Jewellery: Maintain that masterpiece

Gold needs polishing and diamonds are washable, but pearls and perfume are never a good match - here's 10 tips on caring for your jewellery.

Polishing yellow gold regularly will retain its glow.
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1 Polish gold every few years

Yellow gold is known for its glossy finish and through everyday wear (especially with pieces you sport daily), scratches are inevitable. The only way to address this is by having the piece polished every few years. The process involves removing a very fine layer of gold off the top (similar to microdermabrasion for your skin) and must be done at a jeweller’s.

2 Get the setting checked

Settings are more vulnerable than you may think – minute clasps can loosen after a few years and stones can move around or fall out. Get the settings on your best pieces checked by a professional every year or so, particularly for bracelets and rings that go through more bumping and scratching.

3 Clean your diamonds at home

Diamonds are tough and need minimal post-purchase care. The carbon-based gems simply need a soft toothbrush (such as one for children) and some soapy water; we prefer using washing-up liquid as it cuts through grease from lotions, as well as the skin’s natural oils. Whenever you notice that your rocks are losing their sheen, take the dipped toothbrush to them and scrub gently.

4 Keep perfume away from pearls

Most jewellery wearers should avoid spraying themselves with perfume once their pieces are in place, but pearl lovers in particular need to be cautious. With gold and diamonds, spraying the fragrance on a few minutes before putting your jewellery on will suffice. Pearls, on the other hand, are extremely delicate and will get irreparably damaged from perfume on the neck or wrists. A good tip to maintaining pearls is wiping them carefully with a dry, soft cloth every time you take them off.

5 Separate your gems

Each gemstone is made up of different chemical compounds, resulting in differing stone strengths. As a result, stronger stones will easily scratch weaker ones if they come into contact when stored. Separate your pieces using small plastic bags (what jewellers use in store) or tissue paper to avoid any scratches.

6 Avoid chemicals

There’s no denying that a beautiful pair of earrings can transform swimwear from drab to elegant. The downside? Chlorine, the compound found in pool water, is highly corrosive and will tarnish metals. Another culprit is household cleaning agents, so be sure to remove your everyday jewels before washing up.

7 Re-plate white gold

Caring for yellow gold is straight- forward but other shades of the metal need their own treatment techniques. Most white gold items are plated with rhodium and are less lustrous than yellow gold. However, due to the plating, your item may need to be re-plated every three to five years depending on the quality of the original process.

8 Keep your silver on

The easiest way to maintain silver is to keep it on. When in contact with skin, silver is less likely to get tarnished, which, in the long run, makes its upkeep much easier. If the silver does tarnish, however, a simple sterling-silver dip will have your piece looking bright and clean in no time. Be wary of silver jewellery that includes gemstones, as the dip will not only remove the tarnish, but also the polish and colour of the stones.

9 Don’t wash coloured stones

Although many gemstones are easily cleaned at home, a large selection should never come into contact with water. Turquoise, amber, coral and opal don’t do well in water, however, ultrasonic or steam-cleaning is also unsuitable for a slew of other stones such as emeralds, garnets, jade and rubies. Your best option in this instance is to consult a professional for all coloured rocks.

10 Don’t toss the original packaging

Many of us are guilty of dumping all our pieces into one big jewellery box, creating a jumbled mess of necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets. Storing individual pieces in their original packaging will not only prevent your items from becoming tangled and damaged, but it will also allow you to find them more easily when it’s time to put them on.