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Caring for Gold Jewelry

BY KIM HUGHES –

We tend to think of gold jewelry as being fairly indestructible, just acquiring the minor scratching and patina of use and age.  For the most part it doesn’t deteriorate, discolor or wear out, and we love it for those attributes.

Diamonds may be ‘forever’ but the prongs holding them are not.  Prongs wear over time or can break from stress.  They also may fail from being exposed to chlorine and bromine, especially white gold prongs.  We find these two chemicals in household products such as laundry soap, common household bleaches & cleaning agents.

However, our swimming pools and hot tubs may be even bigger culprits.   The rate of chemical corrosion is not only the result of the amount of chemical but the addition of heat can cause damage.  The deterring factors are: the kind of white gold, the amount of chemical, the temperature and the length of exposure.  Failure may occur in as little as one year.    Bromine can also change the color of gold, turning it to a bronzy color, at the same time making it brittle.

It is recommended that you not wear your jewelry in hot tubs or swimming pools, and that you remove your rings when working with cleaning products and that you not clean your rings with chlorine products.  Have your ring prongs and pendant bails checked regularly by a qualified jeweler.

Neck chains should not be worn when sleeping or showering, and some are more destructible than others.   Showering with them allows soap and scum to collect and dull the chain, and also exposes them to some chlorine.  Sleeping with them puts a good deal of stress on them and causes crimps.  Herringbones are particularly prone to kinking.

To avoid loss of a valuable ring you should never remove it away from home. This means you don’t take it off to wash your hands in a rest room, and you don’t remove it to use hand lotion.  An all too typical loss is when a woman passenger removes her wedding rings in the car and puts them in her lap while applying lotion, waits for lotion to dry and forgets the rings, dropping them off her lap when she exits the car.  When you are out, apply your lotion as usual, and just avoid slathering the rings.

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