CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

How to Store Jewelry

Jewelry is so much more precious than its price tag. Whether inherited as an heirloom, received as a gift or simply bought for personal enjoyment, jewelry pieces are sentimental reminders of important milestones, memories and life events. It is devastating to imagine anything happening to these cherished accessories, so special attention and extra care should be given to ensure they last for generations.
 
When it comes to caring for fine jewelry, most people think of routine cleaning and occasional maintenance; storage is often overlooked. However, how you store your jewelry is perhaps the most important factor in preventing damage and ensuring a piece’s quality, longevity and overall beauty.
 
Whether you want to elaborately display your sparkling treasures or keep them safely tucked away from sight, proper storage is paramount — and can be more than just a utilitarian endeavor! With decorative jewelry boxes and caskets to custom cabinetry and safes, the options for storing your jewelry are vast. Read on for helpful tips from our jewelry experts and keep your jewelry shining its brightest!
 

 

Still Life of a Jewelry Casket, Books, and Oysters by Andries Vermeulen

 

 

Materials and Environment

 
How to best preserve an item of value is often determined by two factors — the surrounding environment and the materials that make up the object. Because the materials used to craft jewelry vary considerably, deciphering and adequately understanding the metals, gems and techniques used to create your pieces is the first hurdle in appropriately caring for and sufficiently storing your jewelry.
 
Pearls & Opals
 
While humidity is the bane of most preservation efforts, pearls and opals actually benefit from it. Delicate and porous, they rely on the moisture in the air to maintain their quintessential luster and prevent surface cracking. Harsh light and extreme fluctuations in temperature can negatively impact pearls and opals. In addition to creating an arid environment, they can cause discoloration. Pearls are susceptible to bleaching, and opals can turn white or brown and lose their wonderful play of color. As some of the softest materials used in jewelry making (pearls score a 2.5 on the Mohr scale and opals a 5.5 to 6.5), it’s also essential to keep them away from your other jewelry pieces to avoid dents and scratches.
 

For these reasons, it is recommended that pearls and opals be kept in a soft pouch or lined jewelry box, where there is some exposure, and they are unlikely to be scratched. Safety deposit boxes and safes are generally very dry, hard and airtight environments and are therefore not ideal.

 

 

Tahitian Pearl and Diamond Ringby Henry Dunay

 

 


Silver

 


Silver is notoriously sensitive, as it is quick to react to the environment and tarnish. It is imperative to keep your silver in a cool, dry place to combat frequent trips to your jeweler for cleaning and polishing. We recommend storing silver jewelry in an anti-tarnish pouch or acid-free archival tissue paper. Alternatively, you can keep it in a compartment, drawer or box with anti-tarnish strips. The less exposure to the outside elements, the better; airtight spaces are ideal.

 


Gold

 


Perhaps the most coveted of the precious metals, gold should be stored on its own. With a purity of 99.99%, 24K gold is extraordinarily soft and, because of this, is not often used in jewelry applications. Alloyed 10k, 14k and 18k gold is stronger but is still very susceptible to marks, dings and scratches. Therefore, you should store your gold pieces in a soft, dry, and secure area.

 


Unsure what kind of metal your jewelry is made of? Look for precious metal stamps and hallmarks.

 


Diamonds

 


While diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, they are certainly not a friend to most materials they come into contact with. Used in an array of industrial applications due to their incomparable strength (they rank a 10 on the Mohr scale), diamonds can scratch, dent and mar other pieces. You should safely store diamond jewelry separately or in a way that keeps your pieces from touching to avoid any damage.

 

 

Diamond Dangle Earrings by Buccellati

 

 

Treated Gems
 

Colored gemstones are uniquely beautiful. Nonetheless, they are sometimes treated to enhance their color and clarity. It is important to know whether your gems are treated, as these treatments can be negatively affected by outside factors such as high heat, humidity and many common solvents and cleaners. If you are unsure whether you own a treated gemstone, consider contacting your jeweler or sending it to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) for analysis and grading. The findings will help you understand how to store your precious colored gemstones properly.

