The Most Common Causes of Damage to Jewelry

Written by: Sue Fritz | | Jewelry

Common Causes of Jewelry Damage

The pieces of jewelry you wear every day are probably some of your favorites. Unfortunately, constant wear makes these items susceptible to damage. Let’s look at some of the most common sources of jewelry damage, and how you can keep your most precious accessories safe.

Chemical Damage

Chemicals often damage jewelry because they are hidden in products we use every day.  Cleaning products, for example, are chock full of chlorines, bleaches, and abrasive detergents. The chlorine in cleaning products can discolor gold and silver – even hard gemstones can lose their polished finish with continued exposure. Silver is especially susceptible to ammonia, which is a common ingredient in household cleaners. Despite ammonia’s tendency to irritate the eyes and nose, sometimes it’s a key ingredient in green, alternative cleaners, so don’t assume that just because a product says “organic” that it is safe for your jewelry. Natural acids and oils might seem harmless, but they’re actually not: watch out for extended or repeated exposure to vinegars and fruit juices. To be safe, you should always remove your jewelry before you do any real household cleaning.

Don’t forget about chlorinated water! Take off your jewelry before you spend a day at the pool, the waterpark, or anywhere else with treated water.

The best way to keep your jewels sparkling is to use cleaners that are specially formulated to clean precious stones and metals gently and safely. Never substitute common household cleaners for jewelry cleaner.

Cosmetic Damage

Perfumes, hairspray, and lotions can dull the finish on gemstones. Diamonds attract oils, which stick to their faceted surfaces and dull their shine. Pearls are especially vulnerable to things like makeup and hairspray because they are more porous and fragile than most other stones. You definitely don’t want to be wearing your strand of pearls when you add your finishing touch of hairspray. When it comes to applying makeup, keep this axiom in mind regarding your jewelry: “last on, first off.” To protect your jewelry, don’t put it on until the rest of your morning routine is finished, and always take it off before you open up the facial cleanser at night.

Damage from the Elements (Air, Water, Light, and Heat)

Exposure to the elements can directly affect some jewelry. Silver tarnishes when exposed to direct sunlight, and salt water erodes the finish of gemstones. Heat can distort color in certain gems and degrade certain metals. Be careful not to subject your jewelry to sudden temperature changes.

Avoid storing your pearls in hot locations, and don’t keep them in plastic bags or other airtight containers. Pearls benefit from the moisture in the air – without it, they can become fragile or discolored.

Scratch Damage

Because gem-quality diamonds are the hardest known minerals, they can scratch your other jewelry if all items are stored together in a box or a bag. Your diamonds could even scratch your other diamonds. To minimize incidental scratching, make sure to store your diamonds and other hard gems separately.

Damage from Impact

Even though diamonds are the hardest known mineral, they still aren’t impervious to harm. Diamonds can crack when dropped on a hard surface or fall out of their settings when subjected to impact. Rubies, sapphires and other precious stones are also susceptible to chipping, cracking, or breaking. Emeralds are especially brittle, and as you might imagine, pearls can easily be damaged or crushed if improperly protected. Err on the side of safety by removing your jewelry before you begin any hard manual labor, like moving furniture. And have a safe place to store your jewelry when you remove it to cook or clean; don’t just perch it on the edge of the nearest high shelf.

Your jewelry is important to you. You want to keep it on, but you also want to keep it safe. When your jewelry is insured through Lavalier, it isn’t only protected from theft and loss; it is protected from the most common causes of accidental jewelry damage. You can purchase jewelry insurance online in minutes to make sure your favorite pieces are protected from thieves and your backyard pool alike.


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Lavalier is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness.