Your fine jewelry is valuable to you for many reasons. Of course, it’s precious for personal reasons: because of who gave it to you, from whom you inherited it or for the memory of when you treated yourself to that special piece.
It holds monetary value too — value that can either increase or decrease depending on how you care for and store it. Whether you plan to perhaps trade a piece in eventually, have it remade or keep it until you pass it down to the next generation, it’s always going to be important to care for your jewelry so it can retain in its value and stay as beautiful as the day you received it. Jumbling jewelry together in a box or container, only to have to dig for the piece you want, can result in scratched stones and nicked metals. Storing jewelry in inappropriate containers made from the wrong materials or leaving it exposed to air can shorten the life of your favorite pieces and affect their quality as well. Not cleaning your jewelry regularly or — perhaps even worse — cleaning it improperly can damage it as well.
When not to wear
It’s tempting for some to wear a favorite piece of jewelry always, never taking it off to wash dishes, bathe or sleep. Such treatment of your most precious possession can unfortunately shorten its life or put it in danger of being lost. Some tips:
- Remove your jewelry when playing sports or at the gym.
- Don’t wear your jewelry in the pool, spa or sauna.
- Don’t wear jewelry when doing household chores.
- Put your jewelry on after you have finished your hair and makeup to avoid spraying or getting unnecessary amounts of product on it.
- Don’t sleep in your jewelry.
When you do take your jewelry off, store it the right way to extend its life and beauty. A good-quality jewelry box will make your jewelry safer; and more organized, to boot.
- Choose a jewelry box large enough to hold all your pieces.
- Check the box for nails, screws and other details that could scratch your jewelry.
- Make sure the box is lined with soft fabric.
- Confirm that the box has enough drawers and pockets for your needs.
- Check online auctions and antique stores for beautiful boxes and armoires at good prices.
- Consider fabric travel rolls — they’re soft, relatively inexpensive and take up little space in your bag.
- For travel, also consider travel jewelry boxes. They may provide more protection than a fabric roll, depending how many pieces you take.
- Whichever option you choose for travel, if you’re flying, keep it in your carry-on bag. Don’t put jewelry in your checked luggage.
- If you have a lot of valuable pieces that you keep at home, consider a jewelry safe.
- Make sure each piece is not touching any other piece.
- Try wrapping in acid-free tissue paper or fabric.
- Make sure any place you store jewelry is an acid-free environment. Many plastics and wood can contain acid, which will tarnish many metals.
- Craft stores have tiny zip-lock bags that you can use to keep earring sets together and for individual storage of necklaces — they’ll stay separate and tangle-free.
Keep it clean
The best way to make sure your jewelry stays beautiful is to keep it clean. Your jeweler is always a great resource for cleaning your fine jewelry and for advice on jewelry-safe cleaners for specific pieces and materials. If you’re doing it at home:
- Be sure any polishing cloth you use doesn’t have metal-based grit in it. Use cloths made specially for jewelry.
- Use only cleaners recommended or sold by your jeweler, and use cleaners specifically designed for your metal.
- Make sure any chemicals, heat or ultrasonic baths are right for your jewelry. These processes can hurt more delicate stones, like opal.