When you notice an anomaly in your favorite piece of jewelry that wasn't there before, you may feel dismayed. Before you raise the alarm, however, take a deep breath and remember that your jewelry is subjected to a lot when you wear it and there is some amount of wear and tear that should be expected.
You want your jewelry to last a lifetime and, with proper care, maintenance, and repair, it can. Using preventative measures, you can remain on the lookout for the signs that may indicate your jewelry is in danger of breaking, many times helping you prevent the breakage entirely. If, however, your jewelry is already showing signs of damage, don't despair; in most cases, your jeweler can repair the item and have you wearing it again in no time.
Our authoritative guide on jewelry repair gives you all the facts you need about jewelry repair. Did you miss it? Read it here: The Savvy Shopper's Guide to Jewelry Repair
All Jewelry Requires Maintenance
Even the most durable stones and metals used in jewelry are delicate. Not even diamonds, which we're told are forever, can claim to be indestructible. Without proper cleaning, care, and maintenance, your cherished jewelry can erode, tarnish, chip, break, and more. You can, however, take precautions to limit your jewelry's exposure to some of the elements that increase your risks of damaging or, worse, losing your favorite pieces.
Inspect Your Jewelry
Before you put on any piece of jewelry, you should inspect it for signs of damage or wear. By following these steps, you should be able to identify the visible, and even the less evident, signs that your jewelry needs repair:
If your jewelry contains gemstones, look closely at the prongs to see if any of them are bent or broken.
Gently touch the tip of a toothpick to the stone or stones to check for movement and ensure that it's secure.
For rings, look at the shank (the section that sits near your palm) for any signs of wear or damage such as discoloration.
Look closely at chains and bracelets for any broken links.
Check clasps to make sure they are closing securely.
Look for any signs of discoloration, which could indicate metal fatigue or erosion.
This process need not be lengthy and will help to protect you from potential loss or further damage.
Insure Your Jewelry
Jewelry is more than just an accessory; it's an investment. As with any investment, you'll want to go beyond merely protecting it and plan for the possibility that it may, no matter how vigilant you are, become lost or damaged. Whether you cover your jewelry under your homeowner's policy or with specialized jewelry insurance, you'll find a level of comfort in knowing that your investment is protected.
You'll need to discuss your coverage options with your insurance broker to select the plan that is best for your jewelry. Your jeweler may also be able to provide you with recommendations and any necessary valuations required for your insurance plan.
Daily Jewelry Maintenance
No matter how much you love and want to show off a prized ring or necklace, it's essential that you remove these items whenever you engage in an activity which increases its risk of damage. If you're playing sports, hiking, or even spending a day at the beach, leave your jewelry at home to minimize its potential exposure to damage.
Sources of damage don't just lurk outside the home; washing dishes, showering, doing housework, and even sleeping with your jewelry on can increase its risk of breakage. While it may seem bothersome at first to remove your everyday jewelry for these ordinary activities, it will become second nature once you've made it a habit.
If you regularly wear your jewelry during high-impact activities or it's been exposed to cleaning chemicals, lotions, sunscreens, salt water, chlorine, or extreme weather conditions, schedule a cleaning and inspection with your jeweler to assess any potential damage.
Learn even more about jewelry maintenance here: The Everything Guide to Jewelry Cleaning and Storage
Jewelry Requires Regular Inspections
While most jewelry can be brought in for inspection annually, items that are worn daily, such as engagement and wedding rings or your favorite necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, may be better served by more frequent inspections. Because rings and bracelets can be hit or snagged multiple times per day, they are more likely to be the recipients of damage than other jewelry that is worn away from your hands.
You should inspect each piece of jewelry before putting it on each day for any noticeable damage or signs of wear, but some damage is only seen under a jeweler's loupe or microscope. When you purchase each new piece of jewelry, your jeweler should discuss the proper maintenance schedule for inspection and cleanings.
What to Expect During a Jewelry Inspection
When you bring your jewelry in for inspection, your jeweler will assess your items for safety, damage, cleanliness, and signs of wear. They'll look for problems that could lead to loss or damage of any gemstones, such as broken, bent, or worn out prongs. They'll also check to see if all of your stones are secure. Metals will be assessed for any signs of fatigue or erosion, and any links or clasps will be scrutinized for signs of weakness.
Professional Jewelry Cleaning
While a professional cleaning will bring the shine back to your jewelry, it also removes accumulated dirt that could lead to damage over time. Your jeweler will always manage to clean your jewelry more thoroughly than you can at home because they use tools that the average person does not have access to. If necessary, your jewelry will be polished, though your material and the condition of the metal will determine the frequency of this. Next, your jeweler will typically immerse our jewelry in a cleaning solution and ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. Not all jewelry can withstand these vibrations or chemical solutions, and your jeweler will use alternate methods if your items are not candidates for this method. A steam cleaning follows, removing any remaining particles that could dull your sparkle.