Protecting the Family Jewels

Protecting the Family Jewels

The 7 Don'ts of Fine Jewelry Care

Oh, my. The jewelry repairs we get at Alara in Bozeman, Montana. The bent-over prong accompanied by, "But I wasn't doing ANYTHING!" Or, the ring that is completely bent out of shape...sitting on the finger of a hard-working restaurant server, balancing a crazy-heavy tray of dishes. 

So, let's get something straight right off the bat here. Metal, even precious metal (which is partially precious because of its ability to be worked into various shapes by humans), does not BEND without provocation. The wind does NOT blow over your prongs. Rings do not contort out of shape without a force being applied to them. Sorry, but physics tells the truth on these matters. 

Furthermore, the forces that you consider to be "nothing" most likely are interpreted differently by your fine jewelry. Part of caring for your fine jewelry is remembering that generally speaking, jewelry objects are small. You don't need to hurt yourself to really cause quite a bit of damage to the fine jewelry you are wearing. Precious metals and gems are more delicate than the human who wears them.

The Basics for Keeping your Fine Jewelry Safe and Sound

In general, jewelry should NOT BE WORN WHILE:  
--Because fingers can swell during the night, making rings impossible to remove for bathing or other activities in the morning; because prongs on rings can snag on blankets, thus loosening their grip on stones; because necklaces and bracelets become strained, stressed, kinked and broken when subjected to tossing, turning, and body weight. 
--Because chlorine is one of very few chemicals which actually reacts with gold, and eats it away. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and Jacuzzis have very high chlorine contents, which actually wears away your precious metal (that's why jewelry looks so clean when you get out of the pool -- you really wore away some of the metal, thus hiding scratches!). Another reason to avoid swimming in jewelry is because water makes rings fit looser, leading to a possible loss. 
--Because long-term exposure to low levels of chlorine is as bad as short-term exposure to high levels; and because soap, shampoo, and conditioner do nothing nice for the appearance of gemstones or textured metal. 
Doing Housework or Yardwork
--Because you can expose your pieces to every possible negative force: chlorine (from household cleaners), abrasives which can scratch metals and gems (from other household cleaners), violent vibrations which can gradually loosen stones (from vacuum cleaner or lawnmower), heavy lifting which can bend rings and loosen stones, and complete destruction (a tumble through a garbage disposal or vacuum cleaner). 
Working Out
--Because lifting weights (either free or on machines) can lead to bending rings, possible stone loss, the kinking of neck chains, and the breaking of bracelets; because other athletic activities can cause swelling of the fingers, thus making rings dangerous to wear; and because sports can make necklaces, bracelets, and rings instruments of pain for yourself or others.

Is your favorite sport one that involves gripping a piece of equipment? For instance: skiing? Mountain biking? Water skiing? Yeah, that heavy grip, combined with the forces that get transmitted to your hands, doesn't do your rings any favors.

And don't forget "body weight only" forms of exercise! All of those downward-facing dogs and planks are putting a lot of weight on your ring. And also, any activity where a fine neckchain can fall over your chin one moment (when your head is down) and then get stretched across your chin the next moment (when you right yourself) is just a recipe for a broken chain.

Using Hand-Held Tools
--Because of damage to your rings (either through denting, poking, or scratching) or to your fingers or hands. 
Lifting, Pushing, or Pulling Heavy Items or Equipment
--Because of damage to your rings by denting or distorting, and possibly loosening stones; and because of possible damage to your fingers or hands. Think before you lift a heavy suitcase with a hard handle to avoid damage to your rings. Same with a lawnmower, moving furniture, or pushing an appliance into place. All of these activities can lead to jewelry damage.

Remember to Care for Your Fine Jewelry Like the Ladies of Long Ago

With the exception of a few advances that have made the various processes involved in jewelry-making more perfect, the materials used in fine jewelry have not changed. As such, you cannot take a delicate, lacy, filigree ring (much like those worn 100 years ago), and expose them to 21st century tortures such as weightlifting, housework, heavy pulling or pushing, equestrian adventures, CrossFit, and expect good results. Please realize that a lot of the fine jewelry you wear today was of a caliber that only women of means wore 100 years ago. Women of means didn't garden, do their own cooking, do paperwork, or even physically tend to their own children.

They also didn't need to get their jewelry repaired very often.

However, if you do find yourself in need of jewelry repair (perhaps you were unaware of the "Don'ts of Fine Jewelry Care"), our goldsmiths are at the ready to help you. We also have diamond cutters and colored stone cutters for those "whoopsies" that have befallen your precious gems. Contact us today for your jewelry repair needs.

1 comment

  • Patricia Truss

    These hints are very helpful. Ty!

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