Fine Jewelry Care
Quick Tips on Jewelry Care
- Fine Jewelry should be properly valued for insurance purposes and kept in good repair. Dirt buildup hastens wear. While we recommend 6-month checkups for valuable fine jewelry – at least annually – professional cleanings and routine inspections by a jeweler to check for broken or worn metal work, faulty clasps, and damaged gemstones, can help assure that your jewelry is maintained in wearable condition.
- Follow cleaning instructions that come with particular jewelry pieces. Or check the designer’s or manufacturer’s website for cleaning information, or contact place of purchase. In absence of specific cleaning instructions, most jewelry containing precious metals and gemstones, can be safely cleaned at home with a soft, clean microfiber cleaning cloth after each wear, to remove fingerprints, oils, dirt and residues. If a more thorough cleaning is necessary, most metals and gemstones, other than Ethiopian Opals (see below), can be cleaned in warm soapy water and a soft toothbrush (do not use toothbrush on pearls or other organic or soft gems), followed by thorough cool rinse and microfiber dry and air dry. Keep in mind that strung jewelry can be delicate so use caution and clean very gently. Pearls, other organic gems, and soft or porous gems like opals require special care with respect to home and professional cleaning. More detailed information on strung jewelry and pearls is provided in later sections.
- Store jewelry in separate soft compartments. Cluttered jewelry can become scratched (even diamonds), tangled, mangled, or broken.
- Store jewelry away from sunlight. Some gemstones (such as amethyst) are prone to fading.
- Keep jewelry secure. Do not place in a pocket, on a counter, in a public area, or near a sink, drain, grate or vent.
- Protect jewelry from theft. Most burglaries happen in broad daylight. Keep doors and windows locked, and store jewelry in an unlikely place. Visible jewelry boxes are obvious to thieves. Valuable or extensive jewelry collections should be secured in a burglary and fire-resistant safe. Keep valuable jewelry at home when traveling, or store in hotel safe (not a room safe).
- Do not wear fine jewelry to the beach. Sand can scratch gemstones and precious metals. Sand can also cause strung designer jewelry to break if it seeps into intricate areas and eventually wears out securing metal or stringing materials such as silk. Also, salt water can damage some metals and stones.
- Do not wear jewelry in pools. Chlorine can damage precious metals (including gold) and some gemstones.
- It is best not to wear jewelry during sleep, bathing, showering, housecleaning or exercise. Activities prone to banging jewelry can damage metal and stones. Even diamonds can break, chip or scratch. Delicate and more fragile jewelry should not be worn worn everyday and especially not during activities that can put stress on the piece. If you bump or snag jewelry, it is advisable to have it checked for damage that you might not notice.
- Be extra mindful of rings. Fingers constrict in cool water and rings can fall off and get lost, so do not wear rings while swimming. When washing hands, do not place rings near a sink or drain. Keep a ring stand in every bathroom and in the kitchen to hold rings when taken off to wash hands, prep or cook food, do dishes and other cleaning chores around the house. Do not take rings off when outside the house; keep rings on when washing hands in a public restroom where there is a greater risk of accident, loss and theft.
Preserve sea treasures and other organic gems with special care. With every order containing pearl or shell jewelry, we include our Brochure on the “Care & Cleaning of Fine Pearls.”
Cultured freshwater and saltwater pearl jewelry can last generations with proper care. While pearls are not fragile, they are not a hard gemstone, and caution against rough handling and contact with harder surfaces helps prevent damage.
Also, pearls are organic. To maintain their luster, color, and surface structure, protect pearls from heat, chemicals, cosmetics, perfume, hairspray, lotions, and perspiration. Coral and Shells (mother of pearl, conch, abalone, shiva and others) are also organic, and can be much more fragile than pearls. At a minimum, shell and coral jewelry should be cared for similar to pearl jewelry.
Below are a few care and cleaning tips designed to safeguard your pearl, shell and coral jewelry. These tips can be followed to care for other organic jewelry such as amber and soft or porous gemstones such as turquoise and opals. You might find it beneficial to treat all your jewelry with special care.
1. Last On, First Off. Jewelry should be the last items that you put on to get ready and the first to take off. Hairspray should be used only before putting on jewelry. Do not put creams, oils, lotions, perfumes, etc. on skin near areas where jewelry will be worn. Not only can these items permanently dull some gemstones, but also can discolor pearls and shells.
