Rings, cameos and other jewellery are often some of our most cherished possessions, and are part of the legacy we hand down. It takes just a little care and know-how to keep your precious pieces in pristine condition.
1. Polish your jewellery
Most modern jewellery can be safely cleaned using a mild soap-and-water solution and a soft-bristled brush or a soft cloth (even soft brushes can cause scratches on silver). Don’t use hard water, though; it can cause discolouration or leave mineral deposits. Make sure to clean jewellery over a mat or a towel so that it will catch any stones that may come loose. Antique jewellery should never be cleaned with water. Rather, use a soft, dry paintbrush or chamois to remove dirt and dust. Heavily-soiled jewellery should be professionally cleaned.
2. Keep claw settings away from water
Do not wet rings or other pieces of jewellery with claw settings. Claws are tiny prongs that hold a stone in place, and on pieces with claws, water can seep into small crevices and cause corrosion. Many antique jewellery pieces with claw settings also use adhesives to set the stones; immersing them in water can soften or disintegrate the glues, resulting in lost gemstones. Have loose stones reglued by a jeweller.
3. Condition a cameo
As shell cameos age, they can develop cracks or discolouration due to changes in the weather or very dry conditions. But you can keep your cameos in great shape by moisturizing them once or twice a year. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub the cameo in warm water mixed with a bit of mild soap (such as Ivory liquid). Rinse immediately and thoroughly pat dry. Once the residual water has evaporated, apply some oil of wintergreen or mineral oil to the cameo using your finger, a soft cloth, or a cotton swab. Be sure to coat both the front and back surfaces. Let the oil soak in for several hours or overnight; then wipe off any excess.