Photos in collage: Pexels and 123rf
Investing in your first jewellery piece feels like a dream come true. Seeing it starting to rust? Well… not so much.
As we start gathering classic pieces we hope to keep with us for a long time, we often forget the one thing we actually need to extend its lifespan – looking after it. No matter how many carats or how expensive a piece of jewellery is, it wouldn’t last long if you don’t do anything to make it last long.
It’s down to the little things like exposure to everyday chemicals, or even the heat and humidity we experience daily.
So to make sure your investment stays worthy, read our guide on how to care for it. Only then will your classic jewellery truly stay gorgeous and looking brand new.
Check your jewellery
All we usually do with our jewellery is take it out of its box, wear it, come home and put it back. So to determine if your pieces need some extra care, sit down every now and then – unless you’d rather send your pieces to a professional – and carefully check your pieces. Usually, some jewellery pieces (or all of them) would need a little refresher.
Keep your jewellery away from chemicals
When exposed to chemicals, the surface of your jewellery will discolour or damages, sometimes permanently. The chemicals in question actually lie all around us – in cleaning products, swimming pools and even our sweat. More importantly, you can find it in our hair products, makeup, lotion and perfume.
If you’re going out, jewellery is the last thing you’ll want put on. If you tend to wear perfume at your neck or wrists, go for areas that aren’t in contact with your jewellery. After you’ve worn your jewellery, wipe it down with a clean soft cloth (or a lint-free cloth) so as to remove any chemicals, oils, or sweat.
Avoid cleaning, physical work and swimming with your jewellery on.
Be wary of the climate
Some materials like pearls and opals, are sensitive to heat and sudden temperature changes. Just as heat makes your skin dehydrated, some gems can lose their natural moisture which keeps them looking good. More delicate materials like pearls, ivory or amber, could bleach or darken if they are exposed to too much light.
So always be wary of the environment you’ll be in when wearing considering what jewellery to wear – if you’re unsure, check with your jeweller for your piece’s needs.
Generally, every two years or so, your jewellery may need to be maintained according to the materials they are made out of. White gold should be re-plated, platinum re-polished and the prongs on your ring (which hold dazzling rocks in place) re-tipped. Of course, only do so if completely necessary.
If you have a pearl necklace or bracelet that you wear often, get it restrung every now and then with a knot between each pearl so you can’t lose it if the string breaks.
This part is a little bit more complex since different materials require different methods of cleaning. You’ll want to clean them often as lotions, soaps and oils can alter the appearance of your jewellery to make them look dull.
If your precious metal jewellery is tarnished, use a polishing cloth (which can be found at online) to clean it before rinsing and drying it.
To clean, prevent and remove tarnish from silver, use a polishing solution (try Tiffany & Co’s S$50 silver cleaning set) as and when needed. For a quicker, on-the-go method, use a lint-free (or polishing) cloth and wipe it down – just enough and not too much, till it ruins your jewellery’s finish. However, if your piece has soft gemstones avoid the polishing solution.
To clean gold, drop a few drops of mild dishwashing liquid to a bowl filled with two cups of warm water. Let your gold soak in the solution for about 15 minutes and then gently scrub it with a soft-bristle brush, or rub it with a soft cloth to remove stubborn dirt or grime. Use the same method for cleaning diamond jewellery and coloured gems. Just don’t clean it in the sink in case a stone or your entire jewellery drops.
Polish pearls by first of all, laying them on a soft cloth. Then, dip a small makeup brush into a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild shampoo. Go over each pearl and rinse them with a clean, well-wrung damp soft cloth. If you are cleaning a string of pearls, lay it flat to dry so that the string won’t stretch. Don’t touch the string either as it’s more likely to attract dirt when it’s wet. Use the same method for other porous stones.
As every piece of jewellery is unique, the best and safest way to clean them is by following the care instructions given by the manufacturer, or sending it to a professional for cleaning.
Avoid harsh cleaning
It is called precious jewellery for a reason. So don’t use harsh chemicals or methods that involve toothpaste or baking soda that is rubbed onto the metal. You’ll end up damaging your jewellery bit by bit by removing small amounts of metal each time.
Although ultrasonic cleaners are good to remove stubborn stains, there’s a long, complex list to what can and cannot be used with them, so it’s best to leave this method of cleaning to the pros (not us for sure).
Also remember to keep silver jewellery in an anti-tarnish pouch.
Store your jewellery properly
Quit throwing your jewellery into the drawer and leaving it on the desk. That’s how they might overheat, tarnish faster, get scratches… or go missing.
Precious jewellery should ideally be stored away from light or free flowing air which causes it to tarnish faster and gather dust. Which is why jewellery boxes were made – so use them. They are great thanks to their soft, padded interior and structure that allows for each piece to be kept individually.
If you don’t want to invest in a jewellery box, keep it in a box fabric-lined box, but ensure that each piece is kept in the box or pouch it came in. Also keep them separately or individually-wrapped in tissue.
Pearls, opals, or any materials that draw moisture from air should not be kept in a dry area – like a safe deposit box. This could cause cracking so make sure they have a little air flow.