Monday, December 6, 2021

Jewelry Falsehoods Continued



Richard Alan

A35-CBN-10-31-14-6Call them what you may, old wives tales, home remedies or a friend from work told me so. There are things that concern jewelry that are downright wrong, false and can actually harm and even destroy your precious gems or jewelry.

Cleaning jewelry whether it is fine (expensive) or costume jewelry (not expensive) is not a cut and dried process. There are certain chemicals that should never be used on either quality. Cleaning costume jewelry is always very risky. The gold or silver plating can be dulled or peel off and look worse that it did before the cleaning. Most stones are only glued in and can become dislodged in the cleaning process. Even with my many years of experience cleaning all kinds of jewelry, costume jewelry is like handling a delicate flower; it can break or fall apart by just touching it, let alone cleaning it.

Falsehood #1:

Clean your jewelry in bleach.

This is the worst thing you could possibly do to your jewelry. This is catastrophic to gold and silver; this can also damage many gemstones. Cleaning with bleach and soaking in heavily chlorinated swimming pools keep my repair business nonstop. It actually corrodes gold and silver and dulls emeralds and other porous gemstones, such as turquoise, coral or lapis, to name a few. Use a good quality jewelry cleaner, and remember not to mix gold jewelry with silver in the same cleaning solution (jar). The tarnish that is removed from the silver will attach itself to the gold. Always use a separate silver cleaner.

Falsehood #2:

Clean your jewelry with toothpaste.

This is just plain nonsense; this I can assure you. It will not whiten or keep your jewelry safe from plaque or bad breath. In effect, all it does is gunk up your favorite pieces and can actually scratch your jewelry from the pumice grit in the toothpaste. Using an old soft bristle toothbrush to clean with an approved jewelry cleaner is a better idea. Always remember to dip the jewelry in clean water (to neutralize the cleaning solution), and dry with a cotton swatch or polishing cloth.

Falsehood #3:

Diamonds are unbreakable!

Nothing could be further than the truth; diamonds can be chipped or be turned into dust from a sharp rap on a marble counter or car door handle. I come across scores of chipped diamonds that customers have inadvertently caused without being aware of the damage. Remove your rings when washing pots and pans, gardening, lifting or



moving heavy articles.

Falsehood #4:

Only diamonds scratch glass.

Glass scratches glass. Try it yourself.

Falsehood #5:

A gift of pearls to a bride-to-be will only cause the couple heartache and tears.

I believe this is an Old Italian wives tale. I can’t prove this is not so, nor would I want to. What I can tell you is never apply perfume or hairspray directly onto your pearls. Put your pearls on after the fact. The sprays will seriously affect the appearance of your pearls by dulling and damaging the delicate surface (nacre) of the pearls and also weaken the silk cord. Only use special approved pearl cleaners.

Falsehood #6: Expensive sterling silver jewelry should never tarnish.

This sadly is not true, but there have been improvements. First problem is living on a tropical island surrounded by salt water/salt air, both of which speed up the tarnishing process.

All silver will tarnish. It is the nature of the metal; same goes for brass, bronze and copper. Recently, new technology in the science of metallurgy has brought forward new alloys that when added to pure silver keep its shine longer and actually tarnishes less quickly. I have several new lines of European and American sterling jewelry that I no longer have to clean on a regular basis because of this new technology. Also remember that a lot of sterling jewelry has a rhodium- or nickel-plated coating on the surface that does help prevent tarnishing, but it can wear off in time.

Falsehood #6:

The best diamond deals can be found

on the internet.

I for one found this to be a fallacy, but first, describe “best deal” to me. Only recently a customer showed me a “One Carat Bargain Diamond” he purchased for $1000 on some cockamamie bargain diamond website. It was farfetched calling it a diamond; it was more like imperfect carbon interrupted by bits of diamond. I have seen diamond grinding wheels with more brilliance.

To me, buying a diamond sight-unseen is just dumb. Whether you are haggling in a third world outdoor marketplace or shopping in cyber-space, you always get what you pay for — never more, unless they stole it — and money (profit) will be made by the seller. Otherwise, what’s the point? A one carat diamond for $1000 is comparable to buying a $1000 Mercedes-Benz. It might look good from a distance, but up close?


Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith with more than 40 years of experience and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith of Marco Island. He welcomes your questions about “all that glitters” at 239-394-9275 or at

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