How to look after your jewellery
Most of us have a mix of jewellery. If we are lucky we have some really good pieces in gold perhaps set with precious stones, and ironically the ‘good stuff’ can be the easiest to look after. Most of us will also have some cheaper jewellery that might be silver or gold vermeil that we wear a lot but perhaps change to match our jewellery for different outfits. And then we probably have some the really fun stuff that we don’t expect to last, but maybe we bought to go on a summer holiday or just for a bit of bright colour.
Quince jewellery mostly falls into the good but not best jewellery category – jewellery that is well made to last but not too precious to take on holiday or buy for a friend.
So let’s take a little look at the different categories and the kind of care they need.
Gold Jewellery – gold that is 18carat or more should need almost no looking after as it is very inert, which means that it will not react with acid in the air or tarnish. However, gold is very soft and so can scratch easily. You can have it re-polished if you want to restore a high shine. You’ll do quite well with a soft jewellery polishing cloth, or you can take it to a professional who can put a higher shine on it. For antique jewellery or your engagement ring or any other rings with claw settings, do check them occasionally to make sure the setting has not worn thin or that a claw has snagged or moved.
Gold vermeil – this is silver jewellery that has been plated with a layer of gold. Most of Quince Jewellery’s gold jewellery is vermeil It is classified as demi-fine and is safe for most people with allergy issues. Again because the metals are quite pure you shouldn’t have any trouble looking after this jewellery, an occasional soft buff with a cloth is all it needs if you haven’t worn a piece for a while. One word of warning – don’t polish too hard! Because the gold is a relatively thin layer you don’t want to rub it off. For this reason gold vermeil is great for earring or necklaces but less satisfactory for rings or bracelets. Sometimes this wear just adds to the charm of the piece and you might not mind as it is still silver underneath, but if it bothers you most of gold vermeil jewellery is quite easy to have re-plated with a new layer of gold.
Gems and Stones – most gemstones are quite resilient. They are formed in the ground with heat and pressure and so will take most of the abuse you throw at them! Gemstones are measured on the Mohs scale for their hardness, with diamonds then rubies and sapphires being the hardest. Some gems like opals and pearls are quite soft, which is why we would never recommend them for rings.
Silver – silver actually comes in many different levels of purity – like gold. Maybe that is another story for another day, but good quality silver, sterling silver is 925 parts silver and 5 parts of another base metal. This silver will not leave black marks on your skin and will only tarnish slowly or if left unworn for a long time. However this is easy to restore with a polish either just with a soft cloth or a bit of silver cleaner. If it is a gem set piece of jewellery rubbing is preferable to silver cleaning in a solution, as the chemicals can be a bit harsh on some gemstones. The reason your silver can tarnish is the air is slightly acidic which with time will turn a little of your silver to silver oxide.
Silver plate or gold plate – we don’t make this kind of jewellery as the silver or gold is usually a thin layer on copper or brass. It is this mix of metals that can give some people an allergic reaction – again too much wear or too much polishing is just going to rub that silver away more quickly.
Soft cloths or pouches – this can be a good way to store your jewellery and keep it in perfect condition. We quite often use microfibre cloths if we want something bigger or those little cloths out of your spectacle case if you want a handy polishing cloth. Both are soft and with no abrasive surface to damage the surface of a fine metal or gemstone.
Avoid tangles - fine chains should be kept separate. They can be a nightmare if they get tangled, so never put two chains in the same pouch. Use soft pouches or even little plastic zip-lock bags to keep them apart.
Pearls – pearls love to be worn. The oils from your skin feed their natural lustre, but do watch out for perfumes which can really damage them. Find another bit of skin or even spray your hair to keep pearls and perfume separate.
Earrings with posts – here is another one I have learnt from bitter experience. Make sure your stud earring are kept in a small box, especially when you travel. So annoying to find a heavy book or someone’s bottom has landed on your earrings and bent the post. If you make sure the earrings are warm and you do it very slowly you can usually straighten a post – but sometimes they just snap off! Again the pliability of silver and gold is very helpful here, more base metals are much more brittle and less forgiving.