Category: Jewelry Maintainance

Comparing Gold, Titanium, Cobalt Chrome, & Tungsten

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When men come in to the store to make their decision on a wedding band, most of them think that the decision will be an easy one.   They don’t know that men’s bands come in so many different metals.  Here are the pros and cons of some of the most popular metals.

  • GOLD(14 or 18 karat)   PROS:  1) As a precious metal it has value and has a better chance of retaining its value: 2) Can be soldered, sized, and re-formed by jewelers, so you don’t have to replace your ring if you gain/lose 20 pounds;  3) Has a nice weight to it, not too heavy but not too light.  CONS: 1) More expensive than non-precious metals; 2) Softer metal, so it scratches. (At the same time, jewelers know how to buff gold and get it back to its former glory.)

  • TITANIUM PROS: 1) Very inexpensive (You can buy a wedding band for $100.);  2) Resists scratching better than gold; 3) Hypoallergenic, so it won’t react with sensitive skin; 4) Natural rather than a compound metal.  CONS: 1) Light weight, so it has kind of a “cheap” feel; 2) Cannot be soldered or sized.

  • COBALT CHROME PROS: 1) Looks and feels like white gold, because it has a similar weight and color; 2) Hypoallergenic; 3) Resists scratching even better than titanium. CONS: 1) More expensive than titanium, but less expensive than gold;   2) Cannot be sized or soldered.

  • TUNGSTEN CARBIDE (aka TUNGSTEN) PROS: 1) Extremely scratch resistant; 2) Comes in different colors–white, black, and gray; 3) Hypoallergenic; 4) Very inexpensive CONS: 1) Cannot be soldered or sized; 2) Cannot be cut off your finger in an emergency, but instead must be cracked using vise grips; 3) Can shatter if dropped; 4) Heavy weight, so can feel uncomfortable.

 

To give you an example of cost, I called a company we work with and asked for prices on a basic men’s ring, size 10.  The titanium version was $105, the cobalt chrome was $225, and the 14 karat white gold version was $850.  They didn’t make a tungsten carbide version, and there’s a very good reason for that.

The man who patented tungsten carbide is currently involved with many lawsuits because of what he calls “copy-cat” Chinese manufacturers.  Tungsten carbide rings are either made in China and exported to the U.S., or they are made by companies that pay royalties to the inventor.  It’s a complicated situation, and the company we work with doesn’t want to be involved.  However, the company makes rings out of tungsten ceramic, which is a different compound than tungsten carbide.

There’s a lot to know about men’s wedding bands, and picking the metal is one of the main decisions each couple must make.  My suggestion is to pick a precious metal like gold, or even platinum.   Your ring is a symbol of your union, which you plan to have for the rest of your life.  You’ll be happier with a timeless, classic ring that can also be with you through life.

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How to Care for Organic Gemstones

| September 17, 2015 | Reply

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Gems like pearl, coral, ivory, shell, or amber have very different beginnings than inorganic gemstones like ruby or diamond.  Organic gems were formed from biological processes and, though they are strong enough to be set in jewelry, they require special care and cleaning.

When cleaning your jewelry, never use harsh soap or chemical jewelry cleaner on organic gems.  Don’t use an ultrasonic cleaner or steam cleaner.  You can dampen a soft cloth, like flannel or microfiber, with water or mild soapy water, and run the cloth over the gems.  Then you should dry quickly with another clean, soft cloth.  Never soak an organic gem because of its porosity.

Organic gems shouldn’t be subjected for long to strong light or heat.  Drastic changes in temperature or humidity are bad for them as well.  Sunlight can bleach gems like ivory, destroying the yellow patina which shows age and makes the ivory more valuable.  Heat and high humidity can cause crazing or discoloration.

At the same time, too little humidity is bad for organic gems.  If your gems are very dried out, you can hydrate them with a little mineral oil.  Some people recommend doing this once a year.  Put it on and take it off with a soft cloth.  Do not soak it in mineral oil, but, if the piece is very dehydrated, you can wrap it in a cloth dampened with mineral oil, and let it sit overnight.  Just make sure to wipe off any excess oil in the morning.

