Inside your jewelry box might be some of the most meaningful, beautiful (and possibly expensive) things you own — but are you treating your baubles with the utmost care? As your jeweler there are just a few care mistakes that make us cringe, but here is how to ensure your favorite pieces last a lifetime!
1. You pick up your brand new piece from Sollberger’s — and never bring it back again.
When you see a cool vintage car driving around, it's because someone treated it right from the very beginning, And just like you would never go years without getting your car serviced, you shouldn't skip taking your jewelry in for a tune-up either — we will check your prongs and give your ring a quick clean for free, and it could really extend the life of your piece.
During a professional cleaning, we restore the sparkle to stones, so your piece will look as clean and sparkly and it possibly can. It also gives us the opportunity to check for any damage or wear. For instance, people may not realize if they've loosened a ring's prongs. We'll tighten them to prevent loss of the stone.
We would recommend bringing your jewelry in for a check-up every six months (especially older pieces of jewelry, think grandmother’s ring you inherited), but once a year is generally acceptable and more typical. Some pieces require an even closer inspection after a few years: Jacques (Mr. Sollberger) would recommend that your automatic watches be overhauled every three to five years because lubrication dries out and gaskets break down, which could impact how the watch runs and how waterproof the watch actually is.
2. You don't clean your jewelry yourself, either.
Sorry y’all, you're not off the hook from at-home maintenance even if you do take your jewelry in to get cleaned by a pro. The number one mistake we see is not cleaning pieces frequently enough. Rings come in completely caked with lotion, and with dirt under the prongs. This can compromise the settings and can damage certain stones.
A microfiber cloth is great for getting any film or dirt off gemstones (think something similar to what you would wipe the lens of your glasses/sunglasses with). There are also many jewelry cleaners we sell in-store, but in a pinch, we tell people that a mild dish soap (e.g. dawn) with a little warm water works well, too. Just use the soap and perhaps an old or a soft child's toothbrush to gently clean your pieces.
3. You risk damage with bad DIY cleaning methods.
Dish soap is really the strongest thing you should use. Denatured alcohol can be good for cleaning residue off diamonds, but definitely don't use it on softer stones like pearls, opals, or emeralds. Turquoise and coral are other stones that won't stand-up well to a harsh treatment. Lemon juice or other acids can also damage delicate pieces or porous stones.
Some people will suggest using toothpaste to clean jewelry. While it can remove tarnish from silver, it's still really too abrasive. It will wear down the metal over time and leave tiny scratches on the metal and stones.
Ted agrees: "Toothpaste is horrible! It hardens like glue underneath gemstones and is extremely difficult to remove."
4. You shower wearing your jewelry.
Jewelry can likely take a dip in the pool, or even an occasional shower at the gym, but it's not a good idea to make it a habit. The effects of hard water and soap scum are hard to remove. Showers aren't good for costume jewelry either — steam can loosen the glue that holds pieces together, or you can cause rusting.
A plain metal wedding band is probably fine to wear in the shower, but it's always better to take jewelry off, if you can. Shampoo and conditioner can get stuck behind mountings, and might also contain chemicals that can damage the metal over time.
5. You don't put your pearls on last.
Softer stones like pearls are the exception to jewelry's general durability rules. They're a delicate gemstone. They always go on last — after you've done all your primping, your hairspray, and your makeup. Pearls have a luster that can be damaged easily by many chemicals, and you shouldn't store pearls in something airtight like a plastic zip-top bag – they need to be able to breathe.
Strands of pearls require even more maintenance than other pieces. The string stretches over time, and if you're able to move a pearl on the strand at all, it's probably time for the set to be restrung. Otherwise, moisture can get in-between the stones and can cause them to break down.
6. You don't get your pricey jewelry appraised or insured.
Your current [homeowner's or renter's] insurance policy should have a jewelry provision, and you might find out that it has an extremely high deductible or that the cap is very low. You'll likely need an additional policy to cover pricier pieces, and they're comprehensive and inexpensive — a yearly fee of only about $1 to $1.50 per every hundred dollars your jewelry is worth.
And how do you know how much a piece is worth? Start by getting it appraised by a certified gemologist or at least a graduated gemologist, like our very own Ted Allgood who is not only a GIA certified Gemologist, but also a AGS certified Appraiser.
7. You assume you can't take your jewelry to a jeweler if you didn't buy it there.
People think 'oh, if I didn't buy it there, they're not going to want to fix it!’. That couldn't be further from the truth — especially since so many people buy things online these days.
Plus, most jewelry maintenance (like fixing loosened clasps or replacing a broken chain) is more inexpensive than people realize — but could really help a piece last longer.
Jewelry can hold a lot of sentiment and memories for people, and if you give it the care it deserves, you'll keep it for longer. This is exactly what we want for you! Whether it be a piece you inherited from a loved one or a piece from us, we want the most longevity possible and will strive to give that to you.