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JEWELRY CARE AND CLEANING
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ORDINARY CARE AND CLEANING FOR YOUR FINE AND COSTUME JEWELRY

TURQUOISE AND CULTURED PEARLS
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When I was selling fine jewelry, I saw many tragic results of the public’s general lack of information or misinformation on jewelry care. It was scary! I had to be trained, but I also did extensive research to be able to give my customers the best information available. I’d like to pass this information on to you, my “cyber” customers.

PRECIOUS METALS:

GOLD:

Try to keep your gold jewelry in separate trays or pouches so it will not be scratched.

Clean with mild jewelry cleaner (some exceptions will be noted later), and polish with a polishing cloth. A simple solution of dishwashing detergent will do if you don’t have jewelry cleaner handy. This will remove body oils and (yech!) dead skin cells.

 

SILVER:

Silver doesn't like chlorine! Be sure to remove your sterling or fine silver jewelry before household cleaning with bleach or other chemicals, and always remove before swimming!

I’ve had customers fling heavy sterling curb-chains at me with the remark,” I want my money back! This isn’t sterling silver, it’s turned dark!” I even had one woman pitch a fit at the counter because her very expensive sterling silver necklace came apart in the back. Folks, this was beyond corrunculated! She had had her hair chemically treated and the chemicals had actually eaten through some of the links near the clasp and worse! It was so nastified it was beyond salvageable!

Silver is actually very simple to care for. Clean often in a mild solution of warm water and dishwashing detergent, dry, and polish with a polishing cloth. The dishwater will remove body oils and dirt; the polishing cloth will remove tarnish.

 NEVER:

Clean your silver jewelry (or anything else that’s silver) in that “dipping” solution, and we all know what that is! This leaves a film on the silver, which cannot be removed except by refinishing the piece! Trust me, it’s true! No matter how dirty your piece is, it’s better to apply a little more effort than to have the finish ruined!

Use paste silver polish on jewelry with stones. The silver polish may damage some gemstones.

 GOLD FILLED, STERLING SILVER AND GOLD PLATED JEWELRY:

 All of the above applies to these forms of jewelry metals. Gold filled jewelry will last a lifetime if treated properly. It can be cleaned with a mild solution of water and dishwashing detergent, dried, and then polished with a jeweler’s cloth. Plated metals should be wiped gently with a damp cloth and then very gently wiped with the polishing cloth.

NEVER:

Use hairspray or cologne while wearing plated metal jewelry. Apply the products first and then put on your “jools”!

I frequently use good gold or silver plated wire in my jewelry designs, depending on the item. It keeps the price of the item down and can look just as beautiful. It will need the extra care I have discussed here.

PRECIOUS AND SEMI PRECIOUS GEMSTONES:

 There is a measure of hardness for gemstones. It’s called the Moh’s Scale. It tells, on a scale from one to ten, with 10 being the hardest, how hard a stone is. Diamond is the hardest, and is therefore, a 10 on the Moh’s scale. They are also non porous.

The next in hardness, or a 9 on the scale, would be corundum. This is also known as ruby, if red corundum, or sapphire, if any other color except red. These are the next in hardness to a diamond.

Numbers 9 and 10 maybe cleaned in jewelry cleaning solution, you know, the stuff in the plastic jar with the little brush and the dipping tray. NOT the “other” dipping solution! they may also be cleaned in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaning machine. It is not recommended that you clean any gemstones under a 9 on the Moh's scale in an ultrasonic machine!

DIAMONDS, RUBIES, SAPHIRES!

About the only thing I can say here is to keep your diamond, sapphire, and ruby jewelry in pouches or in separate trays. Why? They could easily scratch the gold, silver, or less hardy gemstones! Easy! I don’t recommend using ultra-sonic cleaning machines on any fine jewelry. If you’re taking good care of it, you won’t need it. That treatment can also loosen the prong settings of your gemstones!

Most rubies and sapphires on the market today are heat-treated or irradiated to enhance the color. This is not the same as being dyed.

Some diamonds are treated with lasers. This is to make the occlusions invisible to the naked eye. It does NOT raise the value of the diamond! The occlusion is still there; you just don’t notice it! Be sure to ask your diamond salesperson if the stone was thus treated! They have to tell you.

Every six months or a LEAST once a year, have the prong settings on your diamond jewelry checked. If they have become loose, have them tightened!

CARING FOR TREATED GEMSTONES

Some gemstones that have been treated in some way may need special care. I’ll try to keep it simple:

TANZENITE: ALL tanzanite is heat-treated. Before the treatment, tanzanite is known as zoisite and is usually green. The color of the tanzanite depends on how hot and how long the stone remains in the oven. Tanzanite is very sensitive to sunlight, long periods of time in halogen lighting, and ultra violet light. IT WILL FADE, folks! So, don’t wear your tanzanite jools on vacation to the beach!

BLUE TOPAZ: All blue topaz is treated. That’s how it gets to be blue! Before treating, it is clear. Blue topaz is also sensitive to everything that tanzanite is. Keep it away from long periods in the sunlight!

OPALS:

These can be tricky. When you buy opals or opal jewelry, be sure to ascertain whether or not they are whole, doublets, or triplets. Don’t be afraid to ask! By law, the tag on the items should say “doublet” or “triplet” if they are. Without tags, one must ask.

A whole opal is just that, WHOLE, or solid all the way through. A doublet is a slice of opal on top and something shiny glued to it on the bottom. A triplet is a thin slice of opal sandwiched between the something shiny and something clear, like crystal or even glass!

Pretty to look at but…! 

Opals have a bad reputation for cracking and breaking. They will generally behave if treated well. Never allow them to become dried out. Opals have minute amounts of water in them naturally. It’s ok to soak them occasionally in a dish of distilled water. Storing them with moist cotton is also recommended.

Never use any kind of cleaning solution on them. They are porous!

Don’t polish them with oil! This is a big controversy in the jool world. All jewelers will admit that continuous polishing with oil will dull the stone. Remember, they are POROUS!

 

EMERALDS:

Yummy! I love emeralds! They are supposed to have occlusions, little tiny hairline fractures and little black spots. If an emerald is totally eye-clean and loupe clean, it’s probably a fake or beyond the Almighty’s financial reach!

Emeralds are sometimes color treated. They generally do not fade in the sun. Sometimes, the little fractures are filled with water or oil to make them less noticeable and to strengthen the stone. This does de-value the stone somewhat. Be sure to ask. Emeralds and rubies can also come as doublets. If you suspect such, don’t buy it!!

Emerald is the mineral beryl with chromium in it. That’s what makes it green. Without the chromium, beryl is called aquamarine. Yep, emerald and aquamarine are the same mineral, plus or minus the chromium. Aquamarines may also color treated and CAN be sensitive to long periods in sunlight. They may fade.

 I would not suggest using a cleaning solution on anything below a 7 on the Moh’s scale. These stones are generally porous.

Bear all of this in mind as you buy your jools! For instance, how would you care for an opal and diamond ring? Can be tricky! Just use your common sense.

A VERY mild solution of dishwater will clean it. Rinse well, dry and put away!

PEARLS:

Beautiful pearls! These are some of my favorites too. If you have genuine or cultured pearls, they are relatively easy to care for. Wipe them with a damp cloth, dry, then wipe gently with a soft cloth. Don’t put your pearl jewelry on until you have finished applying fragrance or hairspray. About every three years, have them restrung.

If you have faux pearls, and some of these can be VERY nice, treat them the same way you would treat genuine pearls. 

I will be happy to answer any question on jewelry care and cleaning that you may have. Feel free to email me here! 

 

 

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