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

  • Cleaning
  • Etiquette
  • Tradition

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.

Jewelry etiquette by Leon Mege

You just got engaged!

Your neighbors are drooling, your best friend is suffering from major depression, and your coworkers are plotting against you. This is because you have the most beautiful ring that makes them all green with envy. Are you ready to take care of your new shiny pebble? Did you take a jewelry safety course or attend a jewelry care seminar? Hopefully, we can shine a light on the subject.

The undeniable elegance and grace of modern micro pavé jewelry are certain to draw the eye of anyone who happens to see it. However, these delicate pieces do require extra care and love on the part of their owner. At times, though the passion for your jewelry might burn with desire, a certain level of neglect might ruin the relationship.

The Clapper

It is the last few minutes of the Super Bowl. Eli is just about to throw the game-winning pass. Your fiancé is screaming and jumping, much like the rest of the stadium. Finally, the ball is thrown, and the whole stadium explodes. You are excited. You are frantically applauding. And your new engagement ring is crying with pain.

Why? Unbeknown to you, it’s being bombarded with hundreds of hits by a right-hand ring. When your hands meet during the applause, the right-hand ring extols its revenge on your engagement ring. The back of your ring gets smashed at a rate of 4 hits per second.

It could be 14 hits per second if you are Kent French – the world’s fastest clapper. It’s like hundreds and hundreds of small hammers beating the back of your ring. Be smart about it – the rule of thumb is: no two rings should meet, except for a bunch of stackable bands.

Wear & Tear or Wear Till Tear?

Except for jewelry containing spring-loaded mechanical parts such as locks, clasps, etc., jewelry is usually one solid piece of metal. It could be a composite if there is any pavé. If there are any hidden defects, they will manifest within a week or two. The defects are usually cracks or stones getting loose. It is the manufacturer’s responsibility to reset stones and use a laser welder to fix cracks. Once the ring is worn longer than a month, it is safe to assume that any new problem is related to unkind wear. As upsetting as it sounds, the only person who can be blamed for the damage is the owner.

It is a customer relations nightmare to explain to a customer that his/her jewelry-wearing habits are what is causing the damage. Some people feel embarrassed, and others belligerent. Surprisingly, while still upset, the great majority of people are reasonable and fair in understanding the situation. The usual course of action is to repair or completely re-make the ring, followed by a stern warning to change your wearing habits. Alternatively, you might opt to 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 assist 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, if I don’t have the ring, somebody might assume that I am still single!”

Salesperson: “No problem at all, you can wear it non-stop, it’s really 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 in telling 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 have to 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 versus the durability of a shopping mall clunker, we have to 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 course of a day, but this is not what is required. By being alert and conscious, one can wear a micro pavé ring for 20-30 years, and it will look like 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 – mistreatment, abuse, rough handling, applying excessive force, and/or 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.

Right or left hand dilemma by Leon MegeYou are free to choose a hand for your wedding band. The same-hand rule is made up.

Most Americans believe that a wedding band should go on the left hand’s fourth finger. This belief has existed since at least the fifteenth century and it 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 awful residue of such chauvinism is upheld with an urban myth: supposedly a skeleton’s left hand from a seventh-century burial had a gold ring that closely resembled the contemporary wedding band.

Historically, an engagement ring served as a token of financial commitment and a placeholder for virginity. Today, the world embraces the engagement ring as a symbol of love, passion, and closeness between two partners. A wedding ring signifies eternal love, eternal commitment, and ideally, eternal happiness.

The choice should be yours. The preference for the right or left hand is based on ethnic, cultural, and religious traditions that have changed many times throughout history. The prevailing Western belief in wearing the wedding band on the left hand’s fourth finger has existed since at least the fifteenth century.

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 awful residue of such chauvinism is upheld with an urban myth: supposedly a skeleton’s left hand from a seventh-century burial had a gold ring that closely resembled the contemporary wedding band.

They do not. A wedding band sitting flush with an engagement ring is hard to recognize as a separate piece of jewelry, defeating its primary purpose as 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 isn’t. Firstly, a curved wedding band looks silly on its own without the engagement ring next to it. Secondly, the elegance of a fine engagement ring is severely compromised by the addition. 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 a competitor unable to match them exactly.

A wedding band, which is an exact twin of the engagement ring, is a common 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. The damage that friction causes can manifest itself quickly, sometimes in a matter of a few months when diamonds come in direct contact with each other.

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.

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 kept insisting 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 the purpose. However, in Rome middle finger is the only one excluded. All others 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 that 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 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 thereafter because they were divorced in just a few years. Giovanni signed a paper attesting to his impotence, a small price to pay 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. During the marriage ceremony, a ring was placed on the right hand’s fourth finger. 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.”

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 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 middle fingers since they represent yourself. You can open your thumbs: your parents are not destined to 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 the little fingers: your children will settle with a family of their own. 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

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 plain thin metal band sitting between the engagement ring and 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.

Uniformed 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. Your jeweler can easily polish off minor scratches and dents on your next visit. A band with an engraving on its sides should be exempt from stacking if you want to keep the engraving from disappearing.

Both rings will eventually damage each other. The extent and speed at which the damage manifests itself depend on many circumstances.
The most dramatic damage occurs when there is direct contact between the gemstones or diamonds of both rings. It is also the costliest damage.

Metal-to-metal wear will slowly burnish the metal and could lead to parts snapping or cracking. In the case of a stone-to-metal contact, the stones always prevail. Delicate prongs or beads are also very vulnerable, and it does not take long for them to weaken to the point when they can no longer hold stones in place. This usually causes pave stones to fall out.

The speed with which the damage occurs depends on how tight both rings are sitting on the finger. When both rings adhere to the finger well, there is less movement, so the damaging friction works very slow.

Even when both rings fit tightly, they oscillate during normal wear, causing them to grind each other. These subtle but constant vibrations are harmful.
Even engagement rings modified to fit flush with wedding bands are susceptible to damage. They shift up and down because the finger’s soft tissues cannot keep them in place all the time.

Usually, damage manifests itself in two ways:

A wedding band chews through the engagement ring basket, prongs, and gallery, on occasion carving a space for itself that can look like it is done on purpose.
The engagement ring rips off the top of the wedding band, which causes pave stones to fall out.
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 together for special occasions, but continuous wear will inevitably wreck at least one.

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