 


Tips & Takeaways

 
  • Make sure your jewelry is clean before storing it for a prolonged period.
  • Assess the material of your jewelry pieces.
  • Store like materials together and in the appropriate environment.
  • Consider keeping your pieces in cloth bags, jeweler’s tissue or the original packaging, especially if your jewelry case is not lined with fabric.
 

Types of Storage

 

Once you are confident in your knowledge of your jewelry pieces and how to care for them, it is time to pick a storage case! Throughout history, countless vessels have been crafted specifically for the safekeeping of precious gems, jewelry and other valuables. Often a work of art in and of themselves, these receptacles were the ultimate way to display authority and affluence while keeping prized possessions under lock and key.

 


Boxes & Caskets

 

The jewelry box has left an indelible mark on popular culture and is what most people think of when considering jewelry storage. Similar to reliquaries, jewelry boxes, sometimes referred to as “caskets,” have come to symbolize the treasures stored within them. In the middle ages, jewelry boxes were customarily given as engagement gifts from bridegrooms and were a promise of the “jewels to come.” From antiquity to today, jewelry boxes are often crafted of precious materials themselves; some are even made by jewelers.

 

Perfect for the small to mid-size collection, jewelry boxes often have convenient compartments lined with fabric and sometimes feature a locking mechanism. They are a particularly fine option for men’s jewelry collections, as they can come with special separators for rings, cufflinks, and watches. Decorative table-top jewelry boxes, like the one showcased below, have glass for displaying your accessories.

 

 

Ormolu Secretaire Jewelry Box, Circa 1880

 

 

While the term “jewelry casket” can refer to both smaller and larger boxes, they are typically larger and akin to chests, like the one displayed in the video below. Historically, caskets were made for storing royal jewels, relics and wedding dowries and were often important for travel. A few remaining examples of these exceptional caskets date back as early as the 4th century, such as the Brescia Casket from the Roman Empire.

 

 

 

Jewelry caskets are a great storage option for the history lover. They are often ornately decorated and are suitable for mid to large collections.

 

Armoires and Cabinetry

 

For more extensive jewelry collections, a jewelry armoire or cabinet may be the best option. Jewelry armoires, like the one below, were particularly popular among the royal courts of the 18th century. Decadence extended to all areas of life, and jewelry storage was no exception! King Louis XVI gifted Marie Antoinette a beautiful tulipwood jewelry table in celebration of their impending marriage, but, despite its largess, it couldn’t fit all of her jewelry. She eventually commissioned an immense diamond cabinet, which stood at eight and a half feet tall by six feet wide. It wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that jewelry furnishings became widely available.

 

Like jewelry boxes, armoires and cabinets have wonderfully convenient compartments for storing similar jewelry pieces together. Because of the additional space, however, they often have features that a jewelry box does not, such as a hanging rack for necklaces or a pressboard for pins and brooches.

 

 

Paul Sormani Jewelry Cabinet, Circa 1870
 

Safes

 

Theft protection is important to consider when storing your jewelry, and safes are ideal for securing all of your valuables. Particularly perfect for guarding your jewelry while you are away from home, most jewelry boxes will snugly fit inside a large safe. Much like the beautiful one depicted below, many safes have incredibly complex locking mechanisms and special compartments to safeguard your precious fine jewelry.

 

 

Italian Iron Floor Safe, Late 18th/Early 19th century

 

 

Traveling

 
The fuss of packing, re-packing and constantly being on-the-go can be potentially disastrous for your fine jewelry. The same general rules apply for storing jewelry during travel; a popular option is keeping your jewelry pieces wrapped separately and in a special bag. However, you may want to consider a more convenient and elegant option, such as the English necessaire du voyage showcased below.
 

 

Crafted in 1863, this beautiful coromandel box with brass inlay exemplifies the grace and innovation of the Victorian era. Similar in size to a normal jewelry box, it not only has convenient jewelry drawers but also firmly stores all the necessary personal care and grooming amenities in stylish travel-sized containers. It also features a lock and key for protection during travel.
 
Looking to expand your collection? View our exceptional collection of fine jewelry pieces here.

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