2. Household cleaning products and chemicals are hazardous to pearl, shell and coral jewelry. Pearl nacre can be removed, resulting in lost luster and a dull, pitted surface. Also, pearl color can be lightened, darkened or even completely discolored. Do not wear organic jewelry during hair salon or spa services, bathing or showering, washing dishes, working with chemicals, cleaning house, doing yard work, engaging in sports or other strenuous activities, or while swimming in a chlorinated pool.
3. Many jewelry cleaners and dips can permanently harm the appearance and organic structure of pearls, shells and coral. After wear, clean organic jewelry with a damp or dry soft clean microfiber cloth. With every order, we provide a travel size Arpaia Lang microfiber cloth that is safe to clean all jewelry. As a general rule, clean organic jewelry without soap or detergent, and occasionally as needed use warm water with mild detergent-free soap, making sure to rinse piece well. Do not use a toothbrush or anything other than a soft clean cloth on organic jewelry. Strung jewelry should be left to dry on a clean towel; do not touch until completely dry, as stringing materials such as silk can attract dirt and also stretch. NEVER STEAM OR ULTRASONIC CLEAN ORGANIC JEWELRY.
4. Store each item of organic gemstone jewelry in a separate soft pouch away from other jewelry and hard objects. Do not store pearls in a closed plastic bag; they require moisture from air to preserve luster and healthy nacre. Store organic jewelry away from heat sources and intense light. Heat can burn organic gems and cause discoloration, splitting and cracking. Even intense light can cause pearls to dehydrate, resulting in cracked nacre.
5. Cultured pearl and other gemstone knotted strands should be restrung annually if worn regularly. Less-worn strands should be restrung as needed – when stringing material looks frayed or slack. For restringing services, contact place of purchase. Arpaia Jewelry performs expert stringing services for our clients, and we provide an estimate before any work is performed.
Arpaia Pearl Care Brochure ~ First image below back cover (left) / front cover (right). Second image below inside text.
Opals from Australia and most other parts of the world where the precious opal is sourced originate from sedimentary rock and may be gently cleaned with a microfiber cloth, or if needed, a warm soapy water wash, rinse and microfiber dry and then natural air dry. However, Ethiopian precious opals originate in volcanic rock and are hydrophane in nature. Immersion in water can diminish its play of color, at least temporarily, and possibly cause permanent damage to the opal. As a result, all Ethiopian opals should not be cleaned with water or any other liquids or cleaners. Hydrophane opals should be cleaned only with a clean, dry, soft microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints, dirt, oils and other residues. In addition, Ethiopian opal beads should not be worn in direct contact with skin where they can absorb damaging perspiration or skin oils, but instead, should be worn only over clothing.
Arpaia strung glass pieces are well crafted using the finest quality materials and possess sufficient durability for mindful frequent wear. Strung Arpaia glass bracelets and anklets, like all fine jewelry, are naturally limited by the inherent physical properties of the incorporated materials: precious metals are soft and porous; glass can cloud, etch, scratch, crack, and break; steel cable wire has test-strength limits and can fray or break; and some glass beads are surface coated to yield unusual and colorful optical effects, which can be marred or worn off.
As a result, gentle wear, care, handling, cleaning, and storage of strung glass bracelets and anklets are necessary to protect and maintain their beauty & longevity.
To Clean: After each wear, gently wipe piece with a clean dry untreated microfiber cloth.
Do Not clean strung glass jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner or in a steam cleaner.
Do Not use detergents or other harsh cleaning agents or chemicals.
Contrary to popular belief, toothpaste is not a gentle jewelry cleaner and should not be used to clean fine jewelry, including strung glass bracelets and anklets.
Do Not use a toothbrush to clean glass bracelets or anklets - even soft bristles can damage surface coatings and stringing materials.
If necessary, your Arpaia strung glass bracelet or anklet may be gently washed with a clean microfiber cloth in warm soapy water. Cool air dry with a blowdryer until water droplets are gone and then lay piece flat to thoroughly air dry for 24 hours before wear or storage.
Do Not use silver tarnish removers or polishing agents and compounds. If the precious metal on your glass bracelet or anklet should exhibit tarnish, patina, or other visible signs of age and wear like scratches, please contact me for possible cleaning/polishing solutions.
