Duchess Kate Middleton is wearing what, for many, is one of the most iconic jewelry pieces known to humankind: Princess Diana’s engagement ring – a stunning 12-carat Ceylon sapphire and diamond ring that was actually a catalog item.
Interestingly enough, Prince Charles gifted Camilla Parker Bowles what many would deem a far more ‘meaningful’ gift – a family heirloom that had once belonged to one of Charles’s favorite relatives. This is a perfect instance of the different emotions felt by the groom towards his two brides, yet today, Diana’s gift to Kate Middleton is arguably one of the most valued and talked about items of jewelry in the millennium. Whether a piece is passed down to a loved one for the first time or it has spent centuries in a family safety box, it is always an item to be treasured and cared for.
If you have one or more signature pieces of family jewelry you’d like to keep in tip-top condition for the next wearer, what cleaning tips should you keep in mind?
Keeping Gems Sparkling
From sapphires to emeralds and rubies to diamonds, gems are among the most sought-after gifts across the globe, so if you have a piece containing a prized gem or diamond, taking care to keep it free from scratches is key. Some of the main threats to the sparkle of a gem or diamond include oils in the skin, skincare products, and bumps and scratches. Avoid harsh cleaners and ultrasonic cleaners, which can move the diamond in its setting and pose a risk for the gem falling off the piece. You should schedule regular cleanings for diamonds and gems with a professional jeweler. This will not only restore sparkle to your ice and colored sapphire stones, but also look for flaws in the setting that could be scratching the diamond, as well as loose settings that need tightening. Your jeweler may recommend a gentle cleaner you can use at home until the next professional clean is due.
If your family jewelry is made up of silver and you notice that it is tarnished, simply mix a few drops of a very gentle dishwashing detergent into a small bowl of warm water. Dip a soft cloth into the solution, and gently rub any tarnish you find on your silver pieces. You can also clean gold in this way: for pricey pieces in gold and platinum, avoid using toothpaste and a toothbrush. Some bristles can be rough, and in order to avoid scratches, a simple soft cloth works best. If there are gemstones in your pieces, try a solution of dish soap and seltzer water. This will help loosen any debris that may be trapped between the gem and the metal. In cases of stubborn, dirt or grime, you can use a very soft toothbrush with your DIY cleansing solution. Rinse the pieces after cleaning, and dry them so you can perceive their new shine.
Optimal Storage Is key
Keep your heirloom piece in a special jewelry box, ensuring it fits snuggly into a dedicated space. Pieces should not touch each other to avoid scratching. Keep chains fastened to reduce entanglement, and create a color-coordinated scheme of items if possible so you know exactly where you need to go when you wish to wear your special piece.
Family jewelry collections have a value that ranges beyond the material. Many jewelry owners keep their pieces stored away until they find the perfect person they wish to share great value with. Because your heirlooms may be kept away for many years until they are given away, ensure they are stored in a box and that they are far from any other pieces (so as to avoid scratches). Clean jewelry regularly, and for expensive items such as diamonds and gems, opt for regular professional cleaning.