How to care for Aquamarine jewelry
by Ritika Changrani
Aquamarines are beautiful gems encasing the myriad colors of the sea. Safeguarding them against harmful chemicals and sharp blows is of primary importance. Timely cleaning will ensure the longevity of the gems and help maintain their unique luster.
Aquamarine – The sea stone. The vivid hues of the sea are captured in this stone and said to be reflected in the personality of the wearer. It is a member of the Beryl family, to which emeralds also belong.
If you want to preserve the original beauty of these gemstones, certain simple guidelines need to be followed.
Caring for aquamarines begins with knowing how, when and where to wear them. You must remember the golden rule for jewelry : ALWAYS PUT IT ON LAST AND TAKE IT OFF FIRST (LIFO- Last In First Out).
This means that jewelry should be put on after completion of make-up, which includes hair-spray and perfume. They contain certain harmful chemicals that may lead to damage of the aquamarines. Try to handle the gems as little as possible as natural oil secreted by the skin will dull the their luster over time. Look for any loose gems or clasps before finally putting on the jewelry.
While doing domestic work or any kind of manual labor, remove your jewelry. Take care to remove aquamarine rings while doing gardening. Necklaces or bracelets can break easily if they get caught in a hook or a sharp edge. Aquamarines may crack if they are subject to blows. A sudden mistaken hit may cause the loss of one of your treasures.
When going to the parlor for hair styling remember to remove any aquamarine earrings that you are wearing. The same holds for when you get your hair colored. The chemicals used are often harsh and contain ammonia and alcohol which may tarnish your gem.
Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight as aquamarines tend to become pale. Always take jewelry off before going swimming. The chlorine content of water hinders its sheen.
Follow the golden rule and you shall never go wrong.
Like most other gemstones, aquamarine requires regular care to ensure that it maintains its semblance. A yearly visit to your jeweler is advised for professional cleaning. He is the best person to detect even tiny damages in its early stages. Timely correction will result in your gems looking their finest all the time.
However, there are some things that you can do in your home too. After each use wipe the jewelry with a soft cloth to remove any make-up or skin oil that it may have acquired. Make sure that the cloth used is pure cotton as coarser fabrics tend to graze the surface of the aquamarines. Also avoid using finger-nails while wiping.
In addition to the above, follow this simple cleaning procedure regularly. Soak aquamarine jewelry in Luke-warm water. Add some mild liquid soap and leave for some time. Gently pick up piece by piece and clean it with a soft brush till all traces of grime disappear. Finally, wash off with plain water. Take care not to use a metallic brush as it may scratch the gem. Do the cleaning on a table or flat surface and not in the sink. A slight slip and it may roll into the drain and be lost forever.
Toothpaste, alcohol, acetone and ammonia are often advised as cleaning agents for gems. These tips are best ignored. These products may damage the surface of aquamarines to an extent where professional help would be required to return the gem’s original look.
Avoid using the ultrasonic cleaner for aquamarine jewelry. These machines clean jewelry by a giving out a series of sound waves which crack the gems irreparably. If the instructions specifically state that the particular piece is safe for ultrasonic cleaning, only then go ahead and do it.
Gemstones are most vulnerable when they are worn. However, incorrect storage methods may also hamper them.
What is the correct storage technique, you may ask. Well, the same thumb-rule applies to all jewelry including those set with aquamarines. Each piece should be carefully wrapped in a soft fabric. Alternatively, it may be kept in a box with individual compartments. Harder stones can scratch the surface of aquamarines. On the other hand, aquamarines may cause marks on other stones.
Store your jewelry box in a safe place. Keep aquamarines away from sunlight. Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures.
Aquamarines are very sensitive to sudden temperature changes. Any sort of repair, especially soldering should be done away from the gems.
What can be done if a piece of jewelry set with aquamarines needs to be mended? The stones may be coated with a substance called borax or any other heat-shielding matter to avoid damage while soldering. Immense care must be taken while doing this. If the aquamarines are too valuable, then it is advisable to unset them before applying heat to the piece of jewelry. Unsetting is itself a dicey affair so treat these gems with greater care than diamonds or rubies.
Aquamarines should ideally be set in 18 carat gold or platinum. Nine or even 14 carat gold should be avoided.
Acquisition of good quality aquamarines is an art and the inexperienced should consult a trusted jeweler before making the final purchase. Such valuable gems should be preserved for posterity. Proper and timely care will guarantee a long life.
So go ahead and flaunt your sea stones but remember to handle them with care and stock them safely!