To Store: When not worn, seal glass bracelet or anklet in an anti-tarnish plastic bag and then place in a soft fabric pouch or separate compartment of jewelry box. This will help deter silver oxidation and damage from contact with other jewelry.
As with all fine jewelry, store glass bracelets and anklets away from heat sources.
Gentle Wear & Handling:
Be careful not to bang or drop glass bracelet or anklet. I recommend putting glass bracelets on and taking glass bracelets off over a soft surface like a bed. Sit down comfortably and bend over to put on and take off glass anklets.
Do Not wear glass bracelets or anklets while sleeping, bathing, showering, exercising, cleaning, washing dishes, working with chemicals, swimming, horseback riding, rock climbing, playing sports, or performing other strenuous activity.
Do Not wear glass bracelets or anklets to the beach; sand is a harsh abrasive and can easily damage precious metals, glass beads, and surface coatings on beads and stringing wire.
Also, glass bracelets should not be worn while filing or engaging in other work activities where they can get caught and forcefully pulled ... the strand can break and glass beads chip or break.
Maintenance: Strung glass bracelets and anklets that are frequently worn may require restringing from time to time. Look for signs of wear, such as stretching, worn cable fibers, tired clasp, or loose/damaged parts. Arpaia Jewelry performs professional jewelry cleaning & stringing services.
While these care instructions pertain to Arpaia strung glass jewelry, they may also be useful for other strung glass pieces.
To Clean a Microfiber Cloth: Most microfiber cloths may be cleaned in a washing machine on gentle or regular cycle. Do not use fabric softener or too much soap as they reduce the cleaning effect of a microfiber cloth. While most microfiber cloths can be put in a clothes dryer, they will last longer and clean better if allowed to air dry after washing. In this regard, microfiber cloths dry quickly.
Overtime, stretchable stringing materials loose elasticity or get over-stretched, and can tear, snap, or break. Correct fit, gentle handling, proper care, and periodic restringing can help prevent accidental breakage.
- Good fit. A stretch bracelet should fit the wrist well. Stretch bracelets should not be tight or snug. Constant tension causes greater wear. The best fit is one that sustains no tension on the elastic core during normal wear. Also, the bracelet should not be too loose. Gaping bracelets are prone to catching on things and getting pulled during wear.
- Roll on and off. The less stretch, the better. Roll the bracelet smoothly over the hand to put on and take off. Breakage often occurs when taking stretch bracelets on and off. I recommend to clients that they slip stretch bracelets on and off while leaning over a bed, so that if the elastic breaks, all components fall onto a soft area where they can be easily collected for restringing.
- Gently clean stretch bracelets. Follow cleaning instructions of manufacturer or designer. In absence thereof, a safe cleaning method is to gently wipe piece with a clean soft microfiber cloth after each wear. This is the recommended cleaning method for Arpaia stretch bracelets.
- Store stretch jewelry separately in a soft pouch away from other jewelry. All jewelry should be stored away from sunlight and other heat sources.
- Restring stretch bracelets periodically. We use the finest quality solid stretch beading cord that does not fray. However, all stretch materials dehydrate overtime and can exhibit other signs of wear. Dehydration and wear results in loss of elasticity and strength and possibly breakage. Examine stretch bracelets every time before putting on. If the cord appears slack or shows any other signs of wear, it should be restrung. Stretch bracelets that are worn often should be restrung at least annually if not more frequently. As mentioned, elastic cord dries out over time, so even when not worn, all stretch bracelets should be restrung occasionally. Craft stores carry stringing materials for those who wish to restring. Stringing can be fun, awaken one's creativity, and be a practical cost-saving approach especially with respect to inexpensive pieces. It is advisable to retain the services of a qualified professional to restring more valuable pieces. Arpaia Jewelry performs professional jewelry cleaning & stringing services.
Gemstone necklace strands require maintenance. As explained below, we recommend restringing strung gemstone jewelry periodically, even if strength and durability do not appear to be compromised.
Regularly check any strung necklace to see if it looks slack, frayed, or compromised in any way. If you wear a strung gemstone necklace several times a week, it is advisable to have it restrung once a year or more frequently to prevent breakage. This is especially true if the necklace is long or if there are quite a few gemstones on the strand. Even strung chokers and other necklaces with just one, two, or several gemstone beads need to be restring periodically.
