My first real job outside of the house was with a wonderful, small, neighborhood, fine jewelry store. The owners were a delightful couple, Fred and Lelia Fruits, who were real veterans of the jewelry business. Mr. Fruits could repair anything and was generous enough to teach me many of the tricks of the trade. Under his tutelage, I learned the importance of cleaning and storing your fine jewelry and the proper techniques for doing so. In addition, the handiest trick I learned was how to detangle a knotted chain.
The Impossible Task
On almost a daily basis, a distraught customer would bring in a tangled mass of chain interlaced with a pendant or dangle, or tied in a series of knots. The kinked up chains were wrapped into tight balls of wedged links with no seeming beginning or end. Mr. Fruits would sooth the usually teary-eyed customer, and instruct him or her to come back in an hour. I would marvel at his confidence that he could untangle the wad of chaos in an hour!
The Secret to Untangling a Knotted Chain
There was never a challenge Mr. Fruits could not conquer, at least for the two years I was there. Here is his simple method:
- Place the jewelry so that it completely rests on a flat surface. There should be no stress or tension on any of the chain to be untangled.
- Dab the knotted area with a cotton swab, dipped in baby oil. Use only a dab; just enough to moisturize the chain so that it will move easily
- The other necessary tools are two straight pins. I prefer the long quilter’s pins with colored round heads; they’re easier to see and easier to hold.
- Insert a pin into the center of the knot and jiggle it around a little. The knot will loosen a little.
- You will begin to see how the chains intertwine as the knot loosens. Sometimes a magnifying glass helps. I usually take off my glasses and put my face real close to the problem.
- As the ins and outs of the knot become apparent, use the pins to reverse the direction of the chains in the knot.
- It takes a little time, but this process has never failed me, and I’ve been using it now for over 40 years!
Cleaning and Storing Your Fine Jewelry
Now that we’ve gotten your jewelry into the proper, separate pieces, let’s explore the best ways to restore it to its original, lustrous condition. We will also talk about the proper way to store it so that it remains ready to wear. Below are some tips on cleaning and storing your fine jewelry, including different types of metals and stones.
- Gold jewelry will eventually accumulate a film of soap, body oils, and hair and skin care products, which make it look dull and dingy. To reduce the amount of build-up, always remove your gold jewelry before showering or cleaning. Gold requires regular cleaning to remove the build-up and occasional tarnish.
- Do not wear gold jewelry in chlorinated water, e.g., the swimming pool or hot tub. Chlorine can permanently discolor gold.
- To clean your gold, wash it with a mixture of warm water and a few drops of dish detergent mixed in a small bowl. You can soak it as this mixture will not damage gold. If your jewelry has stones, you should not soak it, but rather dip a soft cloth into the liquid and wipe down the jewelry.
- If your gold is tarnished, you can wipe it with a mixture of warm water and a few drops of ammonia. Rinse and dry it thoroughly.
- Be sure to wipe off one piece at the time. Gold scratches easily, so don’t rub it against other pieces. Toothpaste and baking soda are not recommended as cleaners because they are abrasive.
- If your jewelry has a lot of ridges or carving, you can gently use a child’s soft toothbrush to clean the crevices.
- Dry your jewelry thoroughly with a soft cloth.
- To store your gold, you may hang necklaces and bracelets. Earrings, rings, and pins should be stored separately so that they don’t scratch each other.
- Do not leave silver jewelry in the bathroom, and do not wear it when you bathe or swim. Moisture makes it tarnish.
- Use a silver polishing cloth to clean it. When silver is highly tarnished, you can wash it with a combination of warm water and a few drops of dish soap. If it contains set stones, do not completely submerge the piece.
- Silver is a soft metal that scratches easily, so use a soft sponge to wash it, and a child’s soft toothbrush to get into deep areas.
- Thoroughly dry silver before storing it. Moisture is its enemy. You can store it separately in airtight bags, or in trays or boxes lined in treated silver cloth.
- Pearls are different from precious metals. They like moisture. Wearing them often is the best way to keep them in a moist environment.
- Pearls should be the last thing you put on when dressing. They should not be exposed to hairspray, perfume spray, lotions or makeup. When you remove your pearls, wipe them with a soft cloth to remove dirt.
- To clean pearls, dip a soft cotton cloth in a mixture of warm water and a teaspoon of Woolite or another mild detergent. Gently wipe them with the damp cloth.
- Wipe them dry with a soft, cotton cloth, and lay them flat to dry thoroughly.
- Do not hang pearls to store them, as they will stretch over time. Store them flat in fabric lined compartments, separately so they won’t scratch.
Diamonds and Gemstones
- The best way to clean gemstones is with a soft toothbrush and warm, soapy water.
- Toothpaste is not a good cleaner for gemstones. While it won’t hurt them, it is abrasive and can damage the settings.
- Pat gemstones dry with a soft cloth.
Opals and Turquoise
- Opals and Turquoise can be cleaned with a soft cloth and warm, soapy water. Avoid chemicals, cleaners, and bleach as they can damage the stones.
- Dry opals and turquoise thoroughly.
- Never clean opals or turquoise to in an ultrasonic cleaner. It can damage or crack the stones.
- Store opals and turquoise separately in cloth-lined bags or trays.
Custom Jewelry Storage
Properly cleaning and storing your fine jewelry ensures that it’s ready to wear when you’re ready to wear it. Nothing feels better than donning a cherished piece on a special occasion or for no occasion at all! Dream Closets has designed and installed many types of jewelry storage, including pullouts with hanging hooks and trays, islands with jewelry trays, and even a motorized, hidden unit in a closet hutch. We’re very creative!
Until we talk again, live your best life!