James Middleton Jewelers Blog
April 8th, 2020
A Philadelphia couple recently took a much-needed break from quarantine to visit one of their favorite places — the top of the Rocky Steps at the entrance of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Emily Weiss was shocked when her boyfriend, Elly Nemtsov, popped the question in the exact spot where Sylvester Stallone's beloved character raised his arms in triumph in the 1976 blockbuster, Rocky.

In the iconic scene, Rocky — a local club fighter who has been given a shot at the title — completes an intense training session by running up the 72 stone steps. With the "Gonna Fly Now" theme building to a crescendo, Rocky reaches the top and turns to take in a breathtaking bird's-eye view of his beloved city. Rocky's climb has become a metaphor for how Philadelphians always rise to the challenge and have the power to overcome any obstacle.

Stallone told The Philadelphia Inquirer that the theme of the movie wasn't about fighting or muscles.

"It's about love. It's about passion," he said. "It's about having something inside that you know must be filled."

Which brings us back to Weiss and Nemtsov.

According to Insider.com, Nemtsov had been planning to propose since the beginning of March, but with the city under lockdown due to the coronavirus, regular proposal venues, such as restaurants or parks, were suddenly off the board.

Officially, Philadelphia is allowing certain outdoor activities, such as walking, running or cycling, so the couple strolled to a place they've loved to visit — the tall steps leading to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

From the top of the steps, Nemtsov called his sister and two-year-old niece. On FaceTime, the young girl showed Weiss an art project she'd been working on. On a large piece of colored paper was the phrase, "Emily, will you be my aunt?"

At first, Weiss didn't get the hint, but when she looked back at her boyfriend, he was on one knee with a diamond ring in hand. Nemtsov's sister, niece and both couple's parents all watched the proposal via FaceTime.

"I didn't think we would be going out during this, let alone a huge milestone, so I was pleasantly surprised," Weiss told Insider.com. "It definitely gives us something to look forward to and talk about while nothing else is going on."

"I think it was great timing," Weiss continued, "because we just get to be with each other and we have time on our side. It gives us something to be happy about during an otherwise depressing time."

The couple is looking to tie the knot in October 2021.

Visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art can see a larger-than-life statue of Rocky at the bottom of the famous steps. The 8-foot, 2,000-pound bronze statue had been commissioned by Stallone in 1980 to be used in the movie, Rocky III, and has been a favorite photo op at the museum since 2006.

Credits: Proposal images by Emily Weiss. Rocky steps photo by InSapphoWeTrust from Los Angeles, California, USA / CC BY-SA. Rocky statue photo by Bobak Ha'Eri / CC BY.
April 7th, 2020
Wearing a bright emerald-colored dress complemented by a turquoise-and-diamond brooch, Queen Elizabeth II addressed the citizens of the UK — and the world — with an optimistic message of hope, resilience and the promise that better days will return.

"We will be with our friends again; we will be with our families again; we will meet again,” the 93-year-old monarch said in a Sunday broadcast from Windsor Castle.

Royal Family watchers believe that Queen Elizabeth accessorized with the rarely seen turquoise brooch because of the rich history and powerful symbolism associated with the piece.

Elizabeth's grandmother, Queen Mary, received the turquoise brooch in 1893 on the day of her wedding to the Duke of York. It was a gift from her new in-laws, the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra.

The brooch was passed down to a 26-year-old Elizabeth upon her grandmother's death in March of 1953. Elizabeth had begun her unprecedented 68-year reign in February of 1952. Interestingly, she did not wear the brooch in public until 2014.

The Queen's stylist, Angela Kelly, explained in her memoir, The Other Side of the Coin, that the Queen's outfits are planned months in advance. So we can assume that the ensemble had to be sprinkled with subtext.

Did she believe the turquoise brooch would revive the memory of her grandmother, whose resilience and optimism would help her country recover from the ravages of the First World War? Or was Elizabeth motivated by turquoise's legendary role as a talisman — a stone of healing, love and protection.

Royal style watcher Elizabeth Holmes wrote on her Instagram that Queen Elizabeth II may have worn the uplifting, bright color to symbolize spring, growth, renewal and a fresh start.

"Together we are tackling this disease," she said, "and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge."

Credits: Screen captures via YouTube.com/The Royal Family Channel.
April 6th, 2020
For the second time in 12 months, an Eastern Long Island man has found a super-rare purple natural pearl inside a locally harvested quahog clam.

