With the sun shining and a full calendar of outside activities over the month ahead, maintaining the shine and beauty of your jewelry might not be on the top of your to-do list. No matter where your summer plans take you, there are a few tips and tricks you should follow to ensure that your jewelry stays in tip-top shape for both the summer and the years to come.
Between pool chemicals, garden dirt and sunscreen, your most precious pieces of jewelry will come in contact with dozens of chemicals that can leave films of residue or remove layers of shine on your jewelry.
1. Avoid Sunscreen on Precious Metals
Sunscreen and lotion can build up over time and loosen the prongs holding in the stones of your wedding ring. The chemicals in tanning lotion may dull the sparkle in your ring and leave buildup under the stone that you may not be able to easily see. Look at the back of your rings and see if you can see light coming through the setting. If you can not, it might be time for a professional cleaning. Light through the stones is what creates the sparkle in your jewelry.
To avoid this build up, remove all your jewelry before putting on tanning lotion or sunscreen. Once your lotion has dried, you can put the jewelry back on.
2. Never Wear Jewelry in the Pool or Ocean
Saltwater and chlorine can eat away at the metal alloys in your jewelry, causing it to look tarnished. Over time the chemicals can eat away at the metal leaving you with brittle and fragile jewelry. If you regularly swim, leave your jewelry at home or in your swim locker to prevent this from happening.
3. Keep Jewelry Safe While Traveling
It’s well known that if you are traveling to a foreign country that you should think twice before bringing along expensive jewelry, however even domestic travel can have a negative impact on your collection.
- Try not to bring along a full jewelry chest, most likely you only need a few versatile pieces that you can wear for different occasions.
- Wrap each piece of jewelry in a piece of tissue paper. This helps prevent them from rubbing up against each other and becoming scratched.
- Never put important jewelry in a checked bag. If your bag is lost in transit you can most likely recover the cost of the items but the sentimental value may not be worth the risk.
- Store your jewelry in a safe or lockbox when you are not wearing them. Most hotels provide a lockbox you can access in your room.
4. Clean Jewelry Regularly
Even with the best of intentions at keeping your jewelry clean, sweat and lotions will ultimately find their way onto the things you wear most frequently. Before any type of cleaning, you should have the items checked for repair. If a prong is loose or a setting has cracked you may lose a stone or damage the item. Most jewelers will check for repair needed and ultrasonic clean your jewelry for free (make sure to tell them what type of gemstones you have; soft stones like emeralds can not be ultrasonically cleaned).
Cleaning Gold and Diamonds
The best way to clean items like your wedding band, earrings and fine necklaces is to make a solution of hot water and a small amount of dishwashing soap. Soak for 20 – 40 minutes and gently brush the stone with a very soft toothbrush (be very careful not to scratch the metal) and rinse under warm running water. If you have concerns that your stones are loose, use a second bowl with clean warm water to make sure nothing falls out.
If you regularly wear white gold it will dull and darken in time. This is a result of the types of metal combined to make white gold appear white. The only true cleaning method for returning a white gold piece of jewelry to its full sparkle is by having a jeweler rhodium plate or dip the item. Check to see if your jewelry has a warranty that covers this service. If not, it typically costs between $100 – $200 dependent on the type of jewelry.
Cleaning Sterling Silver
Sterling silver will tarnish quickly during the summer months. The best way to keep it clean and shiny is by purchasing a silver polishing cloth and giving each piece a good wipe down before and after wearing. There are plenty of home cleaning tips you can try for silver but to avoid damaging your pieces stay away from anything with harsh chemicals.
5. Don’t Sleep Wearing Jewelry
After a busy day in the sun remembering to take your jewelry off might not be on the top of your list. Sleeping in jewelry wears down the settings and can result in loosing the backs of earrings or gemstones in your sheets. To ensure your jewelry stays in top condition, make sure to take everything off before bed time and wipe it down with a soft cloth to remove the oils from your skin. Keep a small cup, dish or tray on your nightstand to keep everything together. When you wake, you can take everything out of the dish and put it back on for the day ahead!
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