Store pieces individually. Jewelry should be kept in a box or pouch to prevent scratching. Sterling silver should be kept in an anti-tarnish bag, cloth or sealed bag.
Like pearls, opals draw moisture from the air. Storing your opals or pearls in a dry area, such as a safety deposit box, can actually do more harm than good. When traveling with jewelry, protect the pieces from scratches or other impact damage by padding jewelry.
Exposure to Chemicals and Cleaners
Exposure to chemicals can damage and discolor precious metals – gold, silver, and platinum – and many harm some colored gems. Jewelry should be removed before swimming in chlorinated water or before using household cleaners. Many cleaners contain ammonia, and are only safe for diamonds and more durable colored gems. Chlorine bleach, another common household solvent, can pit gold alloys.
Chemicals and solutions to avoid include: chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones. Petroleum based products can damage amber and pearls.
Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones.
Most jewelry can be cleaned with warm water, mild soap (no detergents), and a soft brush. A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint free cotton cloth can also be used. Be sure to stop the sink’s drain or use a rubber mat in case a stone comes loose from a setting. Make sur you rinse the pieces well after cleaning and dry completely before storing.
Soaking can impact soft stones such as amber, lapis lazuli, or turquoise. Extended soaking in any solution may harm the polish on the stone.
To remove excessive tarnish, polish with a 100% cotton, lint free, cloth and a good nonabrasive metal cleaner. Be sure to remove any remnants of the cleaner from gemstones and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Never use toothpaste.
Soft gems, like pearls, can easily be scratched. Use a clean makeup brush with warm, soapy water. Lay the pearls on a towel to dry completely.
If you use specially purchased jeweler’s cloths to keep your jewelry clean, be sure to use cloths free of dirt and grit.
Exposure to Sun and Heat
Excessive sun light can affect a colored gemstone’s durability and color. It can fade and weaken gemstones such as amethyst, kunzite, topaz and pin conch-shell cameos. Pearls will bleach under exposure to light. Other gems, espcially amber, can darken over time when exposed to too much light.
Excessive heat and sudden temperature changes may also impact gemstones. Heat can easily remove the natural moisture some gems need to keep their beauty. Pearls, for instance can dry out, crack and discolor. Opals will turn white or brown, developing tiny cracks, and might lose their play of color.
Gems Requiring Special Care:
Opals require special care. Never use an ultrasonic, never use chemicals and avoid heat. Don’t put your opals on the window sill as strong light can dry out the water in opals which could cause hazing and color change.
Pearls. Protect from scratches, perfumes and household chemicals which can wear away the nacre or cause color changes.
Soft stones like lapis, malachite, turquoise, amber and opals can easily be scratched by other jewelry. Protect pieces by storing individually.