In light of the sad news gripping Long Island due to the coronavirus, Springs resident Alex Miller was apprehensive, at first, to broadcast his good fortune on social media, but then decided to share some photos under the headline: "Reasons to be Cheerful: Good old-fashioned LUCK."

In an interview with The East Hampton Star, Miller said, "To have that happen again, at a time when we're all going through these different emotions of separation, as well as the anxiety, and food resources, and the virus — I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I had this weird second stroke of serendipitous luck."

Miller told the publication that he hadn't gone clamming since last summer, but decided to finally get out of the house after an extended period of self-isolation. He raked up 32 keepers in Three Mile Harbor and brought them home to be shucked.

"The eighth or ninth one that I opened up, there it was, sitting on the lip, this tiny pearl," he told the Star. "I can't really describe my reaction because the last couple of weeks have been sort of numbing."

He described the perfectly round pearl as the size of a frozen pea.

In May of 2019, Miller had purchased a dozen quahog clams at Stuart's Seafood Market in nearby Amagansett. The 11th shucked clam contained a round purple pearl the size of a garbanzo bean — about three times larger than the most recent discovery.

“It is amazing. It’s pretty rare for any of our shellfish to produce pearls, let alone ones that are relatively round — then add to that it’s a wampum purple,” Barley Dunne, the director of the East Hampton Town Shellfish Hatchery, told the Star in 2019.

(Wampum is a traditional bead — usually white or purple — crafted by the Eastern Woodlands tribes of American Indians from the shell of the quahog clam.)

Dunne explained that for the pearl to be purple, it had to be coated with the portion of the clam’s nacre that was purple.

“If it was white, it would be kind of drab,” he said. “This is a beauty.”

The Gemological Institute of America graded last year's find and gave it a value of $3,000 to $5,000.

Natural pearls are organic gems, created by a mollusk totally by chance, without human intervention. When a foreign irritant gets into the mollusk’s shell, the bivalve secretes layer upon layer of nacre to protect itself. Over time, the layering of iridescent nacre produces a pearl.

Cultured pearls, by comparison, are grown under controlled conditions, where a bead is implanted in the body of the mollusk to stimulate the secretion of nacre.

Miller told the Star that he's not really interested in selling his set of natural purple pearls.

"The money doesn't really interest me as much as the curiosity of how rare it is," Miller told the publication. "All of my friends are urging me — and I see the glint in my wife's eye — 'Now that you have two it might make a nice setting.'"

Credits: Images via Facebook.com/Alex Miller. Map by Google Maps.
April 3rd, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you great throwback songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today, Sting of The Police turns the tables on a controlling lover in “Wrapped Around Your Finger,” the beautiful and timeless hit from the chart-topping 1983 album, Synchronicity.

Sting uses jewelry imagery and literary references to describe a young man who finds himself in a dangerous dance with the devil, describing his perilous situation as being caught between Scylla and Charibdes.

As characters from Greek mythology, both Scylla and Charibdes were beautiful maidens who were turned into horrific monsters. Scylla guarded the Straits of Messina and destroyed any boats that passed by. Across the strait was Charibdes, who was blamed for whipping up deadly whirlpools. Sailors trying to row through the narrow channel had to face their wrath.

Throughout the song, Sting returns to the idea of being controlled, or being wrapped around one's finger. It's a theme supported by his lyrical references to a ring and a band of gold.

In the first verse, he sings, "Hypnotized by you if I should linger / Staring at the ring around your finger."

In the second verse, he continues, “I can see the destiny you sold turned into a shining band of gold.”

Buy the end of the song, the young man has flipped the script on the devilish antagonist, as the chorus changes from “I’ll be wrapped around your finger” to “You’ll be wrapped around my finger.”

In various interviews, Sting confessed that "Wrapped Around Your Finger" is based on his own experiences.

The 68-year-old singer/songwriter/musician explained in Lyrics By Sting that, “this song is vaguely alchemical and probably about a friend of mine, a professional psychic and my tutor in tarot, with bits of Doctor Faustus and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice thrown into the pot for good measure.”

“Wrapped Around Your Finger” was the fourth U.S. single released from Synchronicity, an album that topped the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and sold more than eight million copies. “Wrapped Around Your Finger” ascended to #8 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. At the 1984 Grammy Awards, Synchronicity was nominated for five awards — including Album of the Year — and won three.

