All About Jewelry Care, Gemstones, Metals and More
Jewelry Care 101
I.Gorman’s guarantee is simple: we repair damaged jewelry at no charge, for two years from date of purchase. But everyday, at-home care will keep your fabulous jewelry looking its best.
Take care when you wear
Be mindful of manual tasks like kitchen work, gardening and housecleaning. Ideally, you should remove your jewelry for these activities to prevent physical damage or exposure to chemicals that could be present in cleaning fluids. Contact sports are another activity that could damage your jewelry and even cause injury to you. Take a time-out to safely store your jewelry before playing.
Makeup, hairspray, perfumes and lotion can also potentially damage jewelry. Be sure to apply these before putting on your jewelry to prolong its life. Find a safe place to store your jewelry when you go to a swimming pool or spa. Not only will you be less likely to lose your jewelry, you’ll also protect it from pool chemicals that often react with metals.
keep it clean
Whenever possible, drop by for a complimentary cleaning of your baubles. We’d love to see you and get your favorites clean and sparkly!
When you can’t stop in, use a soft toothbrush and warm, soapy solution to gently clean your jewelry. Never use soap with bleach to clean your jewelry! Be sure to dry sterling silver thoroughly to help prevent tarnishing.
If your jewelry looks cracked or broken, or a stone seems loose, avoid cleaning it, which could cause further damage. Just bring your jewelry in and we’ll happily repair it for you. In fact, we suggest you bring in your high-value items regularly to be inspected for damage or loose stones.
Store it safely
Store your jewelry in a way that prevents pieces from moving and rubbing against one another. Try to do the same while traveling. All jewelry purchased at I.Gorman Jewelers comes with a complimentary appraisal. Always keep your appraisal document handy, but in a separate location from your jewelry, just in case of a loss or theft.
Know Your Gemstones
Unlike diamonds that are prized for their absence of color, you’ll probably fall in love with a gemstone expressly for its beautiful color.
Sapphires, rubies and other gemstones are chosen primarily by three criteria: hue, tone and saturation. Hue is the basic color of a stone, e.g., is it red or blue? Tone is the relative lightness or darkness of the color. Saturation is the color’s intensity or dullness. Gemstones are cut in ways that bring out their individual beauty. A cutter will make adjustments to maximize the stone’s appearance and bring it into an ideal color range. In combination, these factors create the nuanced color you see in each stone. It’s important to inquire about enhancements and treatments on any gemstones you’re considering. While most are permanent, and standard practice to enhance a stone’s beauty, there are a few cases where treated gemstones can be damaged by wear or repair.
Heat treatment, or annealing, is the most common treatment. Essentially, it’s a continuation of the natural exposure to high temperatures that formed the gemstone originally. In most stones, the color is brought closer to the ideal shade—a permanent result. Heat treatments are usually detected by their effects on naturally occurring inclusions. Heat-treated stones can be damaged under the intense heat of jewelry repair.
Fracture Filling is a method of filling a stone’s cavities or crevices with a foreign material. The goal depends on the gemstone. In diamonds, fracture filling can make inclusions less visible, even though they are still present. White or off-white inclusions can become almost invisible. In colored stones, fracture filling can fill a stone’s “dead spots,” making the overall color more vibrant and even. Some techniques for this treatment are more permanent than others, so be sure to get full disclosure.
Irradiation is used to enhance a stone’s color and optical properties by exposing it to ionizing radiation. You might hesitate to wear jewelry that’s been exposed to radioactivity; but the amount of exposure is minimal and regulations protect consumers against any health hazards from residual radioactivity. Irradiated stones can be affected by the heat of a jeweler’s torch. In some cases, they can fade with too much direct sunlight.
Guide to Metals
A quick note about the term “alloy.” The metals in most fine jewelry are actually combinations of several different metals, known as alloys. Whenever we mention alloys, we’ll tell you the main metal and other secondary metals used.
