Jewelry Care

“Elegance is not dependent on money. The most important of all is care. Care in choosing your clothes. Care in wearing them. Care in keeping them.”  Christian Dior

Please follow these simple rules:Leon Mege Cleaning instruction

  • Store all your jewelry pieces separate from one another to avoid any possibility of abrasion or damage. Ideally, place each piece in an individual compartment or a pouch.
  • Do not wear jewelry while exercising, swimming, gardening, mechanical bull riding, white-knuckle driving, etc. In other words, when it gets exposed, it to repeated knocking and scratching.
  • Any gemstone, including a diamond, can chip if you hit it hard, and at a certain angle.
  • Emeralds, opals, and other stones such as feldspar (moonstones) are particularly delicate and easily damaged.
  • Protect your jewelry from extreme temperatures. Protect opals from direct sunlight. They will dry out and crack.
  • Avoid exposing colored stones to harsh chemicals or abrasives, nail polish remover, perfumes, or hairspray.

The Basics

You start damaging a piece of jewelry the very day you slide it on your finger. How long it is going to last is literally in your hands.

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To ensure that your jewelry stays as beautiful as the day you bought it make sure to bring it to us for a free complimentary cleaning and inspection at least once a year to maintain its radiance and sparkle. If you go to a local store for cleaning, please warn them about their responsibility to check for loose stones before they hand your jewelry back to you.

Keeping diamond sterile is next to impossible. Diamonds have a curious property called lipophilia (attraction to grease) that causes the oily film to spread over the entire diamond surface. The film traps the dust particles which form a dirt layer. Only consistent maintenance and cleaning at regular intervals will imbue the significance and perceived beauty of the stone.

Regular cleaning prevents the greasy build-up from accumulating and hardening underneath a stone. Once the organic deposits from makeup, lotions, and perspiration are calcified and hardened, removing them becomes a challenge. Even for a jeweler equipped with professional-grade cleaning tools.

Diamonds appear one or two color grades lower when dirty, up to 20% loss of value. Without proper upkeep, they look repulsive instead of dazzling and mystifying. 

You can minimize the exposure to oils, lotions, and cosmetics by applying makeup before putting your jewelry on. 

Regardless of which cleaning method you use, remember that most gemstones can tolerate high heat. However, they will crack from a sudden drop in temperature. Always consult with a specialist or bring it to us for complimentary cleaning and inspection.

Soaking 

Routine cleaning (approximately twice a month) will bring the best results. An irregular cleaning, on the other hand, promotes the dirt’s build-up. Soaking your diamond jewelry overnight in water will soften the calcified deposits and make cleaning a breeze. 

Stones other than emeralds and pearls are safe to soak overnight. Emeralds are often impregnated with oil. Soaking will remove the oil so that the stone will lose its transparency. Immersing pearls in a water-based solution can disintegrate the knots and strings. Merely wiping the pearls with a soft cloth will do the trick.

Best cleaning method – using a soft toothbrush 

Dissolve a few drops of dishwashing liquid (any brand) in a cup of warm water. Optionally add a few drops of regular household ammonia. 

Gently brush jewelry using a soft toothbrush. Try to dislodge the dirt accumulated directly under the stones. Rinse with lukewarm water. Pat with a paper towel or use a hairdryer to dry. 

Pressurized air can be used for drying water remains. However, canned air cannot remove the greasy film, so it is unsuitable for cleaning jewelry.

Ultrasonic cleaner

A consumer-grade ultrasonic cleaner is suitable only for special occasions. Using it regularly is not recommended because ultrasound can loosen or even dislodge small stones from the setting. Yet, it is not powerful enough to dissolve the hardened deposits and grime stuck under the stones.

Two pieces should not be cleaned simultaneously – they will scratch each other. Pieces with flexible joints such as bracelets, necklaces, or earrings with hinged parts must be restrained to ensure that separate parts do not touch. 

Emeralds, opals, rare gemstones, heavily included, cracked, and fracture-filled stones should not be cleaned in ultrasonic. The internal integrity of a gemstone is a crucial element of deciding to subject the stone to ultrasound. 

Professional-grade ultrasonic has enough power to eradicate the dirt. However, it is the jeweler’s responsibility to check every stone after the cleaning. 

