The Care of Your Fine Jewelry
 
Karat Gold          Platinum          Sterling Silver          Precious Gemstones          Semi-Precious Gemstones          Opals
 
 
 
 
 
Karat Gold:
 
Karat gold jewelry includes a variety of colors and karat values.   Some commonly used colors are yellow, white, rose, and green gold.   In America we generally use 10K, 14K, and sometimes 18K gold.   Unlike sterling silver jewelry, gold does not tarnish easily.   It also holds a polish better than the other metals commonly used for jewelry.   Today, most white gold is rhodium plated.  This plating will wear off with normal wear, or when the piece is polished, and may occasionally require re-plating.
 
  • Beware of the halogens!  This family of the elements includes fluorine, chlorine, bromine, or iodine.   All of them can permanently damage or discolor your gold jewelry.   These elements can make your gold more brittle.   They are the most common cause of broken prongs.   Chlorine is the one usually found around our homes.   Do not wear gold jewelry while using chlorine bleach or while swimming in a pool or hot tub if you can avoid it.   But this warning must be balanced with the risk of misplacing your jewelry or having it stolen.   Example: If you are staying at a motel it is probably safer to wear your ring while going for a short dip in the pool, rather than leaving it in your room and risk having it stolen.
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  • Do not allow your jewelry to come into contact with Mercury!   The gold will dissolve the mercury.   It will appear as if the mercury has discolored the ring, but what it is really doing is soaking into the ring.   If you leave the mercury in contact with the gold long enough, it will soak all the way through the ring, turning it completely silver.   If this happens to you, do not wear the ring any longer.   Mercury is poisonous, and you should not try to fix it yourself.   Give us a call, and we will be glad to help you with this problem.
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  • For most gold jewelry, a sonic or ultrasonic machine is the most effective form of cleaning because it can get into the places that a brush cannot reach, but you should definitely consult with us before you purchase or use one of them.   They can be expensive and there are some things that you should never put into an ultrasonic cleaner.
     
  • We recommend that you have your prongs checked and get a professional cleaning every six months.   This service is complimentary at GB Jewelers.
       
    • You can remove tarnish with a mild tarnish remover.   I prefer Hagerty’s. Grease can be removed from karat gold jewelry by dipping the jewelry into rubbing alcohol, or by using a little lighter fluid with a toothbrush.   After removing tarnish or grease, you should always clean your piece well using soap, water and ammonia, if you have it.   Then, rinse the piece thoroughly.   Again, check with us about jewelry with gemstones other than Diamonds, Rubies, or Sapphires.   Some stones require special cleaning procedures.
           
        Platinum:
         
        Platinum is in the family of elements called the “Noble Metals”.   Nickel and palladium are also in this family and are often used to make white gold white.   Metals are considered noble if they are resistant to chemical reaction.   Platinum is one of the most noble elements on the face of the earth.   That is why it is the preferred metal by those who suffer allergic reactions to other metals.   It is particularly resistant to oxidation (tarnish), so if you wear platinum you do not have to worry about getting it into bleach or other household chemicals.   Platinum is very dense with a six-inch cube weighing as much as an adult man (161 pounds).   It is also highly malleable and ductile.   These characteristics make platinum vulnerable to bending and denting, but very resistant to wear.   I mention this because platinum is a great metal for some designs, but it can turn into nothing but problems for others.   Some designs that can be done effectively in gold become a disaster in platinum.   As you might expect, the reverse can also be true.   Unlike most white gold alloys, platinum holds its color very well, but it will be near impossible to maintain the kind of polish you are accustomed to seeing on gold.   We have decades of experience designing jewelry in all of the various precious metals and we will gladly help you decide which metal will work best for you.
         
