1. Care for your jewelry regularly.
Normal wear and tear can wreak havoc on your valuables, so it’s important you care for your jewelry properly. It may be January, but if you have any plans to vacation this winter or live in a warm-weather destination, it’s important you’re careful with heat and light. Over time, some gemstones such as amethyst and topaz can fade or damage with excess exposure. Pearls and ivory tend to bleach under extreme exposure to light. They can also crack, dry out and discolor. Other gems like amber can actually darken over time when exposed to too much light. Sudden temperature changes may also fracture some gems.
Stay away from cleaning your jewelry with chemicals which can discolor precious metals like gold, silver or platinum. It will also permanently damage the surface of pearls and gemstones like turquoise. Always remove your jewelry before swimming in chlorinated water and before using any household cleaning items. Use ultrasonic cleaning machines with caution and some jewelry should simply never go into an ultrasonic cleaner. Best way to clean jewelry? Warm water with mild, gentle dish soap (no detergents)! Always use a soft brush and rinse in water. Pearls can easily scratch, so handle with care. Lay them out on a soft towel to dry. Don’t touch your strand until your hands are completely dry. Jewelry should be cleaned frequently.
If you are unsure how to do this properly, visit your jeweler and they will clean it at no charge!
2. Safely store your jewelry.
How many times have you left your ring out on a counter or thrown several of your pieces together? Do that, and you are asking for scratches and dents. Keep the pouches and jewelry boxes your jewelry came in, which is the perfect place to keep them. Don’t keep several pieces together. If you received sterling silver jewelry, keep it in an anti-tarnish bag or cloth. If you purchase a jewelry box, make sure all of your jewelry is kept separately in padded slots for rings; posts for earrings; and individual hanging areas for necklaces and bracelets.
3. Make sure you have the proper insurance.
Depending upon the value of your jewelry, what happens if it becomes lost or, worse yet, stolen? There are companies which specifically handle jewelry like Jewelers Mutual Insurance and many people will consider adding their valuables to their current homeowner’s policy. It’s important to know what your homeowner’s policy will cover, and if there are any specific replacement issues, then weigh the differences between this and an insurance company specializing in jewelry insurance. For example, your homeowner’s policy may cover the value, but may designate where you can get the piece replaced versus the jeweler of your choice. Understand exactly what the policy covers. If you’ve already insured your pieces(s), make sure you keep the policy up to date as your jewelry changes in value over the years.
4. Secure a formal appraisal.
Appraisals are obviously not necessary if the jewelry you purchased was inexpensive. But, if your piece is of significant value (enough so you would want it insured), you need to make sure you have an appraisal. Not all appraisals are created equal. If you purchased valuable jewelry and didn’t receive a formal appraisal with your purchase, simply contact your jeweler to receive one. Make sure the jeweler or appraiser uses official business letterhead with their contact information in case your insurer has questions. Ask your jeweler or appraiser for their credentials. Not just anyone is qualified to give appraisals. Don’t know where to start? Check American Gem Society, the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers or Gemological Institute of America for a list of qualified appraisers. Because jewelry value fluctuates, you’ll want to make sure you appraise your jewelry more often than you think. Some recommend as often as every eighteen months. Without a doubt, you should not wait any longer than five years. Make sure your appraisal has an in-depth description of the piece; type of metal and gemstone; any side or additional stone information; if it’s a diamond, it should include cut, clarity, color and carat weight, and then of course, the appraiser’s monetary value. We at Walters & Hogsett provide complimentary appraisals for pieces that were purchased from us.
5. Check your jewelry regularly.
Because most fine jewelry is delicate, make it a point to bring your jewelry back to where you purchased it or, if you’ve moved, make sure it is taken to a reputable, independent jeweler for regular check-ups. Prongs can become loose; natural wear and tear can cause fractures only a trained jeweler will be able to detect, not apparent to the naked eye. We recommend you have your jewelry checked every six months.