Ionic Cleaner

The ionic cleaner is not well suited to clean platinum and diamond jewelry. However, it is useful for removing tarnish from delicate jewelry with pearls and soft stones such as emeralds and turquoise.  It works by running a mild charge through a piece of jewelry immersed in a liquid cleaner. The process is very similar to electroplating, but the electric current flows in the opposite direction.

Steam

An industrial-strength steamer is a standard piece of equipment for every jeweler. A combination of ultrasound and steam is the best way to clean jewelry in a professional environment. 

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Steamers use water and electric heat to generate pressurized steam. Industrial steamers are expensive, bulky, and require regular maintenance. They are not practical and too dangerous for use at home. Consumer-grade steamer’s pressure is usually too low to remove hardened deposits. These toy-like steamers can be used only for freshening up jewelry or drying it after the cleaning.

Your new ring is beautiful. Your neighbors are green with envy, your best friend pops anti-depressants, and your coworkers are plotting against you. Now you have to make sure your crown jewel maintains its stunning look. Sit back, and take a jewelry safety course from people who make rings for a living.

Unlike clunky rings of the past, modern, elegant engagement rings require better care. An engagement ring with lots of tiny sparkling diamonds has a lower threshold for damage from occasional dings and bumps.

The Clapper

Some manage to destroy a ring in one evening. They would applaud so vigorously that the rings on both hands hit each other at a rate of up to four times per second. It is still less than 14 times per second the world’s fastest clapper Kent French can do, but nevertheless, every collision results in a small dent; hundreds of hits combined can destroy the ring.

Wear & Tear or Wear Till Tear?

Rings are made of solid metal or metal/gemstone composite without moving parts. Any defects, such as cracks or loose stones, manifest themselves within a week or two and can usually be fixed using a laser welder. After a month or two of wear, it is safe to assume any new problems are caused to unkind wear. As upsetting as it sounds, the only person who can be blamed for the damage is the owner.

Explaining to a client that his/her jewelry-wearing habits are causing the damage is a customer-relationship nightmare. Most clients are reasonable and fair in understanding the situation, but some do not take it well. The usual action is to repair or completely re-make the ring, followed by a stern warning to change your wearing habits. Alternatively, you might change the setting completely, usually to solitaire or a three-stone ring.

You should not feel bad about it. In the course of life, there are many events beyond your control. Your jeweler is like a family doctor – you see him no matter how embarrassing or mundane your problem is. Your trusted jeweler will always reward your customer loyalty by performing a repair at little or no cost or assisting in filing the insurance claim.

The Knucklehead

Here is a conversation at a jewelry counter repeated in this form or another more than once or twice. Customer: “I expect to wear my ring every day. I am an active person and do a lot of physical activities. I travel, I garden, and I exercise. Regardless, I do not want to take it off my finger for any reason. This is the way I am. Besides, somebody might assume I am still single if I don’t have the ring!”

Salesperson: “No problem at all, you can wear it non-stop; it’s well made. It’s a quality item, not the cheap knockoff you would buy on 47th Street.”

The salesperson just told her a lie. To close the sale, the salesperson will say whatever the customer wants to hear. A reputable salesperson will not hesitate to tell the inconvenient truth: micro pavé jewelry, although not fragile, has to be worn with more care than plain-vanilla non-pavé jewelry.

In your life (ideally), you get only one engagement ring. Choosing its style is difficult because you must assess your lifestyle many years into the future to ensure that it’s appropriate for just about every situation you might find yourself in – casual or formal. Imagine having to wear only one dress for the rest of your life. Which one would you choose: an evening gown or jeans? That is essentially the choice you make when you choose your engagement ring.

An evening dress is the equivalent of a micro pavé ring. It combines feminine elegance with delicate construction. A pair of khakis might stand for a plain solitaire. Do you prefer to show up at work wearing a sheer designer dress or have a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant sporting sturdy overalls? The answer seems to be simple, but it’s not.

Unfortunately, there is no “in-between” option; it’s either one or the other. To find a balance between the beauties of a delicate micro pavé ring and the durability of a shopping mall clunker, we must walk a fine line.

In our work at Leon Mege, we tend to be drawn to the side of beauty at the expense of strength. Delicate but beautiful micro pavé does require some amount of sacrifice. Choose jewelry that aligns with your lifestyle and comfort zone. Its longevity depends on your care and constant awareness.

It is not an appliance. It is impossible to avoid contact between your ring and hard objects during the day, but this is not required. By being alert and conscious, one can wear a micro pavé ring for 20-30 years, which will look new. However, if the advice is not heeded, evidence of damage might become noticeable within a few weeks.

Very few people admit to being clumsy or rough with their jewelry. They might not even be aware of it. The damage to jewelry goes beyond the usual dents and scuffs. The ring might get bent, warp, have loose or lost stones, or even break apart. The usual cause – is mistreatment, abuse, rough handling, applying excessive force, and friction.

The moment you forget the ring is on your finger is the moment that will be the beginning of its demise. By being naturally cautious of your movements and actions, you will avoid many headaches in the future.

Diamonds

Our diamond cutters make the most beautiful diamonds of every shape and cut

Custom Work

At Leon Mege, we have over 40 years of experience making custom jewelry. Leon Mege is a pioneer in forging platinum jewelry by hand.

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Jewelry etiquette by Leon Mege

It’s OK to wear a wedding band on any hand you like. Wearing a wedding and engagement ring on the same hand is not backed up by any tradition. Most Americans believe a wedding band should go on the left hand’s fourth finger. This belief has existed since at least the fifteenth century and is based on an outdated mix of ethnic, cultural, and religious traditions that have changed many times throughout history. 

According to Western lore, the left hand’s fourth finger is the weakest and cannot be used independently. Male-centric culture still expects women to wear the band on the left hand’s fourth finger to show subjugation to their husbands. The chauvinistic residue is upheld by the old wife’s tale about a seventh-century burial containing human remains with a gold ring that resembles a wedding band on the left hand.

There is a practical reason for wearing an engagement ring on the left hand because it helps to keep the ring out of harm’s way. Most people are right-handed and use their left hand less often. Unlike a thumb or an index finger, the ring finger is the least used and protected on both sides by the little and middle fingers.

Wearing both rings next to each other will cause damage. The extent and speed of the damage depend on many circumstances. It happens faster when the rings are loose on the finger. When the rings fit tight, there is less movement, and the damage is accumulated slowly. Even then, the rings oscillate on a finger and grind each other.

Even rings modified to fit flush are susceptible to damage unless they are permanently welded to each other. Direct contact between gemstones causes the most extensive and usually irreparable damage. Stones-against-metal or metal-against-metal friction causes the parts holding the ring together to weaken and eventually crack.

The damage manifests itself in several ways. A wedding band can chew through the engagement ring basket, prongs, and gallery, eventually carving a tunnel that looks purposely made. Often an engagement ring rips off the beads holding diamonds on the top of the wedding band, causing them to fall.

We strongly advise wearing engagement and wedding rings on two different hands to preserve their precious uniqueness and beauty. Of course, it’s OK to join both rings for special occasions, but continuous wear will inevitably wreck at least one.

Both rings can be permanently attached to each other (welded, soldered, or fused) into one unified ring. This is a practical option for those who always wear both rings together. However, it makes little sense because the result looks like an engagement ring with a diamond set off-center.

How to wear a wedding band and engagement ring

Do we need to combine the engagement and wedding rings once married? A wedding band next to an engagement ring feels more like an unnecessary extension that steals attention away from it. In fact, with age, most people tend to wear a wedding band solo.

Traditional engagement rings typically have one dominant stone, which either stands alone or is surrounded by additional smaller stones. An engagement ring is usually given as part of the proposal, or if not, at an early point in the engagement.

Modern brides demand more say in the choice and design of the rings and are open to wearing one at a time.

An engagement ring (a betrothal ring) is a mark indicating that the person is engaged to be married. Historically, it served as a token of financial commitment and a placeholder for virginity. Most engagement rings typically have one dominant stone, usually a diamond, symbolizing purity, love, passion, and closeness between partners. An engagement ring is an essential element of the proposal, a cornerstone of a healthy marriage.

Traditionally a wedding ring is a uniform gold or platinum band exchanged at the wedding ceremony as the official symbol of the union of marriage and worn from then on. A diamond-encrusted eternity band is a recent invention made possible by a glut of very small machine-cut diamonds. A wedding ring signifies eternal love, commitment, and happiness.

