Time to shine
Spring clean your jewelry
• JACOB SHALEV & PENINA HOROWITZ
You’ve just tidied your home from top to bottom. Why not do the same for your accessories?
This is the perfect time to take inventory of your jewelry – and men, that includes watches, cuff links and your wedding ring – and make it sparkly for spring.
Power of organization
You may be keeping your jewelry in a decorative box, in a drawer or stored away as something you hope to “get to” one day. Regardless, most people have pieces they wear often, others they take out on special occasions, and still others they don’t really like, which sit there and gather dust – adding to the agita of the endless to-do list.
Why not take this opportunity to make your jewelry its best self? You may have to soul search: There is that one necklace you happily wear every day, having purchased it on a fabulous vacation to Barbados as a newlywed; yet that bracelet handed down from a relative? Clunky and not your style, it makes you feel guilty every time you glance its way. So…
- Be honest with yourself about the “hametz” that is no longer serving you well, and hold on to only those pieces you actually wear.
- Clean/detangle whatever needs it.
- Assess the put-aside pile and finally deal with it – rework it into something you can wear or gift to a relative; or recycle materials and get value back.
- Reorganize your remaining collection and store it attractively and accessibly, for ease of use.
Clean your jewelry to release its original shine
Start with the most precious: Diamonds.
Diamonds are made to sparkle and attract light – but they’re oleophilic, meaning they attract oils. This includes natural oils from your skin or those picked up from cooking, cleaning, moisturizing and day-to-day life that gather on the diamond’s surface, encouraging dust particles to build up.
Over time, your diamond will eventually look a little less lustrous, and the same can happen within the nooks and crannies of the diamond’s metal setting.
A dose of TLC every few months will combat accumulated dirt and debris. Fear not: This can be simple and done with items you have on hand.
- Grab two small bowls. In the first bowl, combine a few drops of dishwashing liquid with one cup of lukewarm water.
- Place your jewelry in the cleaning solution for five to 10 minutes.
- Remove and gently scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Note: Avoid vigorous rubbing that could cause damage. While diamonds are nature’s toughest material, soft metals like platinum and gold can scratch.
- Fill a second bowl with clean water. Rinse jewelry thoroughly to remove all of the soapy solution, which can leave a residue.
- Pat dry with a clean, lint-free, non-abrasive cloth or tea towel. Do not allow it to air dry, as this can cause spots.
Buffing other precious pieces
Gold and silver jewelry can be cleaned in much the same way.
The same goes for sapphire, ruby or emerald pieces; however, be aware that these gemstones are softer than diamonds and can accumulate scratches, chip or get worn down over time. Be extremely gentle when cleaning your ruby or sapphire, and even more so with an emerald.
Gold-plated jewelry should be handled with care, as gold plating can wear away over time. Rather than dunking them in a solution, keep them dry and gently wipe them with a lint-free cloth to restore shine. To avoid tarnishing gold plate, remove all jewelry before showering or putting on perfume, cream or hand sanitizer.
If you’re wary of home cleaning your precious items, having your jewelry cleaned professionally once a year may be your best option for long-term shine. Pearls are especially sensitive and should only be cleaned in this way; this may also be a good time to find out if they need to be restrung.
Detangling can often be done on your own, but use a soft touch; for nasty knots or when in doubt, bring the item to a professional.
Note: When traveling, jewelry that is liable to snarl should be kept in individual pouches.
Address your ‘no’ pile
Can you repurpose the jewelry – whether stones or setting – in question and rework it into a pendant, eternity band or myriad other pieces? Speak to your jeweler, who no doubt will have ideas based on what you have brought in.
A reworked piece can become a well-loved, stylish addition to your collection or a touching gift to a relative or friend. Writer Penina Horowitz, for her part, cherishes the necklace her parents created with the diamond from her paternal grandmother’s engagement ring and gifted to her on the occasion of their aliyah. Refashioned in a modern, white-gold setting and a delicate chain, it is a standout twist on an heirloom.
Scrap materials for cash/store credit
Sometimes jewelry isn’t salvageable – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. Take the piece in question to a trusted jeweler/dealer, who can recommend how to best sell off the materials (be it stones, gold or silver).
Store your revitalized jewelry collection carefully
• Keep your collection looking its best by storing pieces in a jewelry box with sections for each piece, or individual soft pouches (you can have fun picking out attractive little sacs as well). This will prevent metal from rubbing against metal, gold plate, or harder gemstones which can cause scratches.
• Avoid storing precious metal jewelry in a humid place such as the bathroom, as this will speed up the tarnishing process. If you live in a humid location, take extra care and clean your jewelry more frequently.
Ideally, metal pieces should be stored away from free-flowing air, to slow down tarnish and keep dust at bay.
• If you like displaying your baubles, be aware they’re likely to need more frequent cleaning, so keep an eye out.
Most of all – enjoy it!
Jewelry is meant to be worn, not kept behind glass in perpetuity (except maybe the Hope Diamond). Carpe diem: Sport your pieces with pride, and have a lovely spring!
Jacob Shalev is a diamond dealer who has been in the field for 20 years. To learn more about actualizing this article’s suggestions, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Penina Horowitz adores wearing jewelry.