Jewelry is worn by millions of people every day, but few recognize how they can preserve their treasures by using some simple advanced planning and thought. Here are some basic guidelines to consider when wearing jewelry:
- Remove Jewelry During Tasks – When performing manual tasks, remove your jewelry to prevent physical damage or exposure to chemicals or cleaning fluids. Some tasks that should be avoided when wearing jewelry include kitchen work, gardening, cleaning the house and other common tasks.
- Put Jewelry On After Applying Makeup – Cosmetics, hairspray, perfumes and lotion can contain chemicals that can often damage jewelry. Putting jewelry on after applying these materials will limit exposure to jewelry and any potential damage.
- Don't Wear Jewelry In Swimming Pools and Spas – Chlorinated water can react with the metals found in jewelry causing color changes and even structural damage. As a result it's a good idea to remove jewelry before entering the pool or spa.
For those that wear jewelry regularly, keeping their jewelry clean and looking good requires regular effort. Here are some general guidelines that may help:
- Use Jewelry Polishing Cloths for Best Results - Polish silver or gold with a jewelry polishing cloth for best results. You can use a svelte or an old diaper, but the professional cloths are the best. Use of tissue or paper towels can cause scratches because of fibers in these products.
- Clean Your Jewelry With Care - Cleaning your own jewelry regularly can keep it looking good, but be careful. You can either purchase commercial cleaners from a jeweler or make a cleaning a solution yourself. Rubbing alcohol can work wonders, but bleach can literally destroy jewelry so avoid it at all costs.
- Use Warm Water to Clean Jewelry - Using warm water is the best bet when cleaning your own jewelry. How water can cause reaction with the cleaning fluids resulting in discoloration and Sterling Silver is especially susceptible to this problem. Should this occur, this problem can be remedied by buffing and the application of a tarnish remover.
Differences between gold plated, gold filled, sterling silver, and vermeil jewelry
Gold-plated: A base metal such as steel or brass is dipped into a bath of electroplating solution, with a lump of solid gold. When an electric current is applied, a thin layer of gold is deposited on the metal. Since the plating is quite thin, the plate (and hence the color) on findings can wear off.
Sterling Silver: is a mixture of pure silver and some other metal, usually copper. The resulting alloy gives the silver strength. The standard is at least 92.5% silver. Hence the .925 stamp you see on some sterling silver items.
Vermeil: (Pronounced: Vermay) is sterling silver that has been gold-plated. Most of our vermeil is plated with 22K-24K gold. This is a good combination for those with allergy to normal, plated jewelry items. The difference between vermeil, and gold-filled, is in the thickness of the gold and the base metal used. In vermeil, the base is sterling silver.
Gold-filled: also called rolled-gold. These jewelry items are not actually filled with gold. They are made of a base metal (usually brass or copper) covered by sheets of gold in a mechanical bonding process. Effectively a thick coat of gold: the gold content is 5% or 1/20 of the total weight. Use gold-filled items for your top-of-the-line jewelry. Usually made with 14k gold, it is hard wearing. With reasonable care it will not peel or flake, and should last as long as solid 14k gold jewelry. It is safe for most people with sensitive skin
Gold jewelry reacts with chlorine. Never take your gold jewelry into a pool or spa.
Allergies: Some people have allergic reactions to some plating.
The most common is nickel-plating- possibly up to 10% of people react to nickel. Unfortunately nickel is used to color gold, as an alloy, and sometimes in the electroplating process. If allergy is a problem, most jewelry makers like to use surgical steel, sterling silver, vermeil, or gold-filled items. The plating on plain electroplated items is usually too thin. A product called "Jewelry Shield" by Newall, which comes from the USA, claims to provide protection for jewelry allergy suffers.
Gold Purity – Karats: The karat is a very old measure of how much gold is in an alloy, or gold-blend. A measure of 1 Karat is where there is 1 part of pure gold and 23 parts of metal alloy - or 4% gold. So 24K is 100% pure gold. 9K is 37%, 14K is 58%, 18K is 75%