Properly caring for and storing your fine jewelry will help maintain its beauty and value. While some people are harder on their jewelry than others, everyone can benefit from these jewelry "rules" and common sense suggestions for jewelry care accumulated throughout my career in the jewelry business.
SEPARATE, SEPARATE, SEPARATE
The No.1 suggestion I can make is to separate each piece of jewelry from another. Diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth, and they can scratch all other gemstones, plus pearls, gold, and platinum. They can also scratch other diamonds. Do not throw your fine jewelry into a pile in a jewelry box. Not only is it frustrating to untangle chains from other jewelry, taking up valuable time when you're trying to get out the door, but it also frequently leads to serious damage.
REST IN SOFTNESS
It's best to store each piece in a soft place. That could be in a suede, felt, or velvet pouch, or in its original box. Divided, velvet-lined drawers in a custom closet are a great option, because you can see a number of pieces at one time without having to open individual bags. If you use a safe with shelves, there are lined, divided boxes with transparent tops available online or at The Container Store that are stackable and compact. Custom safes specifically outfitted for fine jewelry are the ultimate in luxury and practicality.
Remove your rings when you're working at home and place ringholders in a few logical spots, such as on the kitchen sink windowsill and on a nightstand. If you can get in the habit of always using a ringholder when cooking or washing dishes, you won't misplace your ring, nor will you grind it up in the garbage disposal. (I've seen such a ring. The mounting was destroyed but miraculously, the diamond did not chip.)
KEEP IT CLEAN, PLEASE
Lotion, sunscreen, soap, shampoo, hair products, and a myriad of other personal care items conspire against the beauty of our jewelry. Diamonds can look cloudy and lose their sparkle within one day of a professional cleaning. For pieces that are worn just occasionally, I recommending wiping them with a soft cloth after each wear, before they are stored. Put your jewelry on last, after clothes, makeup, hairspray, and perfume. A jeweler can completely revitalize your pieces with the correct method of polishing, cleaning, and the use of high pressure steam. To keep your jewelry looking its sparkling best between professional cleanings, follow these instructions.
GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM!
Another good habit is to put your jewelry on while standing or sitting in a carpeted area. That way, if a piece hits the floor, it has a much smaller risk of breaking or fracturing. The absolute worst place to put on your jewelry is in the bathroom over the sink. First, you can drop the jewelry into the sink and down the drain. If you miss the sink, it will fall even farther to the tile floor, which is as hard as concrete. Get out of the bathroom and into the bedroom when putting on your jewels.
I always tell newly engaged couples that even though a ring is comprised of metal and diamonds, it is not indestructible. Repeated gripping of hard metal objects can bend your ring out of shape, which may cause small pave'-set diamonds to start falling out of their settings right away. If you lift free weights at the gym, play golf, garden, or play field hockey while wearing your rings, you will bend and damage them. Leave them at home or in your locker when doing these activities. If you feel strange not wearing a wedding band, purchase a plain gold or platinum band without any diamonds as a substitute to wear when needed. This type of ring can be reshaped by a jeweler if it is bent out-of-round.
HOLD YOUR APPLAUSE
Believe it or not, you can damage rings by clapping your hands together. Eternity bands can emerge from a concert with chipped stones, damaged settings, or even missing gems. If you wear rings on both hands, consider leaving one behind before your head out to the big game or theatre. Repeatedly slamming two rings together as you applaud will damage them.
CHLORINE IS NOT A JEWELRY CLEANER
Nor is toothpaste, for that matter. One client told me she never needed to clean her rings, she just wore them while swimming laps ever day, and the pool kept them clean. That is true . . . chlorine can keep a diamond clean. But it also attacks gold and over time can pit the metal and damage prongs, letting your diamond slip into the water. You're better off not wearing your rings in the pool or hot tub.
AN ANNUAL CHECKUP
I met a woman years ago who came into the shop where I was working to have her rings cleaned and checked. She said she always did this the afternoon following her annual mammogram. What a smart woman she was! A jeweler will check for loose stones, prongs that may be worn away, or areas of wear on your jewelry that could become problems in the future if not repaired.
"Buy it, insure it, wear it, and enjoy it." A former colleague of mine gave this advice to women who never took their jewelry out of the safety deposit box because they were afraid to wear it. There are several types of jewelry insurance available for purchase. Most coverage is obtained through your renter's or homeowner's policy, where items can be individually scheduled or covered by a "blanket" with other luxury items. Talk with an insurance professional to learn about the different types of coverage, the advantages of each, and their cost. If you do not have renter's or homeowner's insurance, Jeweler's Mutual offers policies on individual pieces and can be easily researched online.