Born Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner in Wallsend, Northumberland, England, in 1951, Sting was the principal songwriter, lead singer and bassist for The Police from 1977 to 1984 and launched his solo career in 1985. He is credited with being one of the world's best-selling music artists, having sold more than 100 million records as a member of The Police and as a solo artist.

Please check out the video of Sting and The Police performing “Wrapped Around Your Finger.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“Wrapped Around Your Finger”
Written by Sting. Performed by The Police.

You consider me the young apprentice
Caught between the Scylla and Charibdes
Hypnotized by you if I should linger
Staring at the ring around your finger.

I have only come here seeking knowledge,
Things they would not teach me of in college.
I can see the destiny you sold turned into a shining band of gold.

I’ll be wrapped around your finger.
I’ll be wrapped around your finger
Mephistopheles is not your name
I know what you’re up to just the same
I will listen hard to your tuition,
You will see it come to its fruition.
I’ll be wrapped around your finger.
I’ll be wrapped around your finger

Devil and the deep blue sea behind me,
Vanish in the air you’ll never find me.
I will turn your face to alabaster,
When you’ll find your servant is your master.

You’ll be wrapped around my finger
You’ll be wrapped around my finger
You’ll be wrapped around my finger

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com.
April 2nd, 2020
Due to international travel restrictions, diamond mining giant Alrosa is temporarily changing the way it's selling "special size" rough diamonds larger than 10.8 carats. Instead of inviting top diamond buyers to view and bid on individual stones at its offices in Russia, the company is encouraging them to stay home.

The two-week "digital tender" that ends this Friday was made possible by Alrosa's commitment to an advanced technology that provides customers with a three-dimensional digital scan of each rough diamond along with detailed data about its external shape, internal inclusions, anticipated color and fluorescence. What’s more, the mapping system can evaluate the optimal size and shape of the resulting polished diamond.

Armed with this information, buyers can make informed decisions about a stone's value — from anywhere in the world.

"The health of our employees and customers is essential for us," said Evgeny Agureev, deputy CEO of Alrosa. "This is why we decided to cancel upcoming auctions and shorten those already in progress. The company is in contact with customers from different countries, considering different supporting measures. One of the opportunities is a digital tender."

The Alrosa exec clarified that the new digital method for showing and selling large diamonds is intended as a temporary solution and will not replace the traditional trading model.

When Alrosa tested Digital Tenders in October 2019, Sarine’s Galaxy inclusion mapping and DiaExpert planning was touted as a great way to take the guesswork out of the risky, high-stakes business of rough-diamond buying. It allowed the procurement experts to preview stones and share the detailed scan with their full planning team, including the cutters at their polishing factories. When buyers would later visit the Alrosa offices, they already knew what stones suited their needs.

Agureev said at the time that Digital Tenders gave his company the ability to show products to a large variety of clients within a short timeframe.

It also now permits Alrosa to carry on an international "special size" diamond auction with no buyers on site.

Credits: Image of Sarine’s DiaExpert device via Instagram/AlrosaDiamonds. 3D-Model document courtesy of Alrosa.
April 1st, 2020
Standing in stark contrast to the earlier Art Nouveau and Edwardian eras, the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 30s represented modernism reinterpreted as fashion. Jewelry designers of this period abandoned the flowing curves and floral motifs of prior decades to embrace the new sleek lines and geometric shapes that conveyed anti-traditional elegance, wealth and functionality.

In honor of April's official birthstone, we take a close look at a diamond ring that is one of the world's most stunning examples of Art Deco jewelry. It is housed in the Gem Hall at the National Museum of Natural History and it is called "The Marquise Diamond Ring."

(Normally, the public would be able to see this magnificent ring in person, but all the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., are temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. The Smithsonian provides a virtual tour here. Click on the Second Floor tab and visit the gallery labeled "Geology, Gems and Minerals.")

Designed by Cartier during the Art Deco period (1920-1935), The Marquise Diamond Ring is fabricated in platinum and features a 28.3-carat marquise-cut diamond sourced in South Africa.

When viewed from the side, the ring's Art Deco design elements come to life. Set symmetrically along the architecture-inspired shank and undercarriage of the mounting are four triangular-cut, eight baguette-cut and 60 round brilliant-cut diamonds.

The ring was gifted to the Smithsonian in 1964 by Adelaide Riggs, the daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post. A famous socialite and philanthropist, Post was the heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the richest women in the world.