A wedding band sitting flush with an engagement ring is not recognized as a separate piece, defeating its primary purpose of a marriage symbol. A wedding band designed to fit flush is visually an inseparable part of the engagement ring. It makes the engagement ring look thick and lopsided.

Wearing a band that curves around an engagement ring seems convenient, but it isn’t. Firstly, a curved wedding band looks silly without the engagement ring next to it. Secondly, the addition severely compromises the elegance of a fine engagement ring. The curved border looks awkward and forced, like a car with a mattress tied to its roof.

Even a traditional eternity band can affect the appearance of the center stone. A stone looks smaller next to a large wedding band. We recommend a thin wedding band set low to the finger for most people who refuse to separate the two rings. For pave-set bands, bright-cut pave edges provide additional protection for the stones. Wearing a wedding band and an engagement ring together is not a symbol of everlasting matrimony but a recipe for disaster. Wear each ring on a different hand, so they last an eternity.

Wearing both rings next to each other is often explained as “tradition.” In reality, it is a clever marketing ploy by jewelers to sell more rings. Retailers stand to benefit from wear and tear inflicted by this custom. They argue that rings have to match, making consumers wary of getting wedding bands from competitors unable to match them exactly.

An exact twin of the engagement ring is a popular but uninspired choice. It is usually too dainty and insignificant to be worn by itself. The excessive wear and tear both rings inflict on each other works to the jewelers’ advantage. The friction causes the rings to wear each other out, leading to costly repairs, insurance claims, and more sales.

In the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Chile, Italy, France, Sweden, Slovenia, and other Commonwealth nations, a wedding band is generally worn on the left hand. In Germany, Greece, Russia, Spain, India, Colombia, Venezuela, and Poland, a wedding band is worn on the right hand.

Orthodox Christians and Eastern Europeans wear the wedding band on the right hand. In Belgium, the choice of the hand depends on the region of the country. In the Netherlands, Catholics wear the wedding ring on the left hand, all others on the right. In Austria, Catholics grace the right hand, but Old Catholics stubbornly use the left hand.

Jewish couples wear the wedding ring on the left hand, even though it is worn on the right hand during the marriage ceremony. Muslims adopted the tradition of wearing wedding rings from the West. While Muslims usually wear the wedding ring on the right hand, there is no set rule or customs. Male Muslims are allowed to wear a ring made from any material except gold. Platinum rings are allowed. In Scandinavia, a jeweler’s dreamland, women wear three rings: one for engagement, the second for wedding vows, and the third for motherhood.

There is no ideal solution, but there are a few possible compromises:
– Welding both rings together. The Frankenring does eliminate friction but makes the ring less elegant. The solution to soften the aesthetic blow is to separate them with a small gap (about 0.3 mm wide). The rings are connected with tiny, nearly invisible pins but appear to be independent.

– Curving the wedding band around the engagement ring. Move your melting clocks, Salvador Dali, for here comes “the melting ring.” The so-called “shadow bands” can be hard to find at high-end jewelers, but plenty are sold on the far side of the shopping mall. Look for a small store right between “Jack’s Closeouts” and “Going Out of Business” outlets.

– Using a spacer. A spacer can be a thin metal band between the engagement ring and the wedding band. Also, a spacer can fit the engagement ring precisely in a lock-and-key fashion while its other side is straight.

– Placing the setting on the top of the shank instead of fitting into it. That raises the center stone and eliminates the gallery.

– Adding tongue and groove connections, which are essentially small hooks to lock both rings and prevent them from grinding each other.

Engagement ring styles have evolved significantly from the past. Contemporary bridal rings are lighter, more delicate, and often set with many very small stones called pave.

Use extra care during the wear to avoid bumping your precious rings into hard surfaces.
Regularly clean the rings by gently brushing them in soupy lukewarm water.
Visit your jeweler at least once a year to clean, dry, and check for loose stones using professional equipment.
By minimizing direct contact between engagement and wedding rings, you can avoid irreversible damage caused by friction.

The Ancient Greeks were known to exchange rings as tokens of love and affection. The Romans turned it into a full-blown betrothal tradition. Placing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand originated with a romantic but mildly idiotic theory that a secret nerve or vein connects the finger directly to the heart.

