Keith's Korner

Friendly suggestions and advice on caring for your precious jewelry.

April 2, 2009

How long will it last?

This is a question sales people hate to answer. Let’s look at average time frames for a well made item. Your diamond engagement ring for example if in 14kt gold will last an average of 5 to 7 years if worn every day before the prongs need replacing. If your ring is platinum or has platinum prongs you might expect at least 15 years of wear. Those are averages – I’ve had customers wear their rings out in as little as three years, while others might get 18 or more. Take your ring to be inspected at least once a year, most jewelers like us do that for no charge and you could avoid losing your diamond.

Let’s look at bracelets, stampedo bracelets, tennis bracelets – or any hinged bracelets with stones, you can expect to begin to have problems in about 3 years. They are not made to wear every day.

With tennis bracelets, it costs about $600 to $1,000 to just make the bracelet in 14kt (depending on the price of gold) without the stones. If you see the bracelets for $999 or less beware – the reduced price is because they use less gold in the mounting. I start repairing this type that people get for Christmas as early as mid January. Better to go for a weekend at your favorite resort.

Most jewelry is just not meant to be worn every day, no mater how well made. Even the crown Jewels of England spend most of their time in a display case at the Tower of London. The length of time that a piece will last can be extended by simply keeping it very clean. Bracelets can have their life extended about three fold just by weekly cleaning at your jeweler. Almost every jeweler will do that for no charge. The dust in the air collects in the hinge areas and acts like sand paper.

Some items are made to wear longer than others and a good jeweler should be able to give you advice. Remember the sales girl in the mall may know no more or even less than you do, and simply want to make a sale. Speak to someone with experience. It’s funny that we understand the life expectancy of things like automobiles. We all know people who make their living on the road and put fifty or one hundred thousand miles on a year. They trade their car in every two years or so. While most of us who drive less can expect to get about eight or ten years before the need for a new car. Then there is the little old lady who bought her car in her 70’s and is still driving it in her 90’s with only fifteen thousand miles on the odometer. Our jewelry is no different, the more you wear it the faster it will wear out – however if kept clean, and worn carefully and occasionally, you could have a lifetime of enjoyment.