Jewellery Info & Advice

Fine jewellery is a precious luxury and should be treasured.

You really can fall in love with an item of jewellery. The feeling of adoration can be profound and an inexplicable desire to have and cherish that particular piece can be very overpowering. Indeed, purchasing a piece of fine jewellery is an emotive experience. It is often, if not invariably, associated with life-changing or special events in our lives. It exudes our sense of style and marks our achievements. Our family histories come to life in the heirlooms left behind by past generations whilst we, in turn, aspire to leave to our future generations loved possessions which will become lasting mementos for the future. This can only be possible when the item has been cared for and given the respect that it deserves over the years.

You should remove all jewellery at night, when bathing and when performing tasks that could be damaging. When jewellery is worn continuously it is being taken for granted and is sure to suffer. Under these circumstances your jewellery is particularly vulnerable . It can easily go unnoticed that maintenance is required and be left unattended to until it is too late.

It is each individual’s prerogative to wear their jewellery as they please, but those who prefer to wear their jewellery constantly will incur a higher cost in terms of maintenance, repair and loss. Just as you would service a car, or dry-clean a suit, jewellery requires maintenance from time-to-time.

  • Store your jewellery separately to avoid scratching, and keep it in a cool, dry place.
  • Always avoid contact with chemicals, hairsprays, deodorants and perfume.

General cleaning of jewellery should be done gently and advisedly. Specialised care-advice is freely given or you can follow the guidelines below. A simple solution of warm, not hot, water and a little washing up liquid is often all that is needed. Make sure your jewellery is thoroughly dried. Alternatively consider occasional professional cleaning and polishing. For hygiene purposes most establishments will not allow earrings to be tried on, and hand-cream is available on request when removing rings that have become tight. Customers are requested not to lick their fingers!

▼ SILVER

Sterling Silver contains a minimum of 92.5% pure silver, and an item made of Sterling Silver is made of this standard of metal through and through.

Silver by nature attracts oxides, which can temporarily affect the surface colour. To keep silver looking bright, use a special impregnated silver cloth, or a silver dip, and closely follow instructions.

When using a silver dip cleaner it is particularly important to:

  • not leave the item to soak
  • rinse-off thoroughly
  • dry thoroughly

To brighten a sandblasted finish, use a regular eraser.

To maintain sandblasted and gold-plated finishes avoid abrasive wear.

A very small percentage of us have a high acidity in our skins which reacts to silver and, although it is not harmful, can temporarily turn the surface dark.

▼ GOLD

Pure gold is too soft for practical use; therefore we have strictly controlled qualities of gold alloyed with other metals. We measure these qualities in 'carats'.

Pure gold is 24 carats (or 100%). In the UK, the two carat-qualities we use the most are 9ct and 18ct.

Different alloys vary not only in value but also in colour and malleability etc. There are many more recognised permutations of alloys than you would probably expect, but each alloy has a limited number of suitable applications. In addition, there are solders (alloys of varying melting points) of matching carat qualities that are refined to be as close as possible a match to the required colour.

9ct gold, or '375' (37.5% pure gold) is a popular choice based on price and availability. Many people believe that is harder wearing and, whilst it is true that the hardness level of 9ct yellow gold is greater than 18ct yellow gold, the difference is insignificant and less important than that the item is well-made and of a suitable weight.

Due to the lower cost of 9ct gold, it is the preferred choice of manufacturers of lightweight economically produced jewellery. However, 9ct gold allows greater scope for colours and applications for use within the alloys and, at its best, can result in high-quality items with great depth of colour and of a size and weight that could prove prohibitive in 18ct gold.

Many old items of jewellery, now very collectable, were produced from 9ct gold. A popular colour was the 9ct 'rose' gold, often now referred to as 'old gold', but is in fact still available as a choice in new items.

18ct gold, or ‘750’ (75% pure gold) is the preferred choice of devotees and jewellers themselves. Whilst the cost is higher, the intrinsic value is also greater, and containing twice as much pure gold, it is more resistant to the elements, less allergic, and is more precious.

The colour ranges are subtler, although for those who enjoy wearing the 'white' family of metals, 18ct white gold provides a better natural white than 9ct white gold. Better quality and larger stones are best set in 18ct gold, (or platinum), more worthy of their value.

22ct Gold, or ‘916’ (91.6% pure gold) was a popular choice for wedding rings in the first half of the 20th century. The purest of the gold alloys, it has a distinctive warm yellow hue. At a time when quality was the priority, most wedding bands were fairly narrow, but of a heavy gauge. In spite of its softer qualities, such bands have survived the test of time. Contrary to popular belief, a wide choice is still available to order as new.

Other lesser known carat qualities are: 10ct gold found in America, 12ct gold found only in rare antique pieces, 15ct gold, a lovely warm yellow found in old rings, brooches and occasionally other items, and 14ct gold, (or ‘14K’), which is a recognised British carat quality, but found mainly on the Continent.