Credits: Marquise Diamond Ring by Chip Clark and digitally enhanced by SquareMoose / Smithsonian; Side view of Marquise Diamond Ring by Ken Larsen / Smithsonian.
March 31st, 2020
In Sunday night's inaugural YouTube broadcast of John Krasinski's "Some Good News" — a show dedicated to heartwarming and uplifting stories during these uncertain times — the star of The Office highlighted a couple from Fredericksburg, VA, who got engaged March 21 in front of the Eiffel Tower, sort of.

You see, Luke McClung had intended to pop the question to his girlfriend Erika Diffendall in Paris during spring break, but had to abruptly cancel the trip due to the outbreak of the coronavirus. So the graphic designer did the next best thing. With the assistance of his brother, AJ, the creative siblings drew the Eiffel Tower on a brick wall in their neighborhood and laid out red and white roses on the ground at the base of the "tower."

A series of tweets told the story of how McClung surprised his girlfriend, an English teacher from North Stafford High School, with a proposal and an oval-cut diamond ring. Of course, the tweets from the lovebirds were accompanied by a series of memorable photos.

Tweeted Diffendall, "Went this morning, and the rain didn’t stand a chance against Luke’s beautiful creation. #smitten #cloudnine"

McClung explained in his tweet, "It was supposed to happen in Paris, so had to improvise a bit, but it worked out."

The Fredericksburg couple found their way onto Krasinski's "Some Good News" (SGN) after McClung answered the actor's Twitter-generated request for some good news. "Alright everybody," Krasinski tweeted on Wednesday, March 25, "how about #SomeGoodNews ! Send me the stories that have made you feel good this week or the things that just made you smile!"

By Sunday night, the response was so overwhelming that Krasinski was compelled to kick off a new show. During his intro, the actor explained that for years he's been wondering why there isn't a news show dedicated entirely to good news.

“Well, desperately seeking my fix somewhere else, I reached out to all of you this week, asking — nay, begging — for some good news," he said. "And boy, did you deliver. After reading those replies and the incredibly heartwarming stories that came with them, I thought, ‘All right. Enough is enough, world. Why not us? Why not now?’ So, ladies and gentlemen, this is your fault, and this is ‘SGN.’ I’m John Krasinski, and if it isn’t clear yet, I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.”

The Fredericksburg couple appears at the 4:05 mark of the near-16-minute show, which also included an interview with Krasinski's former co-star, Steve Carell.

In his final remarks, the new YouTube star said, “I’m John Krasinski, and this is ‘SGN,’ asking you to remember, no matter how tough life can get, there’s always good in the world and we will see you next time. Good night.”

On Krasinski's Twitter feed, Diffendall thanked the actor for sharing her engagement story.

Krasinski responded, "Wow!! Totally blown away by the response to #SGN ! Thank you thank you... But hey, you guys did this!! So you keep sending me #SomeGoodNews and making me smile... and I'll keep trying to return the favor! Pass it on!

By late afternoon on Monday, "Some Good News" had already been viewed more than 4 million times and was trending as the #1 most-watched video on YouTube. You can see it here...

Credits: John Krasinski screen capture via Youtube.com. Engagement pics via Twitter/Erika Diffendall.
March 30th, 2020
Waste management workers in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, pulled the plug on their normal operations this past Wednesday to help a distraught women whose diamond engagement ring ended up in a 40-ton mountain of paper at the city's recycling center.

Using forensic techniques to noodle out where the tiny ring might be in its massive paper recycling system, John Martella, the district manager of GFL Environmental Inc. (also known as Green For Life), and his team were able to locate the ring in less than 30 minutes.

Martella told SooToday.com that he believes that the unlikely recovery of such a precious and sentimental item delivers a message of hope during these uncertain times.

He said, “We’re going through a crisis with COVID-19, so to do something like that makes you think, ‘We can beat this thing, we can beat this, we can win this.' Good things happen in bad times.”

The story of the lost engagement ring began this past Tuesday, when an unnamed woman in Sault Ste. Marie accidentally dropped her precious keepsake in her family's paper recycling container. That container was emptied into a recycling truck very early on Wednesday morning and taken to the GFL plant on Sackville Road.

When the woman realized her ring was missing, she sent a desperate message to a friend who works for the City of Sault Ste. Marie. That employee forwarded the note to Martella.

Martella recounted how the frantic woman called on the phone and later visited the GFL plant.

“She was shaken up," he said. "[The ring] was precious to her.”

