On National Jewel Day, preserve your fine jewelry

Diamonds are the hardest natural-made substance that we know of, but not the toughest, according to jeweler Steve Ginsberg. That means that while they're difficult to scratch, they can still chip or break. (CBS2/FOX28)

Diamonds are the hardest natural substance we know of, but they're not the toughest. Cedar Rapids jeweler Steve Ginsberg says that's an important distinction.

"A common misperception about diamonds is that they're indestructible," said Ginsberg, whose family has been in the business of Ginsberg Jewelers for over 100 years. "Diamonds are not the toughest gem. They will chip and break."

So keep your eye on your jewel. If it does chip, he says, you might be able to hide it by turning the gem so a prong covers it. That way, the chip will also not catch on anything.

As for cleaning your gems, normal dish soap will do. You can also try ultrasonic jewelry cleaners, but stay away from that with certain gems.

"The emerald or the tanzanite - no no!" said Ginsberg. "You don't want the vibrations or those chemicals to shake them in the setting."

Be sure to protect your jