Cleaning jewelry; making minor repairs on costume jewelry. You can maintain the beauty and luster of almost any piece of jewelry by cleaning or polishing it. For the most part, do home repair work on costume jewelry only. Let a professional repair your fine jewelry.
Most stones and their settings can be cleaned with liquid jewelry cleaner, following package instructions, or with warm water and a little mild detergent. Never use toothpaste or abrasive cleaners. Gently scrub the settings with a soft brush. After washing, dry the jewelry with a soft cloth; then polish it with a piece of chamois.
Diamonds can be cleaned by boiling the stones and their settings in water with a bit of detergent for 5 minutes. But don’t boil any settings in which glue has been used, or the heat will loosen the glue. Allow the diamonds to cool at room temperature; don’t plunge them into cold water. Diamonds may also be cleaned in a solution of 1 tablespoon ammonia to 2 cups of warm water.
Use silver polish to remove tarnish from silver jewelry. The best way to clean and condition real pearls is to wear them next to your skin; their surface is improved by skin oils. Loose stones in costume jewelry If an imitation gem is loose in a prong setting, you can secure it with a pair of smooth jawed jeweler’s pliers. Note that tiny grooves called sets have been cut into the inside surfaces of the prongs. The girdle (widest part) of the stone should fit into the sets.
Open the pliers and place the jaws on facing prongs. Keep the jaws low on the prongs so that they don’t slip over the top of the stone and damage it. Gently pinch the prongs, moving them closer a little at a time. (Don’t apply too much pressure; the metal used for costume jewelry is rather brittle, and a prong may break.) Do the same with the remaining pairs of prongs.
If an imitation stone has fallen from its setting, put a tiny drop of instant glue on its underside before returning it to the setting; then use the pliers as described. Don’t put glue on precious or semiprecious stones, and don’t try to adjust their settings; precious stones are easily damaged. Emeralds, for example, are so soft that a touch of the pliers can mark them, and even diamonds are vulnerable. (The long points of marquise and pear- and kite-shaped diamonds break easily.) Loose links and rings If a necklace or bracelet breaks because a link has pulled open, use jeweler’s pliers to squeeze the link shut. Again, use only slight pressure.
Rings can be tightened by installing a ring guard. Just slip the guard into the ring, center it over the bottom of the ring shank, and squeeze the sides
of the guard gentlywith pliers to tighten. If the ring is then too small, grip the ring shank and the center of the guard, and apply just a little pressure. Restringing beads or pearls If a string of pearls or beads breaks, replace the cord; don’t try to knot the old one. Do your restringing over a scrap of velvet or other napped fabric to keep the pearls or beads from rolling about. Work on an otherwise clear desk with a drawer open over your lap so that if a bead rolls off, the drawer will catch it. Leave pearls or beads of graduated sizes on their old string, if possible, to keep them in order.
Use nylon cord, thread, or dental floss that is thin enough to pass twice through the bore (hole) in the bead or pearl. Cut the cord 12 inches longer than the total length of the necklace. Thread a needle, and tie a knot in the cord 11/2 inches from the end.
Slip the beads over the needle and onto the cord in order. String very small beads right next to each other, and intersperse larger beads with knots as follows. Slip the bead onto the cord, knot the cord, and slip the knot toward the bead with your fingers. As the knot becomes smaller and tighter, insert a needle and push the knot against the bead. Pull the
knot tight and remove the needle. Repeatwith each bead until the necklace is complete. Add a clasp.