Sometimes strung jewelry will break right away from a strong catch or pull. Oftentimes, however, the breakage occurs later on, at a time when the piece seems to break for no apparent reason. The injury may have actually occurred at the time of trauma, but it took awhile for the stress point to break completely through. Or, simply over time, the sharp edges of the drill holes on gemstone beads cut away at the wire or thread eventually causing breakage.
It is important to keep in mind with strung gemstone necklaces that beads can be lost if the strand breaks. Strand diamond and other gemstone necklaces are often strung without knots between beads or without crimps or epoxy to hold beads in place along the strand. In addition, the drill holes on diamond and other valuable gemstone beads tend to be extremely small since gems are sold by carat weight. As a result of the tiny drill holes, some gemstone beads require stringing on fine or very fine thread or wire. Accordingly, these strung pieces typically require more maintenance than other strung jewelry.
The key to maintaining gemstone strand necklaces is to restring a piece that has been pulled or caught, or no longer looks secure at any point along the strand, or is no longer perfectly attached to the clasp, or has been worn frequently, or enough duration of time has passed since the strand was purchased or last restrung.
Arpaia Jewelry professionally restrings pearl and gemstone strands. Our service charges are based on labor and materials. Upon request, we are happy to provide estimate prior to beginning work.
If interested in stringing services, please contact Kimberly Arpaia through this site or call (203) 772-4643.
See following sections for more specific information regarding special care of fine jewelry.
Keep Jewelry Separate and Protected. Keep each piece of fine jewelry in the original box, in a soft pouch or in separate soft padded, plush-lined compartments. Strands get tangled when lumped together, and gemstones, pearls and precious metals can get scratched and even fractured.
To help keep your Arpaia Lang jewelry looking pristine, we provide a firm gift box with every piece and a microfiber cleaning cloth with every order.
- Keep Silver Jewelry in Anti-Tarnish Bags. We provide anti-tarnish bags with all silver jewelry and recommend their use. However, we do not recommend closed plastic bags for any silver piece with pearls since their organic beauty requires moisture from air. Pearls should be kept in a silk or soft fabric pouch away from other jewelry so they do not get scratched.
Traveling with Jewelry. When traveling, a padded jewelry case is essential to protecting valuable jewelry pieces against damage. The container should serve two functions: It must protect all pieces from scratches and other impact damage, and it must also be padded to keep jewelry from bouncing around. Jewelry travel cases should have padded slots or bars for rings and separate compartments for earrings, bracelets and necklaces.
Keep jewelry in your possession while traveling - not inside luggage. At the hotel or on ship, store jewelry in the safe provided when not being worn.
Home Safe. To safeguard valuable jewelry against home theft, you may wish to consider investing in a safe, and there are many home safes available.
Some things to keep in mind in purchasing a home safe:
- Good home safes are extremely heavy and need to be bolted to the floor from the inside (so that a thief cannot unbolt it from the outside). Accordingly, it might be most practical for you to purchase a safe from a company that provides complete home delivery, installation and service.
- Consider purchasing a safe with an alarm or have the safe wired to your home security system.
- The safe should be heat, fire and drill resistant.
- If you desire a lighted safe, install a battery-operated LED. Avoid purchasing an interior lighted safe since any connection to an electrical outlet is a possible fire hazard.
- Do not store pearls, opals and any other stones that require moist air in a home safe or a safe deposit box. These environments are too dry to maintain the luster and quality of these soft porous gems. A humidor-style safe is advisable for safekeeping these stones. If a dry safe is the only safe place, keep the pearls near a cup of water in the safe and check frequently.
- If you do not have a home safe, do not store jewelry in a bedroom dresser or jewelry case since these are obvious places a thief will search. Keep jewelry in a secure lock box in an unlikely hiding place.
- Do not wear fine jewelry to the beach. Sand and saltwater can scratch and erode the finish and polish of gemstones and soft precious metals.
- Do not expose jewelry to chemicals and do not wear while swimming. Chlorine, harsh detergents and other chemicals can erode the finish or cause worse damage. Gemstones and pearls can be ruined in a split second if exposed to chemicals or harsh cleaners. Pearls and other organic gems are damaged by chlorine pool water. Even gold can become brittle if exposed to small amounts of chlorine and bleach over time, causing breaks and loose prongs.
