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Spring cleaning & Inspection

Spring is trying to be sprung across my state of North Carolina. Typically, it brings on the traditional cleaning, sweeping and dusting (mainly of all the pollen collecting everywhere). Time to air out the linens and unclutter all the items collected through the autumn and winter. It may also be the time to inspect and clean your jewelry.

When was the last time you had the jewelry you wear everyday cleaned? The metals, of which jewelry items are made, silver, gold and platinum are porous metals. They can hold onto the dirt and chemicals, we encounter daily, in the gem settings, small pores and cavities left in the manufacturing process. What other items do you put on and wear daily that do you not clean? Jewelry sits in contact with your skin and should be cleaned often. Do you know how to clean your jewelry?

I would like to address is a myth regarding wedding rings and wedding bands. You can and should remove any and all jewelry if you are engaged in strenuous activities or chores. Have a small dish or jewelry box assigned for holding these when you remove them from your finger. Always put them in the same place when you take them off. Very few jewelry items are made of stainless steel or cast iron. Jewelry metals are not rigid or very strong. They are precious metals which lend themselves to being easily formed and therefore, are also fairly easily bent. The small pieces of metal we call prongs, hold the precious gems in our jewelry. They are prone to the friction of every day wearing and like the tires on your car, need to be replaced or rebuilt when they have worn down. With gold prongs that is about 4-5 years of wear. Tiny pave' style settings are very popular, and those tiny prongs need to be inspected often and repaired as soon as there are any signs of wear, or any gems are loose.

Why should you clean and inspect your jewelry? When a client calls or goes to my website to book an appointment, I always request that they have their jewelry professionally cleaned and inspected prior to their appointment. The reason I do this is because 98% of the items I see for insurance appraisals have repair issues. Insurance companies are risk averse, and their underwriters read the appraisal report to be sure that the item does not put their company at risk for a claim. If an item of jewelry has worn down mounting issues or missing or chipped gems, they will deny you a policy for that item. I have to note the condition of the jewelry which I am appraising and if I say the condition is anything less than good or I comment that there are loose or chipped gems, the insurance company will reject the appraisal.

Here is an example of what I typically encounter. To the left is a lovely platinum Jabel mounting with a solitaire diamond. It was an inherited ring and at first glance it looks fine. Look more closely, the back of the shank has worn thin and there is a chip on the girdle of the diamond. Estate, vintage and inherited rings are going to need some attention before you wear them daily. They have already seen daily wear and like a house that needs a new roof after 10 - 15 years, they will probably need new prongs or a new shank.

This signet ring has seen better days and cannot be worn without a new shank. Earlier attention to the thinning of the shank (band) would have prevented this situation from happening.

Once again, you really should clean and inspect your jewelry. If you want to keep your gems in your jewelry and keep your jewelry forever, you need to attend to the maintenance it requires. Visit your favorite jewelry store at least twice a year. If you don't have one, do shop around for the one who will happily clean and inspect your jewelry for free. They usually stock jars of jewelry cleaner for you to buy, and they will share with you the best way to care and maintain your jewelry items. You can buy a small ultrasonic cleaner and/or a steamer, but it will not have the same power as the commercial ones the jewelry stores have. Unless you have a 10X loupe or a microscope, small damage will be difficult for you to see without magnification. Jewelry is a monetary investment as well as tangible sentiment. It carries our memories, and it deserves the small effort it takes to preserve those memories.

Happy Spring everyone!

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