We look into what’s needed, from insurance to cleaning and upkeep
Your home always looks so much better after a spring clean. Once you’ve given the windows a wipe down and taken out the recycling, the whole place can feel brand spanking new. It’s exactly the same with jewellery: a buff here and a polish there works wonders to brighten up dull, tarnished treasures. And, just like tidying up the house, a regular dose of care and consideration is the key to stopping things getting into a mess. So, what does it take to keep your jewellery looking as sparkling as it did when you first put it on?
Julia Black of James Brown & Partners has this sage advice: “Your rings have been made to be worn and enjoyed – just remember that they’re not indestructible!” So if you’re planning on doing any heavy work, it’s best to take them off before you get started. “If you’re gardening or embarking on some DIY, I’d suggest taking them off and keeping them somewhere safe until you’re finished,” recommends Julia. “Even if you’re just doing the dishes, remember to remove your rings,” she adds.
Even beauty products can take their toll. “I’d recommend removing rings before applying hand cream, moisturiser and body lotion or when spraying on perfume or aftershave,” says Frances at Chisholm Hunter’s workshop. The reason? These can all leave a coating on the gemstones and can cause the metal to tarnish.
There are a few steps you can take at home to keep your gems sparkling and looking good. “Clean your jewellery regularly with diamond cleaner or warm water with mild soap,” advises Richard Laing, director of Laing Edinburgh. “Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove the build-up of hand creams and oils, before drying each item with a soft cloth.”
It’s also worth buffing your rings with a metal-specific microfibre jewellery cloth to maintain their high polish and shine too. Taking care of your jewellery is not just about maintaining good looks; it is priceless to you in sentimental terms, but you can also expect it to increase in monetary value as the years pass, particularly if it is undamaged.
Richard sounds a note of caution, though: “The value of your jewellery can increase at a faster rate than your insurance generally allows. So it’s important to get these pieces revalued approximately every three years to ensure you are fully covered should the worst happen. You can normally list rings under household insurance but some independent jewellery insurers offer great value for peace of mind.”
There is a lot of misinformation out there about which methods to use. For example, you might be thinking of plunging your pearls into water for a quick rinse. Step away from the tap! This could damage them beyond repair. “Don’t listen to old wives’ tales about what to use,” warns Julia. “We’ve heard them all: vodka, gin, whisky, toothpaste, even putting them in the dishwasher. No!”
Some jewellers offer a free cleaning service. “At James Brown & Partners, we check the whole ring over to make sure all the stones are secure and that there are no signs of wear or damage. If all is well, the clean takes about five minutes – and the result is amazing!” says Julia.
If you haven’t kept up a regular cleaning routine with your rings, it’s still possible to restore them to their former glory –and all within the space of a day. “We offer a same-day polishing and rhodium-plating service for £20 so you don’t have to be without your rings for more than a few hours,” explains Julia. “Rings normally require polishing or plating once a year, and it’s a nice thing to do for an anniversary.”
Popping back to your jeweller every now and then is the best way to ensure your valuables are well taken care of and kept in tip top condition. “It lets us see that the stones are gripped securely and gives us a chance to polish out any minor scratches,” says Richard.
While this work is being carried out, the jeweller will ensure the rings still fit properly – you’d be surprised at how even small changes in your weight can make rings feel too loose or too tight on your finger. It’s usually quite straightforward to have them altered to feel more comfortable. There is much else a jeweller can do to enhance and prolong the life of a ring. “We can redesign and remodel it, repair it, replace stones and reset them, and much more,” says Frances. With a little care and attention, it seems, your rings will shine bright forever!