Most women have mastered the art of quick wardrobe fixes, but when it comes to jewelry, some of us need a refresher course!
Problem: Your silver jewelry is tarnished.
Solution: You can always use jewelry cleaner, but a simple anti-tarnish polishing cloth will do the trick, not to mention buff and shine. Also, on the "bright" side, you won't have to worry about fumes, or whether or not there are pearls and other gems that shouldn't be dipped into the cleaner. Keep in mind that chains are a bit more difficult to clean (you can't get inside of the links), but there should still be a noticeable difference. Most polishing cloths can also be used on 14K and 18K gold, but it's always best to double check the label.
Connoisseurs UltraSoft Jewelry Polishing Cloth Set, $14.99
Problem: Your brushed or satin-finished jewelry is looking more high-polished than matte.
Solution: If you expose them to water frequently (think in the shower), contemporary finishes tend to wear off over time. To matte or dull your bauble, gently rub it with an ultra fine, steel wool pad, then buff with the colored side of a polishing cloth. This fix works best on platinum and gold.
Related: What Your Jewelry Says About You
Problem: You love your necklace, but wish it was shorter...or longer...depending on your outfit!
Solution: In a pinch, hook safety pins or fishing wire through the jump ring on one side of your necklace, then string it through the hole in the clasp on the other. Adjust as needed. (This fix works best if you have long hair and plan on wearing it down.) Aim to use wire or pins that match the color of the chain (i.e. silver or gold). You can also have a jeweler add an extension chain - traditionally about 2 ½ inches – to give you more versatility.
Problem: The chain or clasp on your pendant breaks.
Solution: For a new, more modern look, string the charms or medallions onto a piece of satin, leather, or suede cord. Make sure to knot the ends of the cord after you slip the pendant on, then tie the necklace securely (at least twice) around your neck. Only a jeweler can have the original chain or clasp soldered back to its original state.
Problem: Your diamonds look dull and dirty.
Solution: Instead of using a jewelry cleaner, spray a little Windex on a toothbrush, then rub gently over the diamond and the setting. Afterwards, with the drain closed, put the piece in a small strainer and run it under hot water. If you have more time, boil some water in a pot, pour it into a coffee mug and place your ring inside, stirring occasionally to loosen the dirt. Run the jewel under cold water and dry it with a soft paper towel.
Problem: Your necklace is tangled.
Solution: Lay the necklace flat. Use a very thin pair of tweezers to loosen up the tangles and work them through the chain. For smaller chains, you can use the point of a safety pin or even an earring back! The more kinks you work out while the necklace is flat, the better. At some point, you'll need to lift the chain to untangle the remaining knots.
When to leave it to the pros....
Problem: Your strand of pearls or beads snaps.
Solution: These will need to be restrung by a professional stringer or jeweler. Make sure to collect all of the beads!
Problem: You lose an earring that you can't be replaced.
Solution: Have your jeweler transform the remaining earring (whether its a drop or stud) into a charm or pendant instead.
Problem: Precious stones are coming loose from their settings.
Solution: Hold your bauble up to your ear and shake it. If you hear it rattle, that most likely means that the setting needs to be tightened. Take it off, put it into a plastic baggy, and bring it to a jeweler.
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Beth Bernstein has been a veteran of the jewelry industry for twenty years–as a writer–reporting on the cultural influences, designers, trends and history that shape this wearable art form and offering tips and ‘how to’ articles on buying and collecting jewelry. She also own a consulting firm, which specializes in personal jewelry shopping for private clients and offers merchandising, marketing and branding for fine jewelers and retailers. “My Charmed Life: Rocky Romances, Precious Family Connections and Searching for a Band of Gold” is Bernstein’s first book.