Care Of Your Jewelry
Pearls will vary in quality and price based on the origin, color, shape, size and luster (thickness of the nacre). In the care of your pearls, please remember to always wipe your pearls with a soft tissue before and after wearing them. This will avoid their staining due to body perspiration, because over a period of years this acid can dramatically dull your pearls.
Pearls and coral are a few of the select gems produced by living creatures, thereby making them a very special keepsake. They have a hardness of 2.5-4 on the Mohs' Scale. Never allow them to come in contact with anything which might contain acid. This includes detergents, hair spray and perfumes . Always remove a pearl ring before bathing or washing your hand or doing dishes. Apply hair sprays and perfume prior to putting on your pearls. Do not wear pearl rings, bracelets, or necklaces with other items of harder composition that can come into immediate contact. For example, wearing a bracelet on the same wrist as a gold watch can damage your pearls. The luster of your pearls can be preserved indefinitely by just an occasional cleaning with a specific pearl cleaning solution or by making your own with a mild solution of clear mild soap and warm water. Colored liquid soap can stain your pearl stringing material. Follow this with drying and polishing them with a clean, soft, dry cloth. Never store them loose in a jewelry box with other rings or objects that will scratch them. Store them in their original pearl box or bag for safe storage and keeping.
Pearls (especially half drilled ones mounted on pegs for rings and pendants) need care when worn in very cold weather. The metal peg and the calcium expand and contract at different temperatures which can loosen the pearl cement and can result in a lost pearl. Therefore, wear gloves and cover necklaces while outdoors. Try to warm pearls slowly, avoiding temperature swings such as going in and out of doors many times. Always remember to keep your stringing material in good condition - be it nylon or silk, via the same care as the pearls. We recommend that all major sets of pearls be strung with knots between each pearl to avoid a total loss if broken while wearing them. This simple care will assure you the lasting beauty of your pearls for many years to come. All repairs and refurbishments done to mountings with pearls, require their removal and resetting to avoid damage by a jeweler's torch.
Opals come in many types and colors, with black being the most expensive. They are indeed a very intriguing stone - sedimentary in nature's development. The value is determined by the base color as well as the many varied colors (fire) exhibited. This effect is called "opalescence." The Harlequin opal has major broad fire plates (angular color planes) resembling patches. Opals of this type, having the rarer secondary colors of teal, purple and yellow in combination with the ever popular red/orange and blue/green, are the most valuable.
Opals are the only stone that require feeding! The color and hues are caused by trapped water surrounding mineral materials. This water, if allowed to escape via tiny cracks and natural or percussive fissures, will first result in the lost of the brilliant color saturation and ultimately a very dull looking and crazed stone. Occasionally feed your opals by rubbing body perspiration or mineral oil over the entire stone (including the underside if reachable), to seal in the trapped water. Do not store in areas of extreme heat or cold and avoid open fire or heat from display lights. Opals stored away (in a safety deposit box for example) can crack, then craze and then disintegrate if left unattended for many years. Opal cutters are reminded to never store uncut stones in glycerin, this will dry out the water, as well, even prior to cutting. It is recommended that opal jewelry not be worn for everyday because of their medium hardness (5.5-6.5 on Mohs' scale). Avoid wearing opals with other items that are in immediate contact and much harder because this can scratch the opal. Clean opal jewelry with a mild soapy mixture or in a commercial jewelry cleaner that specifically says it will not harm opals. Dry and lightly polish the opal with a soft cloth, and "refeed" - (re-oil your opal). Do not clean in an ultrasonic or soak in acids such as detergents or nail polish remover. Minor surface scratches can be removed by repolishing the top surfaces with traditional stone polishing techniques.
See Ralph Miller Jewelers, 28 & 30 West 8th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania for your selection of precious black, white, gray, tiger opal, fire opal, and Bolder opal (Australian or Brazilian), in opaques and transparents - and for any lapidary, goldsmithing or custom designing needs!
Rubies & Sapphire
Both rubies and sapphires are from the Corundum family, with a hardness of 9, which is the next hardest to diamonds. Believe it or not, they can come in colors of the rainbow.
These stones will have no problems being cleaned with traditional cleaning techniques unless they have evident cracks, fissures or percussion breaks. Cleaning will be the same as diamonds, an expert job can be realized with an ultrasonic and steam cleaner. A commercial jewelry cleaner along with a soft cotton cloth and/or a jeweler's rouge cloth, can also be used for maximum results.
Most of today's rubies and sapphires are color enhanced by heating in a very controlled environment to allow for uniform and maximum color intensity and saturation.
See a large selection of rubies, Ceylon sapphires, color change sapphires and colored sapphires at: Ralph Miller Jewelers, 28 & 30 West 8th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania.
The emerald is one of the most familiar gems to the jewelry lay person. It is one of the precious stones of the beryl family with a hardness of 7.5-8 on the Mohs' Scale. It is not an everyday wearable type stone especially in a ring, so wear with care. Avoid contact with chemicals, such as hair spray, acetone, hair dye and perms. Do not clean in an ultrasonic cleaner or bleach of any kind. As with other stones, one should try to avoid major temperature changes, so please wear gloves and try not to expose emeralds to direct cold.
