General Care and Maintenance

Jewellery should be the last thing you put on in the morning and the first thing you take off at the end of the day. The chemicals in makeup, lotions, hair products and perfumes can be harmful to your jewellery. Chlorine and related chemicals in cleaning products (for example alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia) can severely discolour and dull or pit the surface on softer gemstones as well as loose stones and settings. Petroleum-based products (even Vaseline) can melt amber if allowed to remain on the stone and can do significant damage to pearls.

Many of my customers ask me if it is ok to wear jewellery in water, in particular, the shower or at the beach. The bottom line is: don’t. If I had a dollar for every time one of my customers told me a story about jewellery lost at the beach, I’d be wealthy beyond my dreams. Saltwater can discolour and darken jewellery. Water will get into strings and cords and rot them over time. Wooden jewellery will swell and then shrink again, but never return to its original shape. Avoid even getting your jewellery wet, and that includes exercising, bathing, and washing dishes.

Don’t fold, spindle or mutilate your jewellery, then expect it to look good when you put it back on. Believe it or not, golf is particularly hard on bracelets, watches and rings, because of the force used to swing a club – and the same goes for tennis. Be sensible about the activities you engage in when wearing jewellery – extreme sports and jewellery do not mix well. Neither do some careers. You will never see a chef or helicopter pilot wearing jewellery on the job. Think about it.

There is nothing worse than losing a special piece of jewellery. Long curly hair can wind around earrings and literally push them out of your ears, so always make sure that your earring hooks are tight to the back of your earlobes. Tighten the back of butterfly backs occasionally with your fingertips so that they fit snuggly over the posts (and if you do lose one earring, consider turning the remaining one into a pendant). Examine your jewellery on a regular basis for signs of cord stretching or fraying – as a general rule, necklaces and bracelets should be restrung every three to five years – and test clasps and hooks every to make sure they are still working properly. And once again – don’t wear your jewellery to the beach!

Rigid, hammered or beaten jewellery has reasonable flexibility and can take a certain amount of shaping to fit your arm or neck, even after it leaves the jeweller’s hands. However, any such modification should be done carefully using two hands and a constant even pressure. If not, the piece will bend unevenly at one point, leaving an irregular and unsightly bulge that may be impossible to remove. If in doubt, consult a professional for advice. Constant opening and closing of a rigid bracelet or neckpiece can also result in stress that may cause your piece to snap in the future. Set your piece of jewellery to the smallest size that you can comfortably put on and take off, then leave it like that.

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