How to Care for Fine Jewelry

Fine jewelry pieces are among life’s most treasured possessions. Whether it’s a gift given to honor a special milestone, celebrate a birthday or holiday, or as a family heirloom, acquiring jewelry you love could very well mean you’ll be keeping it for a lifetime. 

It’s also important to know how to care for these special pieces from the moment you receive them. With the right attention, they can sparkle for generations to come! 

Cleaning Fine Jewelry 

The simplest and easiest way to keep your new baubles sparkling clean is to wash them in warm water, using mild soap and a soft-bristled children’s toothbrush to gently remove dirt, oils, and lotion around the gemstones. 

Depending on the stone, you could add a tablespoon or two of ammonia to a quarter cup of water along with the mild soap. (Ammonia gives a knockout sparkle, but is good only for sturdy stones like diamonds, sapphires, and rubies. Check first to make sure your stone is durable enough for ammonia.) Soak your jewelry for a few minutes, then brush gently. Allow ample drying time, using a soft terry cloth.

For pearls, take it easy and never soak a strand in liquid. Instead, wipe each pearl with soft cotton dampened with the solution above, minus the ammonia. Let them dry overnight. 

Most silver jewelry can be polished with a light touch with silver polish from the grocery store, then rinsed gently. Avoid getting polish on any stones, and do not use toothpaste or other abrasive cleaners, as they will scratch.

Jewelry Repair

From the time you receive your new or heirloom jewelry, you should inspect and clean it regularly to make sure it stays in good repair—especially important if you plan to pass it down to other family members. 

If you’re checking any kind of jewelry at home, what should you look for? Small cracks, obvious dents or marks, weak or broken clasps, cloudy finishes, and loose stones or beads should be fixed by a jeweler soon. Putting repairs off could lead to further damage. 

Some of the most common potential jewelry repairs to check for, according to Lane Mitchell Jewelers in Manitou Springs, Colorado are:

  • ring repair
  • retipping or rebuilding prongs
  • checking and tightening stones
  • ring sizing and soldering
  • chain or clasp repair
  • stone replacement
  • polishing and cleaning

Why Your Fine Jewelry Should Be Appraised Regularly 

The value in having an up-to-date appraisal for your treasured jewelry is knowing its replacement value in the event that it is lost, stolen or damaged. This is important because the value of gemstones and precious metals may fluctuate through the years.

The appraisal can also be used for estate tax evaluation, value comparison, casualty loss, loans, divorce, and collateral purposes. 

What can you expect from a thorough appraisal? A laboratory testing of your jewelry and a report to include such items as: 

  • the content and weight of precious metals
  • a description of diamonds and gemstones 
  • an internal diagram that shows any inclusions (natural marks) in diamonds
  • a color photograph
  • the appraised value of your jewelry

Keep an Inventory of Your Jewelry 

Why should you keep an inventory of your jewelry? If it’s lost and recovered, you’ll need a photo of it to prove that it’s yours; and if it’s never found, you’ll also need that photo to file an insurance claim. And if you have a large collection, having an inventory will help you keep track of every piece. 

These tips should help with that process: 

  • Dedicate an album on your phone or create a bound version with a notebook, and take two pics of each piece of jewelry – one close up and one with you holding it near your face, to prove your ownership. Add pics of receipts or appraisals, and make sure your phone is super-secure! 
  • Download this jewelry inventory template to describe and record other info about each piece.
  • Or, create a spreadsheet to document: jewelry type, appraised value, description, date you bought or received it, and ID number, if possible. 

Insuring Your Fine Jewelry

It’s important to note that owners of fine jewelry are not automatically covered for those pieces on their home insurance policies. Jewelry coverage may be added via Scheduled Personal Property coverage. Your local Colorado Farm Bureau Insurance agent will help you find the best coverage and answer any questions you may have. To find the agent nearest you, use our Agent Finder.