Human oils are moisturizing for organic gems.  But when you remove your jewelry, it’s best to wipe it down with a clean cloth.  Put jewelry on after you’ve put on your make-up, hairspray, and perfume.  And don’t wear these gems if it’s a really hot day–sweat has a chemical component to it that can stain some organic gems.  If you’re going to be cooking, cleaning or doing any activity involving vinegar, bleach, or detergents, take your jewelry off.

Finally, when storing your jewelry, it’s best to keep organic gems in a protected soft pouch or tissue paper to protect them from being scratched.  Do not, however, store them in a plastic pouch.  The plastic can emit a chemical that can cause a pearl’s surface to deteriorate. Storing jewelry in a safety deposit box or safe can dry out organic gemstones.  Place a small container of water in the lock box, and be sure to open the box regularly to allow air circulation.

After all this, it may sound like organic gems aren’t worth the work!  But once you get in the habit of caring for your organic gems, it won’t seem like work.  They are definitely worth the extra care!

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“Free” Tips for Taking Care of Your Jewelry

| December 28, 2014 | Reply

Like most things you own, jewelry needs a little maintenance. You wouldn’t drive your car without oil changes. You wouldn’t wear your clothes without washing them. Your jewelry needs a little care, too. But jewelry maintenance doesn’t have to take up much time or money. These FIVE TIPS will help you keep your jewelry healthy at no cost to you.

KEEP JEWELRY SEPARATED

Keep your pieces of jewelry from potentially scratching each other while they are being stored. This seems like such a simple thing, but diamonds, especially, are really hard and can scratch softer gemstones and metals. It’s so easy to throw all your jewelry into a bag when you’re traveling, but that’s when a lot of gemstone abrasion happens. Keep jewelry in individual little bags or in a jewelry box with separate compartments. Necklaces should be hung up when not around your neck. Otherwise they can get kinked or tangled.

PROFESSIONALLY CLEAN JEWELRY

Get your finer pieces jewelry professionally cleaned at a store, like Dearborn Jewelers, that offers free cleaning. You will be amazed at how your engagement and wedding rings sparkle after they go through the ultra sonic cleaner! Nothing works better on diamond jewelry. But not all jewelry is cleaned the same way. We’ve had people bring in the disasterous results of self-cleaning their jewelry in ways that weren’t appropriate for the piece. Many times we’re able to rectify the situation, but we can’t erase the unnecessary panic you went through when you saw your favorite bracelet or ring blackened and dull. Cleaning at our store usually takes less than 10 minutes, and you’ll feel more confident when it’s being done by professionals.

HAVE CLASPS AND PRONGS CHECKED

While you’re in the store getting your rings cleaned, have the jewelry professional check the prongs under a microscope. Small metal prongs keep gemstones from falling out of their settings. Because metal does wear over time, especially on rings that naturally get banged or scratched more than pendants or earrings, these prongs become thinner, weaker, and less able to do their job. While re-tipping original prongs or replacing old prongs is not a free service, it is free to have your prongs checked so that you know their current capability. We suggest doing so once a year. Many people choose a specific time of year, like their anniversary or birthday, to remind them to take advantage of this service.

CLEANING PEARLS

Some gemstones require a little extra care. We recently hosted the Pearl Goddess, Betty Sue King, and she suggests placing your strand of pearls in a soft, slightly dampened cloth, then blotting the pearls to remove oils.  Too much water will weaken the material on which the pearls are strung, but leaving your body oils on the pearls can eat away at their nacre. Do not pull on the strand as you clean the pearls.  Teri, at Dearborn Jewelers, always says that her pearls are “the last thing she puts on in the morning and the first thing she takes off in the evening.” NEVER spray hairspray while wearing pearls!

SPECIAL CARE FOR OPALS

Opals naturally have a water content of around 3 – 10%, and, if they get too dried out, they can crack or craze. It gets so dry here in Michigan during the winter. I like to keep my opal in a little airtight bag with a dampened cotton ball or piece of cloth. I’ve heard terrible stories of opals that cracked while being stored in safety deposit boxes, which are kept extremely dry. Opals are stunning, and they are worth the extra care. Just remember that they like a little, but not too much water! It is not good to bathe an opal doublet or triplet in water. The glue between will layers will be weakened.

Maintaining your pieces with these free and simple tips can help your jewelry have a long and healthy life.