Jewelry: Not a Body Part

Tips and tricks for keeping your sparkle

By: Colton Bartel

Have you ever had those days were you don’t feel all that great and it seems like everyone you talk to says you look horrible? It’s at that moment when you decide that maybe it’s time for a checkup at the doctor’s office to see what the problem is and how to get back to your shining self. Now go to your “neatly” organized jewelry box. Are the pieces sitting there shining back at you, or do they look like you do on a sick day when you need a checkup? Chances are they may need a little TLC.

The rule of thumb is that all jewelry needs to be inspected at least every six months. Some stores will tell you this when you buy a piece of jewelry, some have care plans that require a check and clean to keep up warranty and others send you on your way and wait for you to come in with a broken and sick piece of jewelry. The point is, no matter where you got your jewelry or who made your it, all of it needs a checkup twice a year.

When you need this done, it’s always best to visit a reputable jewelry store that has an educated staff, and even better, an in-house jeweler. The check-and-clean process is normally pretty quick – about like going through a car wash. The jeweler should inspect every detail of the piece, making sure all stones are tight, checking for any cracks or excessive wear and looking at the overall condition and shape of the piece. This includes informing you of any chipped, broken or missing stones, and any places that are misshapen or bent.

The most common problems are loose stones and worn prongs. Just like the car you drive, over time, parts begin to show wear and need to be either repaired or replaced. Also just like your car, if you take good care of your jewelry, it will last longer and you will have fewer repairs to deal with.

“So how do I take good care of my jewelry?” Oh, I am so glad you asked! First of all, jewelry is not a body part, so you don’t need it on 24/7. They make jewelry boxes for a reason. Think of it as a little hotel for your sparkly friends to spend the night. Ladies, I know you want to rock your bling well into the evening, and I hate to burst your bubble, but your pillow and sheets could care less about your 10-carat diamond ring and your custom-made pendant and earrings, so please take them off. Believe it or not, you can cause more problems for your jewelry by sleeping and cleaning with it on than most would imagine.

Look at it this way: When you bring your jewelry in for us to clean and polish, we use a cotton buff to get the scratches out, and that can only happen by removing small amounts of metal. The same cotton is used to make the sheets you sleep on; however, unlike polishing your ring where it is only in contact with the buff for a few seconds, when you sleep in it, you are doing that for six to eight hours every night of the year. That is a lot of polishing! So what I’m getting at is that you are actually polishing your jewelry away just by sleeping in it. By taking your jewelry off and tucking it in its own bed at night, you are making it last longer.

The second thing is to clean your jewelry at home on a regular basis or take it to your jeweler to clean more often. The main reason is obvious: You want your jewelry to be bright and shiny, not dull and grungy. The other, less obvious, reason is to make sure there are no irritants or chemicals getting trapped. When this happens, there are many problems that can arise, including skin irritations or rashes and damage to the metal or stones the piece is made of. More often than not, those who are experiencing what they believe to be a metal allergy is actually just a dirty piece of jewelry.

The best way to clean your jewelry at home is with a soft toothbrush, warm water and a mild dish soap without any abrasives. Many people use toothpaste, claiming it polishes the stones as it cleans. This is actually false. The toothpaste will cause more harm than good, with the main problem being that it sticks in all the small crevices and hardens like cement. Cleaning that out is like trying to get dried oatmeal off a brick wall, so please be nice to your sparkly friends and bathe them gently.


For more information or to set up a free check and clean, please visit Susann’s Custom Jewelers at 4254 S. Alameda in Corpus Christi,
Texas, or call us at 361-991-7565. You can also email Colton Bartel, GIA graduate gemologist, at


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