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Your Jewelry Guide: Abusing Fine Jewelry

Abusing Fine Jewelry

Do you unknowingly abuse your fine jewelry? The answer may surprise you.

Diamonds Are NOT Necessarily “Forever”

diamondTake a diamond ring for instance – your engagement ring.  “Diamonds Are Forever” (like your love); or that, at least, is what we have been easily taught to think because it is comforting to think. Diamonds are listed at the top of “hardness” on the Moh’s scale of the earth’s rocks and minerals. That means that nothing can harm them – or does it?

Look here. Belief in the “hardness” factor that gives you such freedom to wear your ring anywhere, anytime, doesn’t mean it is indestructible. Sure, a diamond is listed as the hardest substance on earth on the Moh’s scale. But that hardness factor simply means that a diamond can scratch any other substance on earth, but no substance (except another diamond) can scratch a diamond. Now, that’s a little different than being indestructible.

That DeBeers advertising slogan / 007 movie theme song “Diamonds Are Forever” is not necessarily so. A diamond can be scratched (by another diamond coming into contact with it). A diamond can be chipped; and that is probably going on with your diamond ring even as we speak. A diamond can shatter from even a small encounter with another object if that contact occurs in just the right place to impact a growth pattern or other characteristic of that particular stone.

Kinda takes the fun out of it, doesn’t it? Your diamonds and diamond jewelry must be cared for and maintained. Let’s explore the ways you can abuse your diamond ring

Abuse #1 Lack of Maintenance

As you wear your diamond ring, year after year, the simple act of having it on your finger subjects it to much activity that can become abuse if it isn’t counteracted by maintenance. The best thing you can do is take your rings off and look at them closely. Mountings can be continually damaged by even sedentary repetitive tasks such as keyboarding or data input. That clackity-clack you hear as you type, or play a music instrument such as piano or guitar is doing minute damage to your gold settings and, possibly to your stones as well.

It is very important that you self-check the jewelry you tend to wear a lot every once in a while and, for pieces that are very valuable or have extreme sentimental value to you, you should have them checked for you (and cleaned) by a jeweler or goldsmith you can trust.

Abuse #2 Prong Number

Prices of gemstones are remarkably high, and not likely to trend downward to any extent. If you are privileged to own a very nice diamond, or have an occasion coming up when you may buy, give, or be given a nice diamond, let me talk a bit about mountings and prongs. The choice of the wrong mounting can also be unintentional abuse of fine jewelry. Here’s what I mean:

There are many choices you have when mounting a diamond in a piece of jewelry, but let’s deal with pronged mountings. Here is some unintentional abuse. Look at these illustrations of diamonds in the most popular prong settings – 3-prongs and 4-prongs.

diamond 3 prong

If you mount your valuable diamond in one of these settings, look what you are asking to hold your diamond. See those thin, little slivers of metal? That is what is holding your valuable diamond against the world.

Now, choose one of these settings and imagine that one prong (only one) has broken off or bent from some activity where you caught your hand or your glove on something. In each of these instances the diamond will have nothing holding it in the mounting — only one prong stands between owning your valuable diamond and losing it — one prong. It doesn’t matter what fancy name they give a 3-prong and 4-prong mounting (Martini, Tiffany); placing your valuable stones in such a mounting puts them in jeopardy.

And, remember gold is a relatively soft metal, which is why it is mixed with an alloy – to strengthen it. So. If you choose to have your ring made from 18kt gold (I prefer 14kt for strength), the mounting will be soft. 18kt gold is soft enough that most bracelets, no matter the worth of the stones, are made with 14kt.

It stands to reason that if you do choose to mount your valuable stone in 18kt gold with a 3 or 4 prong setting, checking and maintaining that setting is absolutely essential to keeping that stone for you to enjoy for as many years as you wish.

diamond 6 prongIn my role as Your Jewelry Guide, my suggested mounting for a valuable stone (be it monetary or sentimental value) is a 6-prong style.

Notice that it would take the loss of at least two prongs to open that setting to where the stone could work its way out of the mounting. And, even with the loss or severe bending of two prongs, there would be enough slight pressure from the other four prongs to anchor that stone somewhat where its movements were hampered severely. (Unlike a 4-prong mounting where there is only three prongs to anchor and a 3-prong mounting where the stone would be absolutely free to leave the mounting after loss, or even bending, of only one prong.

Abuse #3 Subjecting Your Jewelry to Chemicals

I borrow this story from Robert James, FGA, GG.

In discussing the interesting and sometimes strange “claims” for damaged and stolen goods, Mr. James spoke of one of the strangest to his knowledge (and he has dealt with some strange ones).

It appears that a person claimed that her diamond rings were stolen, but the thief left her diamonds. After investigation, it turned out that she had placed her diamond rings in a container to soak in chlorine bleach and the action of that powerful chemical dissolved the gold and alloy into a solution, but left the diamonds in the bottom of the container.

Wow! Now there is some unintentional abuse if there ever was unintentional abuse! Robert went on to say that appraisers know when a person has a swimming pool or frequents swimming pools. Their gold jewelry will be corroded as the metal is eaten away by the chemical.

My, oh my, what we don’t do!

Please take care of the beautiful and valuable jewelry you are privileged to own.