Emeralds do come with natural fissures and inclusions called "jardin" which are sometimes oiled to help improve and enhance their visual appearance. Therefore extreme care is needed in selection and care of your keepsake. We suggest a commercial jewelry cleaner to soak your emerald item (but only for a very short time), and use the enclosed cleaning brush to remove all the grime and dirt, especially from underneath the stone. Wipe with a soft jeweler's polishing cloth or soft cotton cloth. Minor scratches can be repolished by a reputable lapidary.
You can select your emeralds (Columbian) at Ralph Miller Jewelers, 28 & 30 West 8th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania.
Diamonds are the hardest stones known to man, hence the greek word "adamas," (unconquerable). They have a hardness of 10 on the Mohs' Scale and are one of the toughest gemstones for wearability. Even though they have the greatest hardness known, they can still be broken by a direct hit or scratched by coming in contact with another diamond. Diamonds have come to signify love because of their great strength and their rareness. In the past, only the nobility could ever afford a real diamond. That was until a very rich and plentiful find was unearthed in Kimberly, South Africa in the mid 1800s. This allowed much more production and thus even more popularity with the world masses.
Diamonds by their very nature allow greases and grime to adhere quickly to all surfaces, so more frequent cleaning is desirable to maximize the stone's true brilliance. Ultrasonic cleaning and steaming are very easy ways to keep your symbol of eternal love bright and clean, so stop in to your favorite jeweler for a free cleaning and mounting check. At home we recommend a reliable commercial jewelry cleaning solution for soaking your diamonds. Make sure to read and follow the directions and use the enclosed small brush to reach those small mounting undercuts and the gemstones pavilion cuts. Do not soak in bleach or other household chemicals, it may not harm the diamond but they may very well damage the gold or platinum that your stone is mounted in. Wipe with a clean dry soft cloth or a jeweler's polishing cloth.
Within the last few years diamonds have become even more inexpensive by the enhancement techniques of "laser drilling" and "quality enhancing" (glass filling). This may seem desirable because of the much lower price point and its ultimate affordability, but it can be a real problem to your repair jeweler. The jeweler needs to be aware of this prior to cleaning, retipping or any other repair being done to the piece. We request that full disclosure should be the standard requirement prior to the execution of any undertaking by your professional jeweler.
At Ralph Miller Jewelers, 28 & 30 West 8th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania, we do not sell laser drilled or quality enhanced diamonds, but only the best, modern cut stones available, featuring polished and faceted girdle stones, with very high quality ranges of VVS1 to SI2, and colors of F - H. We always recommend that you never sacrifice color or quality for size and cut in your diamond purchases. Remember that true brilliance can never be put into the stone after the purchase. The real test of true brilliance is seen only outdoors in natural sunlight.
Quartz, Beryl, & Chrsoberyl Based Stones
These stones have a hardness of 7 - 8.5 on the Mohs' Scale. Some are more brittle than others and care will vary somewhat for these specific stones. You should ask your jeweler at time of purchase. All of the stones listed above can be cleaned while in their mountings with a commercial jewelry cleaner or visit your favorite jeweler for maximum cleaning with an ultrasonic and a steam cleaner.
Know your stones! For example there is a specific name that is used for each of the many colors of the rainbow stone known as tourmaline. Verdelite is the yellowish green tourmaline. All of these stones must be removed from their mountings for retipping and for undercarriage and other repairs near them. They will crack with heat, even though some are heat treated for maximum color saturation. This is done in a very controlled environment and over a long period of time, with no exposure to air.
Coral, Lapis, Turquoise, Jet, Malachite, Pearls, Abalone, Shell, Howlite, etc.
These stones have one thing in common (some are from actual organic living creatures or plants). They are all porous gems and unfortunately can be stained by household acids and chemicals (such as hair spray, etc.), body sweat, dirt and even coffee and sodas such a Coca Cola. These sensitive gemstones should never be put in an ultrasonic cleaner, commercial jewelry cleaners or silver cleaning solutions. The only commercial jewelry cleaning solution that can be used to clean them is pearl cleaning solutions.
All of these gemstones can be simply cleaned with warm water without any added cleaning agents - and then dried with a clean, soft cotton cloth. They usually have a hardness of 5 - 6 on Mohs' Scale, and therefore care must be taken during wear. Avoid abrasive situations that can cause these stones to easily be scratches, abraded or broken.For Gemstone Cutters: Care must also be taken even when cutting these stones to avoid staining by the cutting oils. Some stones are soaked in water for a week or two prior to cutting and polishing. Note: Scratches and small abrasions can be removed easily by standard lapidary procedures, which will allow for maximum luster and enjoyment. If you are unable or worried about cleaning these gemstones and their jewelry, we invite you to stop into Ralph Miller Jewelers & Gallery, where it is always a pleasure to assist you in your cleaning or lapidary needs. You can drop in for free cleaning and inspection at any time – there is never a charge at RMJ for these important "Keep It Clean" customer services. If you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.
