By Tony Cruz, Senior Manager
Every year, I hear sad stories of how a beach trip or a weekend at the lake ends badly when a cherished piece of jewelry is lost forever. My own family has experienced this heart-breaking scenario. Honeymooners have returned home with one less ring, usually the groom’s, lost in some exotic place. Play it safe when swimming and boating; leave your jewelry on dry land. Jewelry lost in a lake or ocean is almost impossible to locate.
It may be easier to find a lost piece of jewelry in a swimming pool or hot tub, but both are also dangerous for jewelry. Chemicals used in pools and hot tubs cause damage to the alloys in gold and silver jewelry. Softer stones, such as pearls, turquoise, and amber, can also be damaged by a swim in a pool or soaking in a hot tub. Chlorine exposure causes pitting in gold jewelry, which weakens prongs holding those precious stones.
Wherever you go this summer, travel safely with your jewelry. First, insure it. Check with your homeowners insurance to be sure you have ample coverage. Riders may be available for additional jewelry coverage, or separate jewelry insurance may be a good way to ensure coverage. In addition, keep your jewelry with you. Wear it or pack it in carry-on luggage. Never leave your jewelry in an unattended car, checked luggage, or trust your jewelry bag to hotel staff. Be smart; lock your jewelry away in a hotel safe or in-room safe when participating in activities dangerous to jewelry, like swimming.
Summer is a good time to get your jewelry cleaned and checked. Stones can become loose through normal wear and having them checked twice yearly can help prevent the loss of stones. Jewelry stores are usually less busy in the summer months, so it is also a good time to have your jewelry appraised, or existing appraisals updated.
In the heat of summer, it is normal for your rings to feel tighter. If you have difficulty with removing rings due to swelling, don’t panic. Run cold water over your hands to cool them down. Windex sprayed over the finger will ease the removal and clean the stones at the same time. You can also use soap, lotion, or oil, but those will need to be cleaned from the ring. In extreme cases of swelling due to weight gain or medications, rings may need to be cut off to prevent circulation issues. This can usually be done in a jewelry store, unless it is an emergency. In that case, go to the emergency room.
Fine jewelry is meant to be worn and to be passed onto future generations. Daily care will help keep jewelry looking its best for years to come. After wearing, wipe fine jewelry down with a soft, damp cloth before putting away. This will enhance the jewelry’s luster and ensure that is is clean before storage. Jewelers of America recommends “removal of all jewelry before showering, cleaning, applying sunscreen and lotions. These products cause a film to form on your jewelry, making it appear dull and dingy.”
When storing jewelry, keep it away from sunlight and heat. A lined jewelry box or jewelry pouch is best, with individual pieces separated and not jumbled together. This will prevent scratching and tangling of chains. Pearls are soft and can easily be scratched and require extra care in keeping pearl items away from other jewelry. Zip-lock bags are good for storage, but not polyvinyl bags such as trash liners, as they contain sulfur compounds. For more information on jewelry care and cleaning, visit Jewelry Information Center at jic.org.
At JWR Jewelers, we love making our customers’ jewelry shine again. Cleaning and checking jewelry can normally be done while you wait. If repairs are needed, we have a Master Jeweler on staff. Insurance replacement appraisals are performed in-store by our Gemological Institute of America (GIA) trained professionals.
Tony Cruz graduated with a BBA in Management and a Juris Doctorate (JD) from UGA School of Law. He practiced law for 9 years. He has been in the jewelry industry for over 20 years and over 16 of those years full time. He has worked for JWR Jewelers for over 10 years as Store Manager. He is a GIA Graduate Gemologist.