A Roman grammarian and philosopher, Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius, got the idea from an unnamed Egyptian priest who insisted that the fourth finger is the most protected. How and where he used his fingers is lost to history. Macrobius went on to promote this “scientific fact” in the social media of the time: the public baths and bathrooms.

Pliny the Elder quotes: “It was the custom to wear rings only on the finger next to the little finger. You saw the statues of Numa and Servius Tullius, didn’t you? Later it became usual to put rings on the finger next to the thumb and even a little finger. Barbarian Gauls and Britons use the middle finger for this purpose. However, in Rome middle finger is the only one excluded. All other fingers are loaded with rings, smaller rings even being separately adapted for the smaller joints of the fingers.”

The prevailing Western custom of wearing the wedding band on the left hand’s fourth finger has existed since the fifteenth century. Isadore of Seville, writing in the early part of the seventh century, declared the fourth finger best suited for a betrothal ring. The Roman Empire likely followed this tradition to its end. The rules governing which side of the body is better suited for engagement and wedding rings have changed many times since Rome fell. Between the 11th and 15th centuries, French ecclesiastical rules placed the nuptial ring on the bride’s right middle finger, except in the rebellious diocese of Liège, which bravely used the fourth finger.

Teenage King Edward VI of England had decreed that the left hand’s third finger should be the ring finger. Luckily, he died from a lung infection at fifteen before making up more ridiculous rules. So until the Reformation, the ring sat on the left hand’s third finger. The 1549 edition of the Book of Common Prayer brought dramatic changes. It required all Protestants to wear the wedding ring on their left hand. These Catholics stuck with the ring on the right hand.

The hippies of the Italian Renaissance hung betrothal rings from necklaces or thin cords and even wore them on hats. The 1493 marriage of Pope Alexander VI’s illegitimate 13-year-old daughter Lucrezia Borgia to Giovanni Sforza was well recorded. The record specified that twin gold rings were set with precious stones and placed on the fourth finger of the left hand, “whose vein leads to the heart.” Apparently, the vein was blocked soon after that because they were divorced in just a few years. Giovanni signed a paper attesting to his impotence, a small price for freedom.

It was not unusual to wear the wedding ring on the thumb during the reign of George I of England (a German who could not speak a word of English), perhaps because enormously big rings were in fashion at the time. A ring was placed on the right hand’s fourth finger during the marriage ceremony. There were exceptions, such as noblemen entering morganatic marriage (marriage between a high noble and a crappy noble or, God forbid, a non-noble) would present his left hand to receive the ring, as in a “left-handed marriage.”

Chinese finger names

According to Chinese tradition, engagement rings are worn on the middle finger, while wedding rings are worn on opposite hands by the bride and the groom. The bride wears a band on her right hand, while the groom wears his on the left. The Chinese believe that a woman is in charge of the household, so her ring should be on her right hand. The right hand exerts influence according to the custom of “nan zhuo, nu you,” male left, female right.

In ancient Chinese philosophy:

  • The thumb represents the parents
  • The index finger represents siblings
  • The middle finger represents yourself
  • The ring finger represents a life partner
  • The little finger represents children

With your hands closed and all your fingertips touching, fold your middle fingers since they represent yourself. You can open your thumbs: your parents will not live with you forever. You can open your index fingers: your siblings will leave you to have their own life and family. You can also move your little fingers: your children will settle with their families. But it is impossible to separate the ring fingers because, as husband and wife, you are destined to be together forever.

In the words of Confucius, “it is harder to wiggle out of marriage than wander into it.” 摆脱婚姻比徘徊更难

illustration wedding band stackUniformed bands stacked together are usually immune from damage. As long as the bands are similar in height and have smooth sides, they are OK to stack. Any scratches resulting from wear can be polished off. An engraving on a band’s side will get burnished and disappear.

Promise rings evolved from medieval “posy rings” inscribed with excerpts from love poems and exchanged between lovers. Promise rings went out of fashion, but some are occasionally gifted by love-stricken adolescents who are not yet ready for a serious commitment. What is promised is not specified but assumed to be either a future engagement or sexual exclusivity. The Promise ring can be placed on any finger, but most often is worn on the ring finger.

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