Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Spring Cleaning Your Jewelry

Now's the perfect time to give your favorite jewels a spring cleaning
Now’s the perfect time for spring cleaning your jewelry

Just in time for spring, jewelry designer and local resident Joann Smyth offers suggestions for spring cleaning jewelry to keep it sparkling and in good working order all year long. Perhaps there’s something special from your mom or grandmother you may want to spruce up and wear this weekend?

As with all items we cherish, maintenance is a piece of the journey. Considering how much time we spend keeping treasured items like scarfs, shoes, bags, etc. pertinent to our daily uniform looking good, remember jewelry requires attention as well.

Watches. Watches require annual cleaning especially if worn daily. Checking for wear and tear on leather and metal bands is very important. If a battery-driven watch is left unattended, allowing the battery to die puts the entire movement at risk of being ruined by acid leaking. When retiring a watch, remove the battery first.

rings_stackableRings. This category of jewelry takes the worst beating,  because,  of course, we use our hands for everything. Check for metal wearing off on prongs holding stones and pearls. When stones begin to move or make a noise within the setting, it’s time to stop wearing immediately and take the item for repair. Keeping diamonds and gem stones clean is easy and should be done frequently to keep them catching the light and looking gorgeous. To do so, take a small glass of water with a drop or two of dish detergent or (my favorite) Mr. Clean.  Get the solution really hot (you can even put it in the microwave for 30 seconds), then drop the rings into the mixture and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Pour the solution into a small sieve and hold under very hot running water for a final rinse. Place the rings on an absorbent surface and enjoy the view! This same routine should be done with pearl rings, but ONLY use dish detergent, NEVER ammonia products.

earrings_bluetopazjoannsmythEarrings.  Give your earrings a warm bath monthly to remove hair products, perfume and body oil. This is especially necessary for pearls. Did you know that a pearl has a life expectancy of roughly our own lifetime? The nacre (outside surface) of a pearl is what creates its luster. When young it reflects light, but as it ages the surface gets dry and can crack open as though peeling off. The cleaner you keep pearls, the longer they stay shiny and hold their color.

Necklaces.  Pearls — Ideally, about every  6 months, give your pearls a warm bath in dish detergent and pearlsjoannsmythwater to remove body oils from pearls and silk knots. This routine will help extend the life expectancy of pearls. Air dry the pearls flat on an absorbent towel. Be careful not wear them wet, for the silk will stretch and eventually break.  Normal wear and tear from handling and body heat causes the silk to stretch. When a bead or pearl can be moved in between the knots, it’s a sign they should be taken for restringing. Ideally, consider restringing your pearls every other year.


Colored Stones. To clean, follow the same instructions as for pearls.

Sterling Silver.  Wearing silver jewelry tends to keep it clean. A polishing cloth impregnated with red rouge is great for maintenance of sterling silver. Using the rouge cloth first, followed by the second layer to remove the cleaning compound.  Storing sterling silver in silver cloth is ideal. The trouble with silver starts when you leave it exposed to the air for a while, then tarnish builds up as the metal tries to protect itself from dirty air and body oils. Paste cleaners are messy and very hard to remove when dried, so therefore not recommended.

Liquid cleaners are best but come with several important provisos. First, NEVER use on stones or pearls or watches. Second, the liquid is usually muriatic acid and will remove color from almost everything, including leaving stains on stainless steel surfaces. It’s a very effective cleaner but completely unforgiving if handled improperly, so it may be best to leave that solution to a professional jeweler.

Jewelry is always an investment. It’s also a statement saying much about who you are and what is important to you.  As you cherish these items daily, remember to keep them looking and working their best. This will allow you to enjoy them for years to come. As styles change, remember the elements of your jewelry hold their value and the styling can always be updated.

Keep Cleaning and Enjoy!”

Joann Smith

Joann Smyth, a celebrated jewelry designer for more than 25 years, creates jewelry that is classically inspired with a modern vibe. Pearls and stones in unusual colors,shapes and textures are the cornerstone of her collection. For appointments, call 323-376-9864.

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