Q: How do you clean jewellery?

A: The best way to clean jewellery is with an old toothbrush and a little fairy liquid. For very dirty jewellery soak in a little bowl of warm water for a while and then give it a gentle scrub. ALWAYS rinse over a container or ensure the plug is in the sink, in the unlikely event that a stone comes out. Please note that porous stones like turquoise and pearls should not come into contact with washing up liquid, just use water.

Q: What is the difference between natural pearls and cultured pearls?

A: A natural pearl is a pearl formed naturally, without any human intervention. They can be found in both salt and freshwater. Natural saltwater pearls are both rare and valuable, and harvesting has slowed to an all time low, due to many factors including pollution of the seas and over harvesting. Cultured pearls are farmed, and again can be salt or freshwater. Oysters are grown in farms, and implanted with a ‘nucleus’ which is normally a small mother of pearl bead, which over the course of a few years is coated with a substance called nacre, and forms a pearl, which can then be extracted from the oyster shell.

Q: What is a synthetic gemstone?

A: A synthetic stone is a man-made gemstone that has the same chemical make-up of its natural counterpart. A common example is sapphire which occurs naturally, and also can be found as a synthetic version, made in a laboratory. Although technically they are the same material (Aluminium Oxide), the synthetic version holds no significant value, although it can look very similar to the natural version. They can generally be identified from each other fairly easily, through studying the inclusions (marks) inside the stone, and more commonly, the curved growth lines (as opposed to straight lines in natural stones) that occur in synthetic stones, as a result of the way they are made.

Q: What is a treated stone and how can I tell if a stone is treated?

A: A treated stone is a gem that has had something done to it, to enhance the way it looks. This could be to make it brighter and more evenly saturated in colour, making a brown stone white (diamonds) or improving the clarity of a stone. Treatment is nothing new, it began in the 19th century, although rather more rudimental than it is now. Corumdum (sapphires and rubies) were essentially baked in special ovens to improve the colour. Depending on the stone, a variety of techniques are used, often using heat and pressure. Emeralds are commonly treated to enhance the colour, but also to improve the clarity as they have many naturally occurring inclusions. They are soaked in green oil, the gem absorbs the oil and it fills the small fractures, giving the emerald an improved colour and a clearer appearance internally. Although treated stones are incredibly common today, they are not as valuable as their untreated counterparts, which is why it is important to know if a stone is treated or not. Gems can be tested and certificated in laboratories to give the buyer peace of mind. A retailer should always be forthcoming about treatment in a stone. At Sandra Cronan we avoid treated stones where at all possible.

Q: What classifies as an antique?

A: Techinally an antique is an object over 100 years of age.

Q: How do I know that what I am buying is what you say it is?

A: Buying antique jewellery can be a challenge, there is a lot of reproduction jewellery out there. Furthermore, much jewellery has been modified, changed, repaired (sometimes not so well) and simply isn’t as it should be. At Sandra Cronan we pride ourselves on offering antique jewellery that is not only in great condition, but in its original state. Sandra has been dealing with antique jewellery for nearly 40 years, and this experience, along with that of her partner Catherine Taylor ensures that only jewels of the highest quality grace our cabinets. We scour the world to find such treasures, and are incredibly selective in what we buy, our impeccable reputation is important to us!

Published on: 9 September 2021