Our Jewellery collection is often one of our most treasured and sentimental possessions, so check out our guide to giving it the care it deserves. Learn about the properties of precious metals including gold, platinum and silver and how to store, clean and maintain their shine. We explain how to clean your coloured gemstone and diamond jewellery at home with our easy guide. Learn about the use of ultrasonic cleaners, what they can clean, and what gemstones should be cleaned by hand. We also discuss the best methods of storage and care for your coloured gemstone and diamond jewellery, to include rings, necklaces, earings and bracelets.
Precious Metal Care
Any precious metal, whether it is silver, gold, platinum or palladium, needs adequate care to ensure it stays in a good, wearable condition. Precious metals are not immune from tarnishing, corrosion, discolouration and damage, but with the right care jewellery can last for centuries.
With any gold, the higher the carat, the softer it is. Therefore, the higher carat golds are more susceptible to scratches and wear. It is recommended to purchase ‘everyday’ gold jewellery of the same carat, so that they wear evenly over the course of time. Gold pieces can also be polished sparingly to refresh the jewellery.
White gold is a mixture of gold and white metal alloys such as silver and palladium. It is industry practice to rhodium plate white gold to give a bright white lustre. Over the years, this coating can wear. However, a quick recoating of white gold jewellery can make the metal appear as good as new!
Platinum & Palladium
Platinum and palladium are metals from the same family. They share the same hardwearing and hypoallergenic properties. Platinum and palladium can be cleaned using a soft bristled brush and a soapy water solution. Platinum and palladium can develop what’s known as a ‘patina’ over the course of time. A quick polish can remove this patina effect and restore stunning shine of the metal.
Sterling Silver is prone to natural tarnishing caused by oxygen and moisture reacting with the metal. This tarnishing is easily treated by polishing with a cloth. However, storing silver in sealed plastic bags when it is not worn is a good way to reduce the exposure to tarnishing elements.
Wear Your Jewellery with Care
Of course, our jewellery is designed to be worn and enjoyed, but a bit of care whilst wearing your precious pieces can ensure that it lasts for years to come.
If possible, avoid wearing jewellery whilst partaking in any strenuous activities, such as gardening, DIY, housework or exercise. Any knocks on hard surfaces may cause damage to the jewellery, particularly to brittle gemstones such as tanzanite, emerald, iolite and fluorite. However, any gemstone that is hit hard enough will crack – so it is wise to avoid any potential knocks or blows to your valuable jewellery.
As well as this, keep your jewellery away from potentially abrasive and tarnishing substances! Some everyday chemicals can discolour and damage precious metals, so it is advisory to take jewellery off when going swimming or using a hot tub, or when using cleaning or beauty products.
If your jewellery is set with a gemstone it will need additional care to ensure that it retains the sparkle and shine for as long as possible.
Gemstones vary in hardness and stability and can be affected by heat, light, chemicals and hard knocks to varying degrees. Gemstones that are higher up on the Mohs’ scale of hardness such as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, topaz and quartz tend to be more hardwearing and so are suitable for daily wear.
However, gemstones that are softer in nature and need of extra care when worn include opal, amber, tanzanite, fluorite, pearl and emerald. As a general guide, we would recommend the following precautions for protecting your gemstone jewellery:
- Avoid direct sunlight for gemstones, as prolonged exposure to UV rays can discolour and fade gemstones such as amber, fluorite, quartz, topaz and zircon.
- Avoid contact with perfumes, hair spray, and beauty products. Some gemstones will react with the chemicals in these products and abrade, others will lose their sparkle as a layer of product blocks light from entering and leaving the stone.
- Avoid exposure to high temperatures. Most gemstones were formed under high temperature and high pressure conditions deep underground. Therefore, exposure to further high temperature can alter and damage the crystal structure. Amber can melt under high temperatures, pearls can craze and gemstones like quartz can change colour. Therefore, to keep your gemstones looking pristine, avoid contact with extreme heat where possible.
- Porous gemstones like opal, pearl and turquoise should not be submerged in water. Definitely avoid wearing these gemstones whilst swimming!
Cleaning Gem Set Jewellery
Regular cleaning of gemstones ensures that the jewellery stays looking at its best: the colours are seen more vividly, the lustre is enhanced and the condition is preserved. However, as explained above, different gemstones have drastically different physical properties that dictate how they should be handled. Therefore, we have compiled a quick guide to cleaning your coloured gemstones:
Soak in a solution of dishwasher liquid and warm water. Then, scrub gently with a soft bristled toothbrush, paying particular attention to the reverse of settings to remove built up dirt. Dry with a lint free cloth.
Clean using water and cotton wool, dry with a soft cloth.
Mother of Pearl
Clean using lukewarm water and dry with a soft cloth.
Organic materials, Amber, Whitby Jet, Ivory, Coral
Clean by wiping with a damp or dry cloth only.
Composite gem materials
Ultrasonic machines are a popular method of cleaning diamond and gem set jewellery. These machines work by immersing jewellery in water, vibrations are then sent through the water to shake off any dirt. Ultrasonic machines are highly effective cleaners, but they can cause irreversible damage to certain gemstones. We would advise using ultrasonic machines with caution, and here is our list of gemstones and jewellery to avoid, and those to use caution with.
Do not place these gemstones in an ultrasonic cleaner:
- Any antique jewellery
- Composite gem materials such as opal doublets and triplets, garnet topped doublets.
- Foil backed settings
- Heavily included gemstones
- Lapis Lazuli
- Organic materials: Amber, Whitby Jet, Ivory, Coral etc.
- Treated diamonds: fracture filled or laser drilled diamonds
- Treated gemstones
Use Caution when putting these gems in an ultrasonic cleaner:
- Quartz – Amethyst, Citrine, Smoky quartz, Ametrine
A jewellery box with individual compartments is the best method for storing jewellery. Keeping items of jewellery separate prevents any scratches or damage from items knocking against one another. It also prevents chains from tangling, and pairs of earrings becoming separated.
Any jewellery that is set with opals needs special care when storing. Opals consist of anywhere between 3 and 21% water in their structure. Incorrect storage of these beautiful gemstones can cause them to ‘dehydrate’ and crack. Therefore, it is recommended that opal pieces are stored with moist cotton balls to avoid drying out.
Get Jewellery Regularly Checked
Monitor your jewellery settings over the years, make note of if you notice any part of the piece thinning, wearing or discolouring. The sooner these condition flaws are noted the sooner they can be rectified.
We would recommend getting your diamond and coloured gemstone jewellery checked annually. In store, our jewellery specialists will be able to assess the jewellery for any wear and tear or damage that can be fixed in our Derbyshire workshop. It is better to be safe than sorry with jewellery, particularly if it is set with gemstones, and so having a professional check claws, settings and surrounding gemstones is a wise move.
Insure your Jewellery
We offer insurance plans through jewellery insurers T.H. March to cover accidental loss, damage and theft to give you a peace of mind. Our plans are easy to set up, and have a fantastic range of benefits:
- We offer 1 year or 3 year insurance up to a maximum value of £5,000 and a maximum £10,000 total value of any one household. This protects you against accidental loss, damage and theft!
- There is no excess to pay and all claims are settled in full up to the sum insured.
- We will repair or replace any damaged or lost items.
- You always have a 14 day ‘cooling off’ period during which insurance can be cancelled in full.
- You are covered anywhere in the UK and up to 30 consecutive days worldwide, so if you damage or lose your jewellery during a holiday you are covered.
- There is only one simple claim form to fill out in the event of a loss occurring.
- Your jewellery is covered as soon as you receive your insurance certificate.