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
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
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.
Insuring your Fine jewelry
Whether you've paid $10,000 (or more) for a diamond engagement ring or $200 for a gemstone necklace, jewelry insurance is a way of protecting its value from loss. You should insure any type of jewelry that is valuable to you – whether the value is in dollars and cents or emotional value. With appropriate coverage, jewelry insurance will repair or replace a covered piece due to loss or damage.
There are two specific options to consider when insuring your jewelry:
Renters or Homeowners Policy ‐ These policies cover jewelry theft up to a certain dollar limit, and you may not be covered for other losses like loss from a fire. You can usually purchase what's called "scheduled personal property coverage" which is an insurance policy extension that covers specific listed items.
Jewelry Insurance ‐ Jewelry insurance is a specific type of insurance that may cover loss due to theft as well as other damage. Premiums will vary based on use, where the jewelry is stored, the type of home you have and whether or not there is a security system. Coverage can cost as little as 1% to 2% of the jewelry's value to a bit more, depending on any number of different factors.
How To Insure Your Jewelry
First, get your jewelry appraised by a professional jewelry appraiser. For diamonds and gemstones, it's a good idea to find an appraiser that has been certified by a gemological lab, such as the GIA, EGL, ISI or AGS. You must usually have an appraisal report in hand prior to obtaining jewelry insurance.
Second, find out what jewelry coverage is included in your existing homeowners or renters policy. If the coverage is inadequate, you may need to add a jewelry addendum or purchase a separate policy. Some questions you should ask your agent include:
- Do you need to have your jewelry appraised by an insurance company‐approved appraiser or can you use your own?
- Will the policy cover you for any losses when traveling?
- How will you be required to prove the loss of your jewelry?
- Does the policy only cover theft or will it also cover mysterious disappearance, damage, or loss due to a fire or other disaster?
- Will your jewelry be covered for full replacement cost? Will the insurance company send you a check, or will they require you to replace your lost piece with one that is same? Or with a similar item from a certain store?
It is recommend that you have your covered jewelry reappraised every two to four years. Notify your insurance broker/agent of any changes to make certain that your coverage continues to reflect its fair market value.