After she left, Martella got his crew together and stated, "We have to fix this. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do."

Martella ordered a halt in the normal operations and implemented a plan to find the ring.

The woman was able to provide a few clues that would help in the search. She remembered that her six-year-old son had been coloring with crayons on Tuesday and that some of those drawings had ended up in the recycling container. In addition, she remembered recycling a distinctive bag that was printed with the branding of her veterinarian.

Martella was able to identify the truck that had serviced the woman's neighborhood and sectioned off the pile of paper that had been delivered to the plant by that truck.

“I went in there and saw a piece of paper colored by crayons," he told SooToday. "So I said, ‘It’s got to be in here.’”

Using a front loader, one of Martella's team members scooped up a bucketful of paper.

"No sooner did he drop the bucket, the ring fell out,” Martella said. "It was just amazing."

Martella said that his crew erupted with the chant, "We found it, we found it!"

In a photo shared on SooToday by GFL Environmental, Martella is flanked by his team as he proudly holds up a tiny plastic bag containing the diamond ring. (See the photo at the top of this page.)

The district manager said that the woman was ecstatic when she heard the big news. She had no idea that Martella had shut down his normal operations to help her.

“You have to put yourself in that position," Martella said. "The ring was very valuable. Insurance would have covered it, but insurance has nothing to do with it."

In an email to SooToday.com, the woman wrote, “I can’t thank them enough, that in the middle of a pandemic, in a time of social distancing, they were kind enough to stop and help me and not brush me off... These men are hardworking, enormously considerate, and will go above and beyond. I would also like to thank all those who work in waste collection too, who are unable to stay home because they are an essential service.”

Credits: Images provided by GFL Environmental.
March 27th, 2020
Welcome to Music Friday when we would normally bring you fun songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we bend the rules a bit to include an artist with a gemstone in his name. Performing from his home this past weekend while in self-quarantine, Neil Diamond spun up a few new lines to his universally loved 1969 hit, "Sweet Caroline," to support the international effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Diamond replaced the popular pre-chorus, "Hands, touching hands / Reaching out, touching me, touching you," with these health-conscious alternative lyrics, "Hands, washing hands / Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you."

The 79-year-old Diamond, who was forced to cancel his worldwide golden anniversary tour in 2018 due to a Parkinson’s diagnosis, explained in the intro of his song why he decided to create this parody.

Sitting in his den with a raging fire in the background and his photogenic pup nearby, Diamond said, “Hi everybody. This is Neil Diamond. And I know we're going through a rough time right now. But I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together, well, we'll just feel a little bit better. Give it a try! OK?”

Diamond's effort was wonderfully received on social media, with more than 2.5 million views on YouTube and 140,000 Likes on Twitter. His humanitarian musical outreach was praised by the Los Angeles Times and USA Today, among other high profile outlets.

“Sweet Caroline” is a song that has been woven into the fabric of American culture. Played at sporting events from coast to coast, when Diamond sings the line, “Good times never seemed so good,” the crowd chants back, “So good, so good, so good.”

Originally believed to be an ode to Caroline Kennedy, the then-11-year-old daughter of President John F. Kennedy, “Sweet Caroline” was actually written for Diamond’s second wife, Marcia.

Diamond revealed the truth during a 2014 appearance on the Today show.

“I was writing a song in Memphis, Tenn., for a session. I needed a three-syllable name,” Diamond said. “The song was about my wife at the time — her name was Marcia — and I couldn’t get a ‘Marcia’ rhyme.”

The song was released in the summer of 1969 and zoomed to #4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. Over the course of his 58-year career as a singer-songwriter-musician, Diamond has sold more than 130 million albums worldwide and placed 38 singles in the Top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. None has been more enduring than “Sweet Caroline.” The song has been covered by Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, Julio Iglesias and many more.

Even though Diamond has officially retired from touring because of his illness, the musical legend performed at the 24th annual Keep Memory Alive Power of Love Gala benefit, which took place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas in early March.

"I’m feeling great," Diamond told People at the time. "This is an important thing they’re doing and I feel honored to be part of it and take part in it."

Please check out the video of Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" parody. His intro, along with the altered lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

“Sweet Caroline” (parody lyrics)
Written and performed by Neil Diamond.

(Intro: Hi Everybody, This is Neil Diamond.
And I know we're going through a rough time right now.
But I love ya, and I think maybe if we sing together
Well, we'll just feel a little bit better. Give it a try! OK?)

