Jewelry Care and Cleaning

The Care and Cleaning of Your Fine Jewelry

Your fine jewelry pieces are both financial and emotional investments. Caring for your diamond, gemstone and pearl jewelry will not only keep them looking great but will ensure that they will last for generations to come.


Basic Jewelry Care

All fine jewelry needs proper care. While certain pieces may need select care, most jewelry should be cared for using the following basics:

Sunlight ‐ Just like the sun damages skin, heat and light can damage certain gemstones. Too much sunlight can fade or damage amethyst and topaz. Pearls can bleach and peel if exposed to too much sun. And certain other gems, like opal, can darken if exposed to too much light. To remove any doubt, store jewelry in a dark pouch or jewelry case.

Chemicals ‐ Exposure to common everyday household chemicals, like ammonia or bleach, can damage both metals and gemstones. Even chemicals that are worn on the body – like hairspray, perfumes and lotions – can affect metals and dull gemstones. To keep your jewelry looking new, it's best to put on any perfumes, lotions or hairspray BEFORE putting on jewelry. And it's always wise to remove fine jewelry before swimming or using any type of household cleaners.

Treated Gemstones ‐ Many gemstones today have been treated, and these gemstones need special care. All treatments should be disclosed at the time of purchase. Treated gemstones may be negatively affected by heat, steam or ultrasonic cleaners and certain solvents. Follow instructions from your jeweler to keep your treated gemstone jewelry looking sparkling.

Ultrasonic Cleaners ‐ While ultrasonic cleaners are great for cleaning metals, diamonds and certain gemstones, they should not be used in the following circumstances:

  • On organic gems like pearls, coral or ivory.
  • Any gemstones that have been fracture‐filled with oil, resin or glass. For instance, most emeralds are fracture‐filled and should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • Gems that have been coated. For instance, Mystic Fire Topaz have been finished with an azotic coating and should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.
  • Certain heat‐treated gemstones.
  • Any gemstones that are susceptible to heat or temperature changes, like tanzanite, iolite, opal, etc., should not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner.

Safe and Easy Cleaning Methods

Cleaning Polishing Jewelry with cloth

Gemstones and diamonds can easily be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft brush. Clean your jewelry in a bowl of warm soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Dry your piece with a lint‐free cloth.

Softer gems, like pearls, can be scratched easily. Clean your pearls in warm, slightly soapy water, with a very soft brush. Rinse thoroughly and lay your pearls to dry on a towel or chamois. Since silk thread will stretch, it's best to let the pearls sit until the strand is completely dry.


Storing Your Fine Jewelry

Jewelry Storing Boxes

Proper storage of your fine jewelry pieces is very important. Diamond, gemstone and especially pearl jewelry should never simply be tossed into a drawer or box haphazardly as they may be scratched unintentionally.

Most jewelry pieces come in a lined box or pouch that is perfectly acceptable for storage. However, most people use a jewelry box or valet to store their pieces.

Jewelry boxes that have individual felt‐lined and padded slots for rings, necklaces and earrings will keep them organized, clean and safe. Some boxes are lined with anti‐tarnish cloth, perfect for storing sterling silver pieces.

Pearls and opals draw moisture from the air, so storing them in a safe or lockbox is not a good idea. Store pearls separately in a compartmentalized jewelry box or in a protective pouch. However, the very best way to keep pearls looking new is to wear them. Pearls will naturally absorb moisture from the air and oils from the skin, which keep them looking lustrous. The saying that "pearls want to be worn" is true!

With relatively minimal effort, your fine jewelry pieces can be cleaned, well‐cared for, safely stored and provide years and years of happy wear.


When Care Means Repair

Jewelry repairing

Keeping your fine jewelry looking great starts with regular inspection and cleaning. However, should your jewelry ever need repair or refurbishing, you can count on the jewelry craftsmen at Zales to treat your piece with care. Whether you need a simple clasp replacement or a complete mounting repair, we’ve got you covered. Some of the repairs and services we offer include:

  • Ring resizing
  • Clasp repair/replacement
  • Prong retipping/repair
  • Rhodium plating
  • Chain soldering
  • Prong replacement
  • ...and more.

Learn about the Repairs and Services available at Zales.

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