All gemstones can be damaged, even diamonds. Diamonds are hard, but they can get marred, scratched, chipped and cracked from exposure to chemicals, high heat or trauma such as dropping, banging, rough handling or harsh treatment. Even with proper care, mishaps occur.
Fancy black diamonds by nature can be more brittle than white diamonds. The intensely vivid black color of fancy black diamonds is produced by trace elements in the crystalline structure. Although beautiful, it is these very impurities that create a more brittle stone.
- Do not wear fine jewelry in the shower or hot tub.
- Take extra precautions with fine jewelry if you enjoy an active lifestyle. Do not wear fine jewelry while playing with children, gardening, sports and exercise, or doing household chores, especially washing dishes, cleaning making beds or doing repairs, etc.
- Be careful not to catch or pull fine jewelry - it can break. When dancing or bending, long strung jewelry can get pulled and break. If jewelry catches on clothing, a snag can tear the cloth and break the jewelry. Hair is strong and can break jewelry when tangled. Combing or brushing hair can snag and break necklaces. Rings and bracelets can stretch or break from digging around in a handbag, drawer or file cabinet.
- Put jewelry on after dressing, and only on clean dry skin. Soap, makeup, powder, hairspray, perfumes, body lotions and oils can dull or cause worse damage to gemstones and pearls. Over time, even body oils and perspiration can erode fine jewelry.
- To avoid lost earrings, wear stoppers on earring wires and tight friction earring backs with post earrings. If you lose earring backs, purchase a suitable replacement from the place of purchase or at your local jewelry store - do not use an ill-fitting back.
- Make sure clasps are secure. Unsecured or improperly attached clasps, and broken or weak clasps, are a major cause of lost jewelry. With respect to strung jewelry, make sure to hold only the ends of the clasp when taking off or putting on - avoid handling any French wire covering stringing material at each end of the clasp; it can fray.
- Do not leave jewelry sitting on sinks, tables or countertops. Jewelry can disappear or be forgotten if not stored in its proper place. Rings are often lost when they are taken off to wash hands or do dishes. Place rings in ring holders placed around the house, but especially by the bed and in bathrooms and kitchen.
- Keep Jewelry away from light. Sunlight is a form of radiation. White diamonds and most colored stones are immune to the effects of light. However, some popular gems fade if exposed to light for extended periods, including kunzite, amethyst, brown topaz, pink conch-shell (cameos), dyed pearls, dyed lapis and dyed jadeite. So do not store jewelry in display windows or near bright halogen lights.
Keep Jewelry away from Heat. Heat can change a colored gemstone’s color. A jeweler’s torch can change the color of aquamarine, topaz, jadeite, lapis, amethyst, tourmaline, turquoise and zircon. A jeweler’s torch can damage liquid-filled gems and crack opals. Also, jewelry repairs can cause thermal shock damage to colored stones such as tanzanite, peridot, opal and others. Organic gems like pearls, shell, coral, ivory and amber, as well as porous inorganic gems like opal, lapis and turquoise, are very easily heat damaged at even relatively low temperatures. Accordingly, when having jewelry repaired, it is recommended to use experienced professionals.
Storage near house heat vents can easily remove the natural moisture that some gems need to maintain their beauty, such as pearls and opals. Pearls can dry out, crack and discolor from excess heat. Opals turn white or brown, develop tiny cracks from moisture loss (called crazing) and might lose their play-of-color (fire) if exposed to excessive heat. Dry storage can be just as damaging for these gems. Accordingly, do not store jewelry near heat sources and do not store pearls or opals in a safety deposit box or safe.
- Annual Professional Cleaning. Fine jewelry should be professionally cleaned once a year. At that time, the jeweler can examine the piece for signs of wear to be repaired, such as loose stones, bent prongs or stressed strands.
- Never use Abrasives to clean jewelry, not even toothpaste.
White Diamond Jewelry. Diamonds get dirty because they have an affinity for grease and oils. Dust and dirt collect in oil, and diamonds pick up oil mostly from hands. Dirt has a negative effect on the appearance of diamonds. Dirty diamonds are quite obvious and look very dull if not periodically cleaned. This is especially true of lower grade diamonds because inclusions show up more and the apparent color looks darker.
