Jewelry is expensive and can last for multiple generations, if you take care of it properly. Part of that care is getting it professionally cleaned. A professional cleaning is more than just making it shine like new again. It keeps your piece in good repair.
With a professional cleaning, you get an inspection, polishing, ultrasonic cleaning (unless the pieces cannot tolerate it), and steaming. Let's look at each step more in-depth.
Jewelry that is worn every day, such as a wedding band, will get banged up and scratched over time. Oils from your skin, as well as hand creams, lotions, and other dirt, dull the appearance of jewelry and reduce the sparkle. But the damage can be more than cosmetic. Over time, stones can become loose inside of the setting due to dirt building up between the prongs, or a bump knocking one just right. This kind of damage is very hard to see with the naked eye.
All professional jewelry inspections start with examining the piece under a microscope for damage. Think of it like inspecting teeth. Each stone needs to be firmly set before it can be cleaned safely. If they aren’t, then the piece will need to be repaired first.
If everything looks good under the microscope, the next step is polishing. Professional jewelers use a series of polishing discs and spindles to remove scratches; They match the right polishing tool to the right metals and stones. Some stones can actually get scratched if you use the wrong polishing tool, technique, or abrasive on them. We have occasionally received pieces where people tried to polish their jewelry at home and didn’t know how to do it properly. These pieces are often heavily scratched and may even require repair.
Over time, gunk can and will build up on any piece of jewelry that you wear regularly. For most pieces, ultrasonic cleaning is used to knock off tiny particles of dirt between stones, while still preserving the patina of an older piece. The jewelry is hung in a special bath and struck with powerful ultrasonic waves which shake the dirt off. These waves can reach places a human cleaner would have difficulty reaching, like underneath a prong.
However, not all pieces are suitable for ultrasonic cleaning. Pearls, emeralds, and opals, for instance, can actually dissolve in an ultrasonic bath! In these cases, jewelers use alternative methods to preserve the piece while still eliminating dirt.
Finally, high-powered steam is used to rinse any solvents or remaining dirt particles off of the piece that didn’t get eliminated with the ultrasonic machine. Some steam cleaners can also sterilize a piece. Steam is the choice for general cleaning when an ultrasonic machine might damage a setting.
What you get at the end of this process is a piece that looks as good as the day you bought it. A regular cleaning can keep your investment looking great. Many jewelers recommend a cleaning once every four months. In fact, we require regular cleanings to take advantage of our lifetime warranty. Our thrice-yearly inspections can catch a lot of problems before they knock a stone out of its setting. Most cleanings take less than 10 minutes to complete per piece using our professional equipment.
Bring your jewelry in for professional cleaning at Grogan Jewelers!