly to prevent the thread stretching to its limit and potentially breaking. Similarly, white gold, which uses a rhodium plating should have the rhodium maintained. This is to prevent the colour darkening and the gold beneath tarnishing.
Jewellery can be expensive but often the sentiment behind the gift is what makes it important to us. It’s only natural that you’d want to look after and maintain your accessories. Should you have an old, damaged or important piece of jewellery that you want to be cleaned but are worried about damaging always seek the advice of a professional jeweller first who can advise home-cleaning methods or offer you a trusted cleaning service.