White diamond engagement rings and set white diamond jewelry should be cleaned professionally by a jeweler at least every 6 months to check for damage and clean in a steam or ultrasonic cleaner if appropriate. These cleaning methods should NOT be done at home because both can harm fracture-filled diamonds (as well as many other gemstones) and they can also shake stones loose from prongs or mountings. Further, steam cleaning can force dirt into cracks in a gemstone’s surface. For at home cleaning of white diamond jewelry, first remove debris with a soft toothbrush and soapy water. For jewelry with white diamonds and no other stones, piece also may be soaked for 10 minutes in one part ammonia and one part warm water. Rinse with running warm water. Pat dry with a clean soft microfiber cloth.
Do NOT use chlorine bleach to clean white diamond jewelry since it can pit gold alloys. Pitted metals become weak, making gemstone loss a greater risk.
Colored Diamonds and Gemstones. Do not use heat, steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Do not use cleaning solutions. Though some colored gemstones can withstand these cleaning methods, many will be harmed. As a general rule, you should gently clean colored diamonds and gemstones with a chemical-free, lint-free microfiber cloth that is safe for all gemstones. We provide one with each purchase and it is machine washable (don’t use fabric softener and air dry). After each wearing, gently wipe jewelry with a dry or slightly damp microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints and oily residue.
Over time, if you find colored gemstones looking dull, they may be cleaned with cool to warm water and mild detergent-free soap. Dirt may be removed by gently using a soft toothbrush (but do not use a toothbrush on pearls or other soft gems because they scratch easily). You may use a pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance to safely clean all gems. Rinse with cool water and gently pat dry with a clean microfiber cloth.
Before washing any jewelry be sure to cover the drain to save any gemstones that might come loose while cleaning. A rubber mat in the bottom of sink will also help prevent stones from chipping if piece falls into sink while cleaning
Caveats: Do not wet clean pieces with rose-cut white diamonds or oxidized metals such as blackened silver or blackened gold (discussed further below).
- Oxidized Jewelry. Wet cleaning oxidized (also referred to as “antiqued”) metals can remove the black finish since it often is not permanent (which is why a quick dip in silver cleaner can remove the oxidized finish completely, leaving the piece looking like plain silver). The oxidized look can lessen over time even with proper care and normal wear. We recommend that you clean oxidized jewelry gently with a soft microfiber cloth, concentrating mostly on cleaning the gemstones, with only a very light touch to the oxidized metal to prevent hastening the wear of the oxidized finish.
- Rose-cut White Diamonds and other foil-backed gemstones. DO NOT GET WET! Rosecut white diamonds (diamonds in the normal color range) are often set in a fine silver lining or actually backed with fine silver (foilback) before set to enhance the brilliance and beauty of the stones. Accordingly, do not get these pieces wet even when cleaning. Otherwise, the silver linings could erode and ruin the piece. Use only a clean dry microfiber cloth.
- Pearls. After each wear, pearls should be cleaned only with a damp or dry clean, soft, chemical-free microfiber cloth. If pearls need a more thorough cleaning, use mild detergent-free soap and cool water, rinse thoroughly and dry with microfiber cloth. Strung pearls should be set down on a clean soft towel to air dry. Do not touch a wet strand as silk and other stringing material will pick up dirt from hands. Never subject pearls to hot water, heat or chemicals.
- Tarnish Removal. Many tarnish removal methods are too harsh for fine jewelry. Silver dips can harm finishes; even a one second dip in tarnish remover can harm some gemstones and ruin the luster of pearls and other organic gems as well as soft or porous inorganic gemstones. It is safest to periodically bring your fine jewelry to your local jeweler for professional cleaning or contact the manufacturer/designer for specific cleaning instructions. With respect to your Arpaia Jewelry, please email info@ArpaiaJewelry.com or call 203-772-4643 to discuss cleaning questions and obtain specific cleaning instructions for tarnish removal.
- Arpaia Jewelry Provides Professional Cleaning Services. Contact Kimberly at Arpaia Jewelry by phone 203-772-4643 or email info@ArpaiaJewelry.com to discuss our jewelry cleaning services and applicable hourly rates.