Photograph Your Jewellery
Before we explain how to take care of your jewellery please do one thing immediately! Even before you clean it! Photograph it all! This has proven to be the single most important thing that you can do to help the police recover your valuables. A picture speaks a thousand words and the police can far more easily recognize articles from pictures than from descriptions. The photos don’t have to be professional or even high quality but simply good enough that the items are clearly recognizable.
Useful Tips For Cleaning Antique Jewellery
Cleaning gold, silver and platinum
Gold and silver are both malleable and ductile, chemically stable by themselves and can be recycled and remodelled into a whole host of objects. Gold preserves its lustre over prolonged periods of timee and will not chip, flake or corrode. Highly polished silver is the best reflector of light and it retains its strength regardless of distortion.
Unfortunately, none of the forgoing means that either of them are indestructible.
Gold is measured in carats and they an indication of its purity. Most of us first discover the importance of gold ranges when we get married and the choices are usually from 9 carats (9ct), 18ct, 22ct and 24ct.
The purer the gold, the softer it is, until, in its purest form of 24 carats, it becomes one of the softest metals known. Purer gold scratches and buckles easily with any kind of abrasion or force and so is highly recommended that you remove rings or similar jewellery before perfuming any kind of manual work. In much the same way, several rings on the same finger will often cause a ring to suffer deep scratches and particularly if they are of different carats and perhaps worst of all if one or more of them contains harder substances like diamonds.
It might come as a surprise to discover that most gold jewellery can be cleaned in warm soapy water and any angular areas around stones or the back of the item, which may be indented can be scrubbed with an old soft toothbrush after dipping it in the soapy solution. Gold also responds well to a light rubbing with a rouge-impregnated cloth which gives it a shine and is available in most supermarkets.
18ct gold and higher will not generally suffer from discolouration or tarnish and isn’t harmed by contact with household chemicals. Be aware though that bleach and other cleaning products will damage lower carat gold however because they aren’t so pure (they are alloys) and are therefore much more prone to damage by corrosive chemicals.
Don’t bother to clean silver before putting it into storage because it will need to be cleaned anyway when you take it out. Don’t use newspaper to wrap the silver nor use elastic bands to bind several pieces together as after a while the rubber will bond to the silver as the rubber deteriorates and rots and will leave a stain and newspaper will do the same. As an alternative, use acid-free paper to wrap items and store them where it’s not damp.
Slightly tarnished sterling silver can easily be returned to a bright polish by simply rubbing or buffing it with a soft cloth. When an item is heavily tarnished then it might be better to use a proprietary silver cleaning solution like Goddard’s Silver Dip which will always do the trick.
Be extra careful when cleaning silver plate! Always use the least abrasive option when dealing with silver plate because an over zealous rubbing will remove the silver and reveal the base metal.
Diamonds and Gemstones
The worst thing that can possibly happen when you clean stones is that you lose them! So, always use a bowl of water and not the sink! If you feel that you must put the bowl in the sink then make sure that you put the plug in first.
Before you start to clean the gemstone make sure that it is secure in its claw mounting. You can check this by holding the item of jewellery in one hand and then just use a fingernail to push the stone gently. If it moves then take it to a jeweller and have it repaired.
An old soft toothbrush and warm soapy water is just perfect for removing the grease, dust, grit and dead skin that fills the gaps and indentations around the stone anchors of a ring or any other item of jewellery and a soft brush, even an artists brush is infinitely preferable to using a cloth as the threads from a piece of cloth can easily get trapped in a claw. This many times weakens the claws grip causing the stone to fall out weeks or months later.
Be aware that some stones are softer than others and some are more absorbent. Gemstones that fall into these categories are, pearls, ivory, coral, turquoise, opal and amber and extra care should be exercised when cleaning them so as not to scratch them and remember not to leave them soaking for too long. When not in use they should be stored in a jewellery box that has separate compartments.
Particular care must be taken with pearls because any damage usually results in some discolouration and/or a reduction of their lustre. They can be damaged by perfume, hairspray, deodorant creams and sprays, makeup, skin lotions and nail polish remover.
Before you put them on allow sufficient time for the spays and creams to dry and wipe them off with a soft damp cloth before putting them away in order to remove any remaining residue.
Some final tips
When your jewellery is not being worn it is best to keep it in a lined box similar to the one that it was in when you purchased it.
Always remove tangles from necklaces and bracelets as metal or diamonds can easily scratch the surfaces of other stone or metals that they come into contact with.
Don’t wear good quality jewellery when gardening, doing housework or when playing any kind of sport and especially don’t wear it when you go to your local swimming pool. Apart from the danger of loss, the chlorine in the water can be very destructive and cause surface damage.
Chlorine was an active ingredient that was introduced during the refining processes of gold and silver in order to separate the base metals in the melting crucible so they are particularly vulnerable to it.
We hope that you found our article both useful and interesting.