This week I have a couple of simple tips for taking care of jewellery.
Dealing with oxidation:
Some metals such as silver and copper change colour slowly when exposed to air. They darken and can even go completely black with time. Gold, palladium and platinum don't tarnish in this way, but alloys which mix silver and gold, like 9ct gold can.
The best way to stop sterling silver and 9ct gold from tarnishing is to wear your jewellery. The natural oils in your skin will keep the metal from tarnishing in the air.
Putting items away in a box will help to slow the process, but if you leave something for a longer time it will slowly darken.
If you have a piece of jewellery which goes dark then a clean with a polishing cloth like the one below should restore the shine.
Gems vary hugely as to how fragile they are, and some require much more careful treatment than others.
There is an official scale called Mohs, which rates gems in terms of hardness. Diamonds of course are at the top of the scale with a score of 10. Sapphires and Moissanite aren't far behind with a score of 9, labradorite and opal come in at about a 6. Softer stones are more likely to scratch or break, so it's best to take a bit more care.
I would generally advise keeping all gemstones away from harsh chemicals and cleaning agents. Wipe with a damp cloth if required.
Milky opal and moissanite rings
I would also advise taking any stone set ring off when you do the washing up, or any kind of messy, manual work, but in particular don't wear a soft stone like an opal or labradorite.
The type of setting used for the stone will also determine how protected it is, and it's worth taking a bit more care with more fragile settings like claws which leave the stone more exposed.
Claws and pave settings in particular, as well as other styles will slowly wear away, so it's worth having this checked occasionally to see if any of the claws need to be replaced.
Old cuts of stones such as diamonds can be difficult to replace, so if you inherit or buy an old piece of jewellery it's worth having your ring checked by an expert before you lose a stone.