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Displaying or storing your jewellery

By Justin Krall, G.G.

When wearing your jewellery, try to keep jewellery items separate. Rings that rub together may loosen the prongs that hold gemstones. Necklaces worn together may become tangled with each another, causing one of them to break. You may want to take your jewellery off before you wash your hands; sometimes soap can loosen your rings and cause them to slide down the drain. When you put on sweaters or other pieces of clothing, be careful that they do not get caught on your earrings, necklaces, rings, or bracelets.

In general, you should store each jewellery piece separately, either in jewellery cases or in a soft-lined jewellery box that has compartments to divide jewellery. Make sure your jewellery is thoroughly dry before storing it.

Durability is an important factor in determining how to care for jewellery. As defined by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), durability or "hardness" is " the resistance to scratching." Hardness is judged on a scale of 1 to 10. Listed below are examples of gemstones and their placement on the hardness scale.

Ruby & Sapphire9
Amethyst & Citrine7
Opal & Lapis5
Plastic1 to 2

Stability is a gem material's resistance to heat and chemicals. For the majority of gemstones, temperatures must exceed 1600 degrees before any damage occurs and in most cases, only acids will affect the stability of a gemstone. There are some exceptions: they include, but are not limited to, opals, pearls and emeralds. Below are some tips for displaying or storing specific materials.


Diamonds are by far the most popular gemstone used for jewellery and as most of us have heard, a diamond is the hardest substance in the world. However, what most people don't know is that diamonds can, and often do, chip Even though diamond is the hardest known substance, when it is cut into different shapes (including the most popular round brilliant cut), there are areas where the diamond gets very weak. The girdle-the outer edge of a diamond where the top and bottom meet-is particularly susceptible to weakness.

The girdle is also the area where the prongs are attached to the diamond. On this edge, the diamond can chip very easily if hit at the proper angle and with a reasonable amount of force. The reason for the weakness is two-fold: first, the girdle edge is the thinnest part of the diamond and second, the diamond structure has weaknesses along its "cleavage planes." This is defined as the propensity of a diamond's crystalline structure to break parallel along certain atomic planes. Like wood, which is easier to cut when you cut with the grain, a diamond has similar grains. Therefore, you must not wear your diamond jewellery in situations where there is a high possibility of it being struck against a hard surface.

Diamonds can also be scratched. This occurs when several pieces of diamond jewellery are placed together in the same container. Although diamond is the hardest stone, one diamond will scratch another. Take care to store your diamond jewellery away from one another and other gems like sapphires, rubies, and so on, which can also be scratched by a diamond.


Many people have the misconception that oil is good for opals, however, applying oil to an opal may actually be the worst thing you can do to it! Like your skin, opals have pores that allow moisture to pass into the stone. Since opals have a high content of water in them, clogging the pores stops the flow of moisture to the opals. The opal eventually dries out, breaks, or develops small cracks known as "crazing."

The proper way to maintain the lustre of your opals is to place them in a glass filled with distilled water for 24 hours once a month. If, over a period of time, the lustre does not return, chances are the stone has several small scratches on the surface that can be removed by polishing. A professional gem cutter should do this.


Pearls should be wiped with a soft cloth after every wearing. If you wear your pearls often, you should restring them yearly. Apply hairspray and makeup products before wearing pearls.

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