When it comes to buying jewellery, there are so many types of stones, finishes, styles and materials to choose from, it can be hard to know where to start. In this guide, we take you through everything you need to know, from helping you find the right ring size to caring for your jewellery.
Silver is the most common of the precious metals. It is popular and not as expensive as gold, although stronger and lighter in weight. However, it can tarnish as well as scratch or bend easily. Sterling silver consists of 92.5% silver and 7.5% base metal for strength.
All our fine gold jewellery comes in 9, 14, 18 or 24 carat gold. We also do gold-plated jewellery, which is when a layer of gold covers silver or another base metal.
14, 18, or 22 carat gold over sterling silver is called vermeil. To be considered vermeil, the gold must be at least 10 carat and 2.5 micrometres thick. There's also gold filled jewellery, which has a thicker (one carat) layer of gold over the underlying metal.
Platinum is the most expensive precious metal. It is very strong and has a white, silver colour making it ideal as a mount for diamonds. This is a popular metal for engagement and wedding rings and has become increasingly fashionable in recent years.
Some customers may be allergic to the nickel content in jewellery. As jewellery is made from a mixture of metals, products might not be entirely nickel free. In order to conform to the 'nickel safe' standard, manufacturers ensure that the nickel content is kept to a low level. All jewellery now produced is deemed nickel safe, however, customers who react strongly to nickel should buy gold of a high carat.
To clean stones, wipe with a moist cloth after each wear. Protect them from exposure to hair spray, perfume or cosmetics as certain chemicals can damage semi-precious stones over time. It's best to store them in separate fabric pouches or wrap them in pieces of soft fabric to prevent scratching. You can also keep them safe in a jewellery box.
Wearing pearls keeps them lustrous and iridescent as the natural oils from your skin will give them shine and keep them protected.Put pearls on last when getting ready and make them the first thing you take off when back home. Keep them away from household chemicals including perfume, makeup and hairspray as they can dull the lustre. Store pearls in soft fabric bags separately from other jewellery to avoid scratching their tender surfaces.
If silver hasn't been worn for a while, you'll notice it takes on a dark, grey-black layer. This is a sulfide build-up due to a chemical reaction that occurs when silver is exposed to the air and humidity.
When cleaning silver, protect your hands with waterproof gloves or silver polishing mitts. Then use a silver dip or a silver polish to clean tarnished silver, always following the manufacturer's instructions. You can also use a silver cloth or a sunshine cloth. There are also many homemade recipes that can be used to clean silver, but it is always wise to test the method on the back of a piece of jewellery.
To add sparkle back to gold and diamond jewellery, try our special jewellery cleaner that's suitable for gold, platinum, diamonds and most other precious stones.
However careful you are, your jewellery will inevitably gather dirt and residue from hand lotion, hairstyling products, human skin and oil which will, over time, cause your diamond to sparkle less brightly. The good news is that this is easily remedied at home with very little cost or effort.
Immerse the piece in warm water with a little gentle household detergent e.g. washing up liquid or a non-conditioning shampoo. Once the warm water has loosened the oils scrub gently with a small brush, an old, soft toothbrush is ideal.
Take care to clean under the stone where oils and dirt gather.
Finally, pat dry with a clean cloth and leave to air dry thoroughly before buffing softly with a lint-free cloth.
Gold rings can acquire scratches over the years, particularly in higher carat golds, which are softer. A jeweller can repair these, although there will be a slight loss of metal as the surface will be buffed over. White Gold is usually plated with Rhodium, a metal from the platinum family, for extra lustre, protection and 'whiteness'. You may wish to have your White Gold jewellery re-coated after a few years to retain its original lustre and keep it bright and white continuously.
Platinum rings may also acquire scratches that a jeweller can repair. The scratches on Platinum will not cause the same metal loss, however, and the result of expert repairs will generally be reassuringly smooth.
Palladium is the hardest metal used in the manufacture of jewellery and should be relatively impervious to scratches. None of these metals are subject to tarnishing.
It is a good idea to have your jewellery cleaned professionally once a year, they should also ensure prongs and mountings are secure. It is advisable to entrust your jewellery to an expert, rather than to try and clean it yourself in any other way than gentle soapy water as described above.
When not wearing your jewellery, it is best to keep it in a jewellery box or roll. Each item should be individually stored in a soft bag. The most common cause of scratches and suface damage to jewellery is contact with other pieces of jewellery.
Finally, although your jewellery may have a value to you that cannot be replaced, it is still essential to insure your items. Our engagement ring and diamond experts will be delighted to guide you through the options for insuring your engagement ring, and they are available for live chat (online, on the phone or in person) 7 days a week. You can also email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for advice.
Conversion chart for ring sizes