In the first step to update your pewter, recognize the surface finish: high polished, satin or brushed. Secondly, remember that pewter is an extremely soft composition of metal. Therefore, in order to recapture the original surface quality, wash by dipping in plain warm water (no chemicals or detergents should be added). Wipe the pewter dry with a soft cotton cloth for the high polished surface finish. For the satin finish, 0000 steel wool can be used to re-establish the soft texture of the original surface. For the brushed surface 000 to 00 steel wool or even fine sand paper can be used. Note: avoid excessive pressure to your pewter item as heavy pressure can dent and damage the surface and the visual line of your piece. Remember to never display or store your pewter in or near intense heat, such as an attic, fireplace, heating register or in a window receiving very warm direct sunlight. To do so will result in misshaping and will ultimately lower the inherent value of your pewter items. Do not clean in a dishwasher!
The sterling stamp is usually found on the bottom of the items. It will say "sterling", ".925" or "sterling silver." If it does not then it is NOT sterling but silver plate. Your next step is to recognize if your flatware is weighted (handles of knives, forks, spoons are often filled with sand or some other material), if they are, remember that dipping in cleaners can cause seepage and discoloration at the joints, so please follow the directions on your commercial silver cleaner. The 10 inch silver dip containers work extremely well for cleaning flatware. Do not clean in a dishwasher.
Secondly, recognize if your items have been lacquered. If they have been stored for a long period of time and are still very to somewhat bright then lacquer has probably been applied. This will require no silver dip or silver polish to be used, but only dipping in warm water - then wiping and drying with a soft cotton cloth or jeweler's polishing rouge cloth. Remember that lacquered surfaces can be damaged by hot water, open flames, excessive heat and chemicals during storage or display. Do not use any items of lacquered silver as an ashtray. If your sterling items are very dull to dark black, they will need to be cleaned by any recommended commercial silver cleaner that uses an anti-oxidation chemical to remove the heavy layer of oxidation present.
Please follow the directions exactly as outlined on your silver cleaner's container, for example, use in a well ventilated area. Wipe dry and polish with a soft cotton cloth or jeweler's polishing rouge cloth. An old traditional way of cleaning tarnished silver items, prior to the invention of modern day cleaners, was to save the water from boiled potatoes, and drop in your items. Leave it there for about an hour or two and then remove and wipe dry (hint from the Rock Rattler).
Silver plated items do not say sterling on the bottom. Plating is a process that places a thin layer of metal (in this case silver) electrically, onto the surface of a base metal item such as aluminum, brass, tin, copper, etc. In addition the plated surface could have been lacquered for protection from oxidation which is caused by exposure to acids within the air.
To clean the item, dip it in warm water and wipe with a soft cotton cloth or jeweler's rouge cloth. If your item is very dull or black, then use a recommended silver dip or cleaner to refurbish the original surface quality (same as sterling cleaners). Follow the directions exactly! Do not expose to harsh sunlight or heat during display or storage.
Note: do not store silver plated items in plastic bags, this will result in condensation (a greenhouse effect) causing extreme pitting to the item's surfaces. The item will then require replating. It may or may not be salvageable due to the cost of removing the original plating, repolishing and then replating.
Confirm if your sterling items have inlaid or bezel set stones (usually a style of setting often used in Native American Indian Jewelry). Also, check for a metal marking stamp that will confirm that it indeed is "Sterling" and not some other plated base metal that is silver plated. Your jewelry items made of sterling silver can also be cleaned in the same commercial silver cleaners that you use for your flat ware and other fine silver objects, except for one major difference: absolutely no gemstones of lapis, malachite, turquoise, and coral can be placed in these types of solutions because of their porous nature. The luster, texture and/or color can be greatly affected by these chemicals.
If your jewelry has such stones then instead of soaking them, merely use a cloth with the solution on it to clean the silver surfaces, avoiding the stones completely. Be extremely careful because the oxides coming off the silver via the cloth, can also easily stain the stones. Your silver pieces with stones can be placed in warm water and then polished dry with a soft cotton cloth. Avoid staining stones by wiping them separately from the silver surfaces. Buffing both briskly can return your items to the original luster.
Items of gold must first be studied to recognize:
It is important to read your warranties and ask questions at the time of purchase about the care and cleaning of your jewelry items. Due to the differing types of metals involved, extreme caution must be take in cleaning these types of items. Are they plated brass, copper, aluminum, bronze, tin, or some other metal? Are there stones in these items? Are they glued in? Specific cleaning instructions will vary with each manufactured type of item and stone. A general rule for cleaning would be the same as silver plated items: warm water and a soft cloth.
Some manufacturers have a life-time warranty for these types of items. For your "Kremetz" and "Van Dell" area gift representative, see: Ralph Miller Jewelers, 28 & 30 West 8th Street, Erie, Pennsylvania.