Treasured by many cultures for thousands of years, gold is the most traditional metal used in fine jewelry. Because of its extreme malleability in its purest form, gold is alloyed in a variety of purities. The karatage of gold tells you the proportion of pure gold. As you’d expect, higher karat gold tends to be more expensive.
- Some common gold alloys:
- 14K = 58.5% pure gold
- 18K = 75% pure gold
- 22K = 91.5% pure gold
- 24K = 100% pure gold
The non-gold portion of an alloy may be made up of a variety of metals including silver, copper, nickel and zinc. It’s the mix of alloys that determines the color of the gold. For example, 18K gold with a higher proportion of copper will likely be a rose gold. Keep in mind that all jewelers and designers have their own recipes for a particular alloy. So “18K yellow gold” may not always be the exact same color.
No matter which alloy and karatage you choose, gold is best known for its rich color and warmth. So, if you like a variety of rich color options, gold is the perfect choice for your fine jewelry, engagement ring or wedding band.
White Gold: Because the natural, buttery yellow color of pure gold can only be “diluted” so far with alloys, white gold is often plated in rhodium for a white color similar to unplated platinum. This plating needs to be redone when normal wear slowly removes the rhodium plating, revealing the white gold’s natural, off-white color. The color difference is very, very subtle. You’ll most likely notice it on the parts that get the most wear and tear, like the back of a ring.
Allergies: Allergies to gold jewelry are not uncommon. However, most are actually due to the nickel content, not the gold itself. If you have a nickel allergy, please ask which of our collections use nickel-free gold alloys.
Platinum is a naturally bright, white metal used in a variety of jewelry. Unlike gold, platinum jewelry is often 90 - 95% pure. In other words, only 5 - 10% of its content weight can come from other metals added to increase its durability. Platinum is known as the densest and most luxurious of metals and is especially desirable for its true white sheen. Another characteristic: platinum doesn’t lose metal when scratched, so it tends not to thin out over long periods of wear. It does scratch, however, and develops a patina with long wear. Most people describe this patina as a “foggy” or “subdued” finish. You may prefer to keep the look of this patina, but you can always polish platinum jewelry back to its original finish. If you prefer a substantial feel and a true white, hypoallergenic metal, platinum is the choice for you!
Part of the Platinum Group Metals, palladium touts many of the same advantages as platinum. While you’ll most often find it in an alloy that’s 95% pure, palladium can be found in a number of alloys that range from 20 – 95% purity. Its true white color, very high durability and strong scratch resistance make this versatile metal a great option for a variety of jewelry pieces. While palladium is slightly different in tone than platinum – you’ll need to squint to see it’s very slightly grey - its scratch resistance and metal retention are on par with platinum. This metal is a great choice if you have an active lifestyle and want a precious white metal that can withstand a good deal of wear and tear.
Sterling silver is a precious, lustrous metal minus the price tag of gold or platinum. This fabulous alloy is 92.5% pure silver and 7.5% alloy. Jewelers love it for its amazing workability. But sterling silver does require some maintenance on the wearer’s part, as it can tarnish over time and scratches easily due to its natural softness. We think you’ll find sterling silver a great option for stunning and dramatic fashion jewelry pieces.
Durable, lightweight and affordable, stainless steel is a great metal choice for someone with an active lifestyle. Slightly more grey in color than platinum or palladium, stainless steel often looks spectacular in modern designs and is extremely popular in designs for men.
We take pride in our cutting-edge designer collections made from materials that are new and exciting in the world of jewelry. Here are a few we’d love to show you.
This dark, finely textured material is actually a composite of fine strands of carbon fiber, making it extremely durable. In fact, it’s often used in high-tech equipment where durability is essential. In jewelry, carbon fiber’s unusually light weight creates delightfully wearable pieces.
Want to wear jewelry made from a material that’s truly out of this world? Meteorite, comprised mainly of nickel, has a beautiful, subtle crystalline texture with a white metallic sheen. It’s stain- resistant, rust-resistant and billions of years old—a plus for those who like jewelry from bygone eras. You’ll find meteorite in our wedding band collection by Chris Ploof.