Gems and precious metals are gifts of nature, and although among the most durable of substances, they do need special care.

Even though a gem may be millions of years old, once mined and worn, it is exposed to conditions and chemicals that can damage it.

Listed below are some general rules to make sure your fine jewellery lasts for generations.

  • DON’T wear fine jewellery when doing housework or gardening
  • DON’T heap your jewellery into one drawer. Remember a diamond ring can scratch a pearl necklace. Keep them separate and, ideally, wrapped in velvet, paper, silk or a plastic bag.
  • DON’T overcrowd your jewellery box. Crowding can result in misplaced or lost jewellery if a small piece falls unnoticed from the case. Occasionally, forcing too much jewellery into the box may even bend a fragile piece or chip a delicate stone.
  • DON’T use toothpaste as it is abrasive and can damage softer gems and metals.
  • DO let your jeweller check for loose stones frequently
  • DO get pearls restrung when the cord begins to fray
  • DO clean fine jewellery often to maintain its sparkle and beauty
  • DO store jewellery in a dry place and avoid extremes of temperature and humidity.
  • DO remove jewellery before strenuous exercise
  • DO be careful about chemicals in cosmetics, hairspray and perfume. Put your jewellery on last to avoid it being damaged by such products.

Cleaning Tip

Most fine jewellery can be safely cleaned by soaking for 10 minutes in warm soapy water (using a mild detergent soap).

Use a soft brush on harder gems to loosen any dirt around the claws.

To reduce greasy build-up on diamond jewellery, dip it in plain alcohol before soaking.

Caring for Your Jewellery

Be aware that while diamonds are very hard, they are not indestructible—they can still shatter in two with a single well-placed blow. Rubies and sapphires are the toughest gems but even they can chip if hit sharply.

Take special care with opaque gemstones like lapis lazuli, turquoise or malachite, and organic gems such as pearls, coral and amber. These gem materials should just be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. Never use ammonia or any chemical solution—the gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, and they may build up inside the stone and discolour it.

Opals also require special care. Never use ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light which can dry out the water in opals.