Fine jewelry is designed to last a lifetime, However, proper care is needed to assure it does. The following are some tips to keep your jewelry protected.

*Have your jewelry checked at least every six months to a year for loose prongs, worn mountings and general wear.

*Prevent scratches to your jewelry by keeping them separated in your jewelry case. Never put your jewelry in a coin case with other coins. The coins will scratch your jewelry! Also by keeping any chain separate will keep them from getting tangled and knotted.

*Always remove your rings and fine jewelry before using any product that contains bleach! Bleach can cause gold and other metal alloys to breakdown leaving the metal irreparably damaged. This includes swimming pools and bathing in hot tubs as chlorine products are added to prevent bacteria growth.

If you normally use specially purchased jeweler's cloths to keep your jewelry clean and shiny, be sure to use fresh cloths since the dirt and grit left on the cloth from a previous use will now leave scrapes and pits in the piece you are trying to clean and polish.

Never use toothpaste or other abrasives to clean metal or stones. You will find countless websites that recommend toothpaste as a cleaner, but this is not an accepted practice by fine jewelers. Although the abrasives in toothpaste are great for your teeth, they can damage the surface of the metal requiring the skill of a professional to buff and refinish. Toothpaste will also scuff the surface on amber, lapis, turquoise and other soft stones resulting in the fine polish which was produced by the skilled lapidary to be permanently marred.

Ultrasonic Cleaners
Ultrasonic cleaners are great for cleaning some jewelry but they can damage many gemstones and the chemicals are not recommended for pearls and many other fine stones. Repeated use can also loosen the settings and you could lose your precious gems.

Other Common Chemicals and Solutions to Avoid
Besides chlorine bleach, denatured alcohol, turpentine, acetone, and ammonia can cause harm. These chemicals can dull or even pit the surface on softer gemstones. Petroleum based products can actually "melt" amber if allowed to remain on the stone and they can do significant damage to pearls.

Gems Requiring Special Care
Opals require special care. Never use an ultrasonic, never use chemicals and avoid heat. Don't put your opal ring on the window sill when washing your hands or the dishes as strong sunlight can dry out the water in opals which could cause hazing or color change.

Pearls. Protect from scratches; perfumes and household chemicals which can wear away the nacre or cause color change. You should wear your pearl jewelry only after applying makeup, perfume, hair products and lotions. Pearls are easily dulled or even eaten away by chemicals and alcohol. Clean pearls after each wearing by gently wiping them with a soft cloth. Never store pearl jewelry along with other items that can cause scratches.

Soft stones like lapis, malachite, turquoise, amber and opals can easily be scratched by pin stems and the edges of other jewelry. Protect pieces with these gemstones by wrapping them in jeweler's tissue and storing separately.