Myths & Truths

Caring for your Jewellery 

General Care

  • Take care of your jewellery and it will shine for years. Each piece of jewellery is individual, but as a general guide the National Association of Goldsmiths advises:
  • Gently rub gold and silver jewellery with a soft, clean cloth to maximise the shine.
  • Jewellery set with gems can be brought to life by careful cleaning with a soft brush and soapy water, or with a proprietary jewellery cleaning solution. Try not to get threaded pearl or bead jewellery wet and only wet antique jewellery after specialist advice - you could ruin it.
  • Wipe pearls with a soft damp cloth after wearing to remove perfume, hairspray and anything else likely to damage them.
  • Don’t use abrasive cleaners on jewellery.
  • You can use silver ‘dip’ type cleaners on most silver jewellery - but rinse and dry them thoroughly.
  • Don’t use silver ‘dip’ type cleaning solutions on gold jewellery, only special jewellery cleaners.
  • Take care with delicate stones, ask your jeweller for advice if unsure.
  • Keep jewellery carefully stored and separated - not jumbled together in a draw.
  • Keep chains fastened so that they don’t get tangled up.
  • A professional should check jewellery for damage or wear, on a regular basis.
  • Make sure you have a detailed insurance valuation for your jewellery. As a rough guide, the description in a professional jewellery valuation will be detailed enough that a jeweller could use it draw a pretty accurate sketch of the item.
  • If in any doubt about the care, repair or valuation of your jewellery ask the advice of a professional.
  • For the sign of a professional jeweller look for the National Association of Goldsmiths’ Grant-of-Arms.

Cultured Pearls

Cultured pearls are formed inside oysters. As they are of organic origin they are particularly susceptible to damage. For this reason you should treat cultured pearls with great care.

  • Cosmetics including perfume and hairspray should be applied before you put on any cultured pearl jewellery, otherwise the nacre, or skin, can become permanently damaged. After wearing, clean it with a soft dry cloth.
  • Should you need to wash your cultured pearl jewellery, do it with water and maybe a drop or two of detergent. Don’t use any form of chemicals, as they are most likely to damage the cultured pearls.
  • Cultured pearls are soft and any rough treatment such as carrying in a handbag or putting them loose in a jewellery box may also damage them. Wrap them in tissue for protection.
  • Everyday wear, and the natural constituents of your skin can have a detrimental effect on the silk used to thread your cultured pearls. Get a National Association of Goldsmiths’ member to check them regularly. The frequency of rethreading depends on many different factors, but once a year is a good idea.

Silver

Silver is a beautiful lustrous metal, used in making much of contemporary jewellery. It does unfortunately have one downside, and that is tarnish. The modern world and the way we live means there is a lot of sulphur in the atmosphere, this is what causes tarnish. Centuries ago silver kept its polish far longer as there was very little pollution.

Regular cleaning and polishing will restore the original look of silver, but take care not to polish too enthusiastically, as silver is actually removed from the surface. Consult your local National Association of Goldsmiths jeweller for advice on which product to use, and how to use it.

There is available a modern polishing foam that cleans silver without polishing, it even contains a tarnish resistant formula.

Watches

  • Ideally a watch needs to be serviced every year or two (ask your jeweller about your particular brand and model). Some watches will keep going OK for years without needing repair, but don’t risk it, there could be problems of wear building up that will make eventual overhaul more difficult or impracticable.
  • Unless the degree of water resistance is clearly defined or marked on your watch or in the product manual, don't risk wearing it in the shower or pool. ‘Water resistant’ is not the same as ‘Waterproof’.
  • No matter how handy you are, don't attempt any 'do-it-yourself' watch repairs or even take a peek inside. Only an expert watchmaker should be trusted to put your watch back into working condition if there is a problem. 

Hallmarks

Hallmarking is one of the oldest forms of trading standards.  The main principle is that precious metal alloys are marked to show their purity.  This is done through a series of stamps into the gold to make up the hallmark.  These stamps can be a picture, a letter or a number, each having a particular meaning.  This is important because even to the trained eye it is not easy to determine the purity of precious metal in an item.  This gives room for people to miss-sell items as having a higher purity of precious metal than they actually contain.  Hallmarking prevents this by regulating the purity of precious metal items. In the UK only certain purities of gold, silver and platinum are legal for sale.