Combinations of metals are technically possible, but allowable only under the terms and restrictions of the British Hallmarking Regulations.

▼ PLATINUM

The king of metals! The most precious, the most expensive, the most desirable.

Platinum is the densest of the precious metals, so weighs more per equal volume than gold, (which, in turn, weighs more than silver). There are fewer alloys of platinum, so solder alloys are limited and sizing in rings can be more visible. Its white colour is the best and purest colour for those who love the white family of metals.

Although platinum’s popularity has been greatly increased by recent trends towards the white family of metals, those who wear it have discovered that its subtle tones complement their skin’s complexion and feel it suits their personality. Undoubtedly, platinum is associated with success and a taste for quality.

▼ PALLADIUM

Hailed as a Jewellery Revolution. Palladium is a precious white metal, part of the Platinum Group Metal Family. It is naturally white and will never change colour. Palladium is hypoallergenic. Palladium is 40% lighter than Platinum and will withstand the most arduous wear. Palladium is an affordable alternative to platinum, similar in price to 9ct Gold.

▼ DIAMONDS

We say 'a Woman without diamonds is like heaven without stars', but we would not be politically correct to exclude men from this scenario and nor should we. Many gentlemen enjoy diamonds, not to mention jewellery, to a greater extent than is credited. Those gentlemen who appreciate the virtues of a high-quality and/or rare piece of jewellery are often the most enthusiastic of all.

As with anything, diamonds vary in size, colour and quality. Add to that the different shapes, and varying price ranges and it’s hardly surprising that most people would worry about what they are buying. It is important to feel confident that you are getting good value for money, and it is even more important that you absolutely love your diamonds and that the enjoyment they give you justifies the money spent.

Whilst diamonds are the hardest material, and the choice for the largest majority of engagement rings, it does not mean that they are invincible. If an item of diamond-set jewellery is abused, accidentally damaged or has worn over many years without maintenance, the stones may not be safe within their setting and could be lost.

▼ PRECIOUS STONES

As with diamonds, qualities, and therefore values of coloured stones can vary widely. One cannot group, for example, emeralds as being valuable across the range. Some may be of low grade whilst others may be more valuable than an equivalent weight of diamond. Therefore, if we say we love rubies, we undoubtedly would not admire every ruby to the same degree.

However inexperienced one might be with the subject of jewellery, most of us would quickly learn to compare one like item against another, thus deciding, for example, a quality and colour of, say, sapphire which we would prefer. Instinct is a good measure, and all-important in the enjoyment of your jewellery. You can experience a feeling of affinity with a particular stone; even you have previously dismissed that group as a non-favourite.

▼ PEARLS

NATURAL PEARLS are rare. They have grown in entirely natural conditions and grown at their own pace without human interference until found. Such pearls are rare and matched strings of larger sizes are priceless.

CULTURED PEARLS are real pearls that have been 'farmed' in conditions conducive to their development. The seed of the pearls are planted into the mother shell and, whilst the rest of the process is natural, their progress is monitored for optimum results in both quality and quantity. The best qualities have been grown from the smallest 'seed' for the longest periods with the greatest numbers of layers (nacre), thus improving their lustre.

SIMULATED PEARLS, or imitation, are made from synthetic materials. Sometimes with a mother-of-pearl base, these beads are produced in a variety of ways and varying price ranges and quality. They are man-made imitations of the real thing.

The lustre, size and shape of pearls are all important to their quality and value. The colour is largely a matter of personal preference. Strings of pearls, and other items such as earrings, should be well matched and graded. Look for the 'eye' of the pearl, which is more marked in better qualities.

Pearls should be stored separately in their box and any contact with perfumes, hairsprays and deodorants should be avoided. Threading should be done professionally and checked regularly for damage or weakness. A soft, clean, dry cloth can be used to gently maintain pearls. It is not advisable to wash them, as they are no longer in their natural state and have porous areas where holes have been drilled, or half-drilled for their use in jewellery. Washing can damage their threading, and other items, e.g. rings or earrings, require to be kept dry so as not to disturb the bond between the pearls and their settings.

▼ SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES

The range of colours and values of gemstones classed as semi-precious is enormous. The title ‘semi-precious’ applies to a variety of price ranges, also, covering every natural gemstone that is not sapphire, emerald, ruby or diamond.

▼ AMBER

Millions of years old!

Health giving qualities!

Amber is soft and requires special care. Avoid contact with hard objects, also perfumes and hair sprays, plus extreme temperatures

Care for amber by storing in a soft cloth or bag (not air-tight). Clean using mild soap and warm, not hot, water If the lustre is lost, polish with a soft cloth dampened with olive oil.