        • Platinum jewelry can be cleaned in the same manner as other fine jewelry.
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        • We recommend that you have your prongs checked and a professional cleaning every six months.   This service is complimentary at GB Jewelers.
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        • Platinum jewelry will become scratched or dented with normal wear.   We will buff it when you bring it in to be cleaned and checked, but we cannot restore the polish it had when you purchased it without charge.   To bring platinum to a full polish is very time consuming process.
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        • Platinum prongs are very resistant to wear, but they are more susceptible to bending.   The taller the prongs, the more likely they are to bend with normal daily wear.   If your ring has tall prongs such as a tiffany style crown, keep a close eye on them. Should you see a prong beginning to bend, bring it in immediately so we can correct the problem.
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        • Do not allow anyone to work on your platinum ring unless they are experienced in working with platinum!   Platinum has totally different properties than gold or silver.   The use of gold solder on your platinum ring can ruin it.   If you get an unrealistically low price to repair you platinum jewelry, beware!   Inferior craftsmanship on your platinum jewelry can result in irreversible damage.
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        Sterling Silver:
         
        Sterling silver can oxidize (tarnish) with time, but properly maintained silver jewelry improves with age and develops a lush patina.   This black oxidation develops naturally and is often purposefully used by the designer to create an earthy feel or to introduce an additional color in the piece.   Recessed areas tend to oxidize and remain that way.   Raised areas tend to stay free of oxidation due to the abrasive nature of daily wear.   Silver is very soft and highly polished surfaces are impossible to preserve with normal wear.   Silver is sometimes rhodium plated, which inhibits tarnish.   It also helps to hold a polish.   This plating wears off over time and must be replated to maintain the original look of the piece.
         
        • Clean your silver jewelry with a mild soap and water solution, and dry with a soft cloth.   Dish soap works well.   For more stubborn dirt, you can use a toothbrush.
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        • To remove tarnish, line a pot with aluminum foil.   Add baking soda and boiling water to the pot.   Put your silver jewelry in the solution being sure that the silver is in contact with the aluminum.   Leave the jewelry in the solution until the tarnish is gone.   It should not take a long time.
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        • Store your silver in a cool, dry place if possible.   If you wrap each item in a soft piece of felt or cloth, it will prevent scratches and help reduce tarnishing.   There are tarnish-preventive bags that can be effective, especially if you live in a moist, corrosive atmosphere.
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        • As much as possible, avoid rubbing your silver with anything other than a polishing cloth or a fine piece of felt.   The small fibers in tissue paper or paper towels can cause fine scratches.   GB Jewelers  can provide the proper polishing cloth to keep your silver jewelry looking good.
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        • Make sure your silver is not exposed to light during storage - this can cause silver to tarnish more quickly.   Heavily chlorinated water and some household chemicals can also increase oxidation.
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        Most of the troubles encountered with jewelry are associated with the gemstones.   Those problems related to the mounting will be discussed in the section entitled “General Do’s & Don’ts”, and I highly recommend that you take the time to go over them.   This section will focus on the hazards to the gemstones themselves.
         
        Diamond is the only gemstone that is a pure element, crystallized carbon.   It is extremely durable and more than suitable for everyday wear.   Scratching and scuffing is not a significant problem, because diamonds are still the hardest substance known to man, but there are some things you can do to protect your Diamonds.
         
        • Diamonds are pretty tough, but they do have well defined cleavage planes.   If you do experience damage to your Diamond, it will probably be a chip along one of these cleavage planes.   As you look down on a round stone these planes are directly across from each other, north, south, east, and west.   If a round Diamond is not oriented properly in a four prong crown, it can leave all cleavage planes exposed and vulnerable to damage.   This is a particular problem for center stones that take the lion’s share of life’s bumps and bruises.  Important Diamonds should be set in six prongs.   This will provide substantial protection to all cleavage planes regardless of the stone’s orientation.
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        • Having your prongs checked every six months and built up, if needed, will also provide additional protection for the cleavage planes in your Diamond.
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        Sapphire is hard, tough and comes in every color in the rainbow.   Ruby is a red Sapphire.   Of the commonly used gemstones, Sapphire is the next hardest to Diamond and is even more resistant to chipping.   Diamonds, Sapphires, and Rubies are truly suitable for everyday wear.   Rarely do we see scratches or abrasion on Sapphires or Rubies.   If you find a scratch, this does not mean your beautiful gem has been destroyed.   The stone can be removed and repolished, completely restoring your gem to its original splendor.
         
