Care for your jewelry
Exposure to certain chemicals can damage or discolor precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum, and may harm some colored gems. Even everyday substances like hairspray, lotion, perfume or other cosmetics may contain chemicals that will permanently damage the surface of your pearls and other delicate or porous gems (like turquoise), so spritz fragrance before putting on your gems, and be sure to clean them frequently with a soft cloth. Fine jewelry should be removed before diving into a chlorinated swimming pool or before using household cleaners. Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also fracture some gems, and heat can easily remove the natural moisture these gems need to keep their beauty. Pearls, for instance, can dry out, crack and discolor. Opals can turn white or brown, develop tiny cracks, and might lose their play-of-color. Be sure to store jewelry pouches when you take it off and tuck it away.
Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft brush. A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint-free cloth can also be used. Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a glass of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones - or even an entire piece of jewelry - if you rinse directly in the sink. However soft gems, such as pearls, can easily scratch. Use a new, clean makeup brush and warm, soapy water to softly clean them. Lay a strand of pearls on a towel to dry. The wet silk thread can stretch - and attract dirt - so don't touch your strand until it is completely dry. Pearls worn often should be restrung once a year.
Clean your sterling silver jewelry with a soft 100% cotton (nub free) cloth or flannel cloth and gently rub off any excess makeup. Remember, silver is a very soft metal and you can scratch it if you aren't careful so don't rub it too briskly. Never use anything but a clean 100% cotton or a special sterling silver cleaning cloth (a popular choice is Sunshine Polishing Cloth) or very soft bristle brush, like a baby's tooth brush or a horsehair silver brush. Paper, polyester, and coarse fabrics often contain wood fibers or synthetics that can cause tiny scratches in the surface of your fine sterling silver jewelry. Dirt left over from previous cleanings can scratch the surface as well.
We recommend that you don't use silver dips for removing oxidation from your silver jewelry as it will leave microscopic pits causing it to darken faster. Instead, focus on preventative care by storing your jewelry in a closed box or plastic baggy as silver will tarnish when exposed to air.
Gold doesn't tarnish, but it can be dirtied or dulled by the oils in your skin, body lotion, makeup, or other substances. There are lots of products that promise to clean gold, but you can do it easily with mild detergent and a soft cloth.
Mix a drop of mild dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. Put the gold item into the soap mixture and let sit for a few minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the jewelry. Remove item from soapy water, rinse it and dry thoroughly with a soft polishing cloth.
Pearls are very soft and require special care and attention. Never store your pearls open in a jewelry box next to other jewelry, as the box and pieces can damage the pearls by scratching and nicking. Instead, keep your pearl in a fabric lined box or fabric pouch.
If worn regularly pearls should be wiped down with a soft cloth after each wear. A pearl necklace will gradually absorb acid from the skin that will eat into the pearl, causing it to lose its luster. Wiping pearls off with either a wet or dry soft cloth will prevent dirt from accumulating and prevent perspiration, which is slightly acidic, from eating away at the nacre. You can also use a drop of olive oil on your cleansing cloth to help maintain your pearls' luster.
Along with being soft and easily scratched, pearls can also be damaged by chemicals and heat. Only use jewelry cleaners that are clearly marked "safe for pearls." Never use ultrasonic cleansers, dish or wash detergents, bleaches, baking soda or ammonia based cleansers. Also avoid toothbrushes, or any other abrasive materials to clean your pearls. Always take off your pearls before using any cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume and avoid heat and dry air because both can cause pearls to turn brown, dry out, and crack.
Gemstones are quite literally hard as rock, buy they can be damaged from careless handling and negligence. If you have a ring set with a softer gem variety or an included stone, take it off before heading to the gym. Even the hardest gem of them all, the diamond, can shatter in two with a single well-placed blow.
Never remove rings by pulling on the stone, as it could result in a loose, then lost, gem. Most importantly, store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don't scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap.
Rings in particular tend to collect dust and soap behind the gem, especially if worn often. Clean them regularly, allowing the light to shine in on your gem. To clean transparent crystalline gemstones, simply soak them in water with a touch of gentle dish soap. Use a bowl of water rather than the sink to eliminate the risk of anything going down the drain. If necessary, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone. Rinse the soap off and pat dry with a lint-free cloth (you want to make sure threads won't catch on the prongs).
Think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems many not, in particular emerald, opal, pearls, peridot.
Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber should only be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: Over time, they can damage pearls. Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic or ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light. Opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise, malachite require special care because they are rocks, not crystals of a single mineral like transparent gems. These gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. They can also be porous and may absorb chemicals like soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolor it. Never use and ultrasonic cleaner and never use ammonia or any chemical solution.
Clean rhodium plated silver with warm water and a mild liquid soap (like ivory dishwashing soap). Immediately rinse and dry with a soft polishing cloth to avoid mineral residue from the water
Never use any chemicals on your rhodium items, especially toothpaste, and never brush with a toothbrush. Don't use polishing cloths that are intended for use on uncoated silver or for gold jewelry and do not place in an ultrasonic cleaner. Never use abrasives of any kind or silver dips. Also do not use ammonia-based products and if you have an antique or heirloom piece, consult an expert on your item before cleaning.
Vermeil simply means gold plating over sterling silver. Clean gold vermeil by washing your jewelry in warm soapy water. Use lukewarm water (not hot as it can crack some stones) and a couple drops of non-film leaving dish soap (not antibacterial). Use a soft toothbrush to get into tight places. Rinse and dry with a soft polishing cloth immediately to avoid mineral residue from the water.
Keep jewelry away from hard surfaces, as bumps and scratches will cause the gold layer to wear away faster. Store your gold-plated jewelry in a velvet lined jewelry box, or wrap it in a soft material that will prevent scratches, and lightly wipe your gold-plated jewelry with a damp cotton cloth after each use. This will help to eliminate any dirt or dust from accumulating on the surface and wearing away the gold layer. Use a non-abrasive jewelry polishing cloth and gently rub the gold-plated jewelry to restore shine. You can also take jewelry to a local jeweler where they can replace the gold layer if necessary.