Taking Care of your Jewelry
With the summer swimming season well underway it's time to remind you to TAKE YOUR JEWELRY OFF BEFORE YOU GET IN THE POOL. Or hot tub. Chlorine and bromine are very bad for gold jewelry. White gold is the most vulnerable but we have seen yellow gold affected also, although to a lesser degree. The damage is cumulative, meaning the longer the gold is exposed to the chemicals , the more serious the damage. Also, The damaging effect occurs faster in warmer water, like hot tubs.
Skip this paragraph if you're not interested in the science behind this.
The science behind this destruction, if you're interested, involves the mixing of the gold with the appropriate alloys that change the color and characteristics of the gold. White gold is mixture of pure 24kt gold and predominantly nickel. Karat content of gold is based on 24 parts, 24kt being pure gold. 14kt is 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy. 18kt = 18 parts gold and 6 parts alloy. The problem comes when you mix the alloys together with the gold and they don't blend together as well as you might imagine. The nickel can stay together on a microscopic level and produce "boundary planes" in the mixture. This leads to tiny almost invisible cracks in the mixture that form when the metal is worked, such as bending a prong over a stone to set the stone. The chlorine or bromine get into the crack and eat away at the nickel causing it to become brittle. This is why your prongs can break off prematurely. I remember dealing with a very irate customer who had his wife's diamond reset and a short time later the stone fell out. He said she had just climbed out of the pool and her stone fell out. Well, that was an eye opener for him when we told him that we could not be held responsible because she had contaminated her ring with the chlorine in the pool.
Bottom line is, when the swim suit goes on the jewelry comes off. Take good care of your fine jewelry and it will last for years. And remember to take it off when cleaning with bleach or cleaning products containing chlorine. Have a great summer,