        • While Sapphire and Ruby rings are most often worn next to a Diamond ring without a problem, you should take note of how they ride on your finger.   If the Sapphire is constantly grinding up against a Diamond, the Diamond can scratch your Sapphire.
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        • On a rare occasion we will see a Sapphire or a Ruby that shows some abrasion at the facet junctions.   If you see this beginning to happen, come in and see us.   We can help you identify what is causing the abrasion, and suggest solutions.
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
        Emerald has come to define the color green and is a member of the Beryl family.   It is not as hard as the other precious gems, nor is it as tough, but it is still more durable than many of the other semi-precious gems.   While I would be hesitant to recommend Emerald for daily wear, we have customers who have successfully done just that.   One of the main reasons that Emeralds are more susceptible to being chipped is that most of them are heavily fractured.   You should assume that all Emeralds have been filled, which means these fractures have been filled to make them less visible.   They used oil in the older stones and are using glass-like substances in many of the newer stones.
         
        • Do not put your Emerald in an ultrasonic cleaner.   It can remove the oil, which will make the fractures in your stone more visible.   You should keep your Emerald away from solvents for oil, like gasoline or lighter fluid.   Detergents with heavy grease cutters can also be a problem.   Like the sonic or ultrasonic cleaners, these items can also remove the oil that is in your Emerald and should be avoided if possible.   If you see a flaw in your Emerald that you did not see previously, it is likely that the oil has been removed from a fracture.   This does not happen frequently, but if it does, we can usually fix it by re-oiling the stone.
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        • Emeralds are about 8 on the Mohs scale.   This is harder than average, but if you have your hands in abrasive material regularly, as you would while gardening, you are likely to find scratches on the stone as well as abrasions on the facet junction.
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        • Heavy manual work does not mix well with Emeralds.   Avoid activities where your Emerald is likely to be bumped or battered.  Because they are often heavily fractured, they can chip more easily than many other gemstones.
         
         
        Semi-Precious gems include all gems other than the precious gems.   Rather than listing and discussing them individually, I am going to list some of the properties and characteristics that should be considered when caring for them.   This is not intended to be a complete accounting for all of the semi-precious gems, but rather a brief overview that will cover most of the problem areas the average person would likely encounter.   I have included the precious gemstones so that you can compare them with semi-precious gems.   If you do not see your gemstone listed, you can always ask us about any special care that might be needed for your particular gem and we will be happy to help you.
        Hardness
         
        This property refers to how easy it is to scratch a particular stone.   There is the 1-10 Mohs scale for measuring hardness, but has limited usefulness for the jewelry wearer.   So for the purpose of our discussions, I will not refer to it.   It should be noted that there is a fairly strong relationship between the hardness and the price of a gemstone; the harder the gem, the higher the price.   Soft gems will scratch with normal wear, but they are generally less expensive, and therefore easier to replace.
         
        • Very Soft Gemstones – These stones are best suited for earrings or pendants.   If you do wear one of these gems in a ring, even for occasional wear, they will likely have to be replaced from time to time.   They will scratch with normal day-to-day wear.   Some of the commonly used gems in this category include Apatite, Coral, Chrome Diopside, Nephrite Jade, Lapis Lazuli, Moonstone, Opal, Cultured Pearls, Turquoise, and Zircon.   Opals are the most expensive of these gems, and in most cases repolishing them is less expensive than replacing them.
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        • Soft Gemstones – These stones are best suited for earrings or pendants, but may be suitable for rings for occasional wear.   If you do wear one of these gems in a ring on an every day basis they will likely have to be repolished or replaced from time to time.   They will scratch if you have very active hands or wear them everyday.   Some of the commonly used gems in this category include Agate, Garnet, Iolite, Jadeite, Peridot, Tanzanite, Tourmaline, Amethyst, Citrine, and all other Quartz.
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        • Medium to Hard Gemstones – These stones are appropriate for all types of jewelry.   They are suitable for everyday wear, but if you have very active hands, scratches and abrasion at the facet junctions may appear over a period of years.   Some of the commonly used gems in this category include Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Emerald, all Beryls, Spinel, genuine Topaz (Citrine is often called Topaz, but it is actually a Quartz), Chrysoberyl Cat’s-eye, and all other Chrysoberyls.
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        • Hard Gemstones – These stones are appropriate for everyday wear in all types of jewelry.   They are suitable for even the most active hands.   I have seen scratches and abrasions at the facet junctions on these stones, but very rarely, and it is generally the result of some very unusual circumstances.   Generally, these stones can be worn a lifetime without showing a scratch.   This category is comprised of Diamond and all Sapphires, including Ruby.
        Toughness
         
        This property refers to how easily a stone chips, cracks, or cleaves.   As with hardness, there is a strong relationship between toughness and the price of the gemstone--the tougher the gem, the higher the price.   Some gems are more likely to chip, crack, or cleave with normal wear, but they are generally less expensive, and therefore more replaceable.  Opals, for instance, would be more expensive if they were not so susceptible to scratching and chipping.   Please note that hardness and toughness are two completely independent properties.   One stone may be very soft, yet very tough.   Nephrite Jade would be an example of this.   Another gem might be quite hard, yet not be very tough, such as Emerald.   And then there is Opal, which is neither hard nor tough.   All character qualities of your gemstone must be taken into consideration when deciding what kind of precautions you should to take for your jewelry.
         
        • Not Very Tough – These stones are best suited for earrings or pendants. If you do wear one of these gems in a ring, even for occasional wear, they can chip.   All it takes is one good bump. Fortunately, most can be replaced at a reasonable price.   Even with the more expensive stones, they can often be repaired by re-cutting.   Some of the commonly used gems in this category include Apatite, most Corals, Chrome Diopside, Emeralds that contain naturally occurring fractures, Moonstone, Opal, Peridot, Tanzanite, and Zircon.   Opals are one of the more expensive of these gems, and in most cases re-polishing them is less expensive than replacing them.
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        • Moderately Tough – These stones are appropriate for all types of jewelry.   They are suitable for everyday wear.   While we do occasionally see gems damaged in this category, it is not common, and it mostly occurs to people with very active hands.   Some of the commonly used gems in this category include Agate, Alexandrite, Aquamarine, Chrysoberyl Cat’s-eye and all other Chrysoberyls, Cultured Pearls, Emeralds that are relatively free of fractures, all other Beryls, Garnet, Iolite, Lapis Lazuli, Spinel, Topaz, Tourmaline, Turquoise, Amethyst, Citrine, and all other Quartz.
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        • Tough – If you have very active hands or if you want to wear your jewelry daily, these are some of the best stones for withstanding everyday bumps and bruises.   Most of the time, these stones can be worn a lifetime without being chipped.   The gemstones included in this category include Nephrite Jade, Jadeite, all Sapphires including Ruby, and Diamond.   Diamond is not quite as tough as the other stones mentioned in this category, but better than the gems mentioned in the previous category.
        Thermal Shock
         
        This property refers to how easy it is for a stone to be damaged by a quick change in temperature.   Some of the commonly used gems that can be affected by thermal shock include Apatite, Opal, Bi-color Tourmaline, and Tri-color Tourmaline.  Apatite and multi-colored Tourmaline are very heat sensitive.   I have seen them fracture when going from room temperature to very hot water from the faucet.   Many other jewelers and I have found out the hard way that putting Opals under intense light for extended periods of time is not a good idea.   It can cause them to fracture.   I have also heard of people fracturing their Opals when they washed their hands in hot water after wearing them outside on a cold winter day.   Stones affected by this kind of fracturing cannot be repaired.
         
        CAUTION:   Opals are not as hard or as tough as other gemstones, so they can be more easily damaged.   Never subject Opals to extreme temperatures (eg. boiling water, freezer).   Thermal shock can weaken or break your Opal.   If you wear your Opal jewelry, it is unlikely that you will subject your stone to temperatures that will cause it to crack.   Over time, an Opal set in a ring will get scratched from normal wear and will need to be repolished.
         
         
         
         
         
        GB Jewelers, Inc.
        Under the Clock Tower
        675 SE Marlin Avenue, Suite 1  /  PO Box 999
        Warrenton, OR 97146
        800-869-1481

        Latitude:  46.159033 / Longitude: -123.9055280
         
         
        Store Hours: 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
        Monday - Saturday
         
        Copyright 1974