Tips on how to take care of your jewelry
Having your jewelry cleaned at least once a year by a professional will help keep it looking its best; at Ethan Lord we will also inspect it for possible wear and tear. Between professional cleanings, however, there are some things you can do to keep your jewelry looking great.
Use a soft-bristled non-metallic brush, a mild cleaning liquid -- we recommend Palmolive -- and water solution. Gently scrub away any grime, especially around the prongs or setting where buildup is likely. Even a clean looking diamond often has a thin layer of skin oil and will shine better after a cleaning. Avoid touching the diamond as much as possible.
Cleaning gemstones is easy. Simply soak the piece in a bowl of warm, soapy water for several minutes and then use a soft, non-metallic brush to remove any grime. If you use a jewelry cleanser, make sure it is non-abrasive. Don’t use harsh chemical cleaners, and don’t clean the item in the sink – we’ve heard too many horror stories of jewelry falling down a drainpipe! Keep in mind some gemstones may have been treated or enhanced by heating, oiling, irradiation or diffusion. Heated and irradiated stones generally don’t require special care when cleaning, but diffused stones could be harmed if scrubbed too hard. Also, the oil on an emerald can be stripped away by cleaning, making the emerald change appearance. If this happens, simply bring it to your jeweler for re-oiling.
The layers of nacre of which a pearl is made are very soft and easily damaged. Since nacre is an organic compound, pearls are easily dulled or even eroded by chemicals and alcohol. Wash cultured pearls in very mild, soapy water and nothing else. It's also a good idea to bring your cultured pearls in for restringing every couple of years, especially if you wear them often.
For mountings, you can use rubbing alcohol to dissolve some of the stickier grime. However, don’t use alcohol on any kind of pearl jewelry. Soap and water and a soft brush will take care of most of your cleaning needs. Make sure the brush is very soft when used on metal, especially gold, since it can be scratched relatively easily. Use a soft cloth that won’t leave fuzz or threads behind to dry and buff your jewelry once it's cleaned.
All jewelry should be kept in closed jewelry boxes and far away from heating vents. Be especially careful with amethysts, colored topazes and pearls as UV-rays make their color less intense. Rubies and garnets should also be protected from the sun.
You should also avoid extreme temperature drops. For instance, ruby can completely lose its color when heated. Never store your jewelry in the bathroom (especially silver jewelry) because all the metals and stones can be harmed by moisture.
While we can resize most rings, different metals are easier to resize than others. Plain gold bands are the easiest rings to resize. White gold plated with rhodium and perhaps other layers of metals can be more difficult, as it may be a challenge to match the original plating. Silver, because it is often rhodium-plated, can also be tricky. Stainless steel and titanium rings are difficult or impossible to resize. Making rings smaller may be easier; some rings cannot be enlarged because they contain an inset stone that would be stressed and possibly crack if the hoop were enlarged.
How the ring is resized depends on how large a change is needed. If the adjustment is only a ¼ or ½ step (US sizes), machines exist that can actually stretch or compress the band, assuming there are no stones. Rings whose cross-section vary widely, and rings with stones, require a machine that uses rollers to lengthen the part of the band without stones.
If a greater change in size is required, the shank will be cut and a section removed or a new section soldered in place by a torch or a laser. Since many rings are manufactured with a join in the first place, we will merely open the shank at the same point. If a ring has been enlarged previously, we will remove the previously inserted piece and insert a longer piece to ensure uniformity. The quality, however, will depend on the jeweler’s skills and how closely the metal of the new piece matches the original alloy. We suggest any jewelry purchased at Ethan Lord be resized at Ethan Lord, so you can be assured of the finest quality.
When picking up a resized ring, examine it closely. You should not be able to tell it was resized at all. The shank should have a consistent shape and color, and there should be no pit marks or other depressions to reveal the location of the join. And, of course, it should fit your finger!
Repairing Your Engagement Ring
Repairing your engagement ring after an accident or simple wear and tear requires expertise and precautions to guarantee proper mending. Most engagement rings are delicate with intricate details on the band and setting. Each part of the ring – the stone, the setting, and the band – is subject to everyday stresses that could require repair.
Diamonds may be among the hardest known substances, but they are not impervious to damage. Other, softer gemstones can more easily be damaged. Most damage to jewels is fairly minor – light scratches or small chips – and can be polished away. Gems with flaws and inclusions can damage more easily than higher quality stones; they can even fracture or split.
In all but the most major cases, flaws can be repaired with filling or coating treatments. Never attempt repairs yourself, no matter how simple they may seem. Without the proper tools and expertise, you can inadvertently cause more damage, perhaps irreparably.
The setting is the most frequently damaged part of an engagement ring. Prong settings in particular are prone to twisting, warping, or shifting that can loosen the stones. For minor repairs, the setting can be repositioned to provide a secure fit, but in other cases it may need to be replaced entirely, perhaps with thicker prongs or a more durable metal such as platinum.
The more intricate the setting, the more prone it is to damage. Pave setting engagement rings, for example, often lose the small accent stones around the band because the setting is not designed for maximum security. At Ethan Lord, we can replace accent stones that pop out, repair loose prongs, and make any other repairs that are necessary.
Repairing Your Band
Every engagement ring’s band will suffer minor nicks and scratches eventually. Most can be polished away but deeper marks may require the ring to be recoated. White gold engagement rings also need periodic recoating with rhodium to preserve their white luster.
If the ring’s band becomes stretched or warped, it will need to be reshaped. Stronger metals such as platinum are less prone to warping, while softer golds (higher carat values) warp more easily. If your ring has warped, have us double check the setting to be sure no stones have become loose.