Where it began, I can’t begin to knowing
But then I know it’s growing strong
Was in the spring
Then spring became the summer
Who’d have believed you’d come along

Hands, washing hands
Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’d be inclined
To believe they never would
But now I

Look at the night and it don’t seem so lonely
We filled it up with only two
And when I hurt
Hurting runs off my shoulders
How can I hurt when I’m holding you

Hands, washing hands
Reaching out, don't touch me, I won't touch you

Sweet Caroline
Good times never seemed so good
I’d been inclined
To believe they never would

Sweet Caroline

(Outro: Good night everybody. Good night. We love you.)

Credit: Screen capture via YouTube.com/Neil Diamond.
March 26th, 2020
You've got the routine down pat by now. You scrub your hands multiple times throughout the day — for at least 20 seconds (The time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday") — making sure to clean between each finger and not just the palms. You thoroughly rinse your hands and dry off with a clean towel. And when you don't have access to a sink and running water, you use the next best thing, a squirt from your travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer.

Despite your best intentions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe by taking hand washing seriously, all that soap and hand sanitizer is probably wreaking havoc on your precious jewelry. Soapy residue may be adhering to nooks and crannies behind your rings, and the precious stones may be looking dull and lifeless. Perhaps it's time to show your cherished keepsakes the love they deserve.

Jewelry-industry experts offer these DIY tips on how to keep your jewelry hygienic and sparkling for generations to come. The biggest takeaway, you'll learn, is to "be gentle" to the gemstones and precious metals.

• Whenever possible, take off your jewelry before washing your hands. It's obvious that if your jewelry does not come in contact with soap or cleansers, it will stay pristine longer. (Be careful, though, to put your jewelry in a safe container and shut the drain so there is no chance of the jewelry being lost.)

• The Gemological Association of America says the safest jewelry cleaning methods are also the easiest. Most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap (no detergents) and a soft-bristled tooth brush. (Be sure to get behind the stones where dirt can accumulate.)

A pulsed-water dental cleaning appliance and a soft, lint-free cloth can also be used. Notes the GIA, "Be sure to rinse your jewelry in a glass of water to remove cleaning solutions since you risk losing loose stones — or even an entire piece of jewelry — if you rinse directly in the sink."

Taking on the jewelry-cleaning topic, a Vogue columnist recently wrote that she puts her "beloved children" in a cup of warm water infused with a blast of Windex, explaining that she takes special pleasure in "watching little dirty specks float to the surface."

• It's especially important to keep organic gems, such as pearls, opals, turquoise and coral, away from harsh cleaners and alcohol-based sanitizers. These chemicals can dry out the gems and lead to cracking.

• Mikimoto notes that pearls, in particular, must be treated with the utmost care. "Pearls are organic gemstones that are vulnerable to acid, alkaline and extremes of humidity," says Mikimoto's official website. "To preserve your pearls' radiance, avoid letting them come into contact with cosmetics, hair spray, or perfume."

For this reason, the famous producer of cultured pearls advises women to put their pearl jewelry on as a final touch, after applying make-up and styling hair. Also, ultrasonic cleaners should never be used with pearl jewelry as it can damage the pearls.

Writing for the American Gem Society, Kristie Nicolosi of The Kingswood Company, a maker of jewelry cleaning products, offered tips on what NOT to do when cleaning precious jewelry.

• Don't use a toothpaste and a toothbrush to clean softer gemstones and other types of jewelry. The abrasives in toothpaste will scratch the surfaces and the toothbrush's long handle will place too much pressure on the piece.

• Don't use ammonia, Windex® or Mr. Clean® on softer gemstones. While these cleaning products may be useful in milder concentrations on harder gemstones, the risk is not worth it.

• Don't use hydrogen peroxide to clean jewelry. It's an effective disinfectant, but can react with sterling silver and harm the finish.

• Don't use bleach. It damages the metal alloys in gold and will cause irreparable damage.

• Vinegar and lemon juice should not be used to clean jewelry. Nicolosi says they are too acidic and too abrasive on metals and gemstones.

• Acids in Coca-Cola® can damage metals and softer stones. Another no-no.

• Baking soda is too alkaline for cleaning jewelry safely.

• Do not place your jewelry in boiling water on the stove. The jewelry could come into contact with the hot, metal surface of the pot, which can weaken or misshape the metal.

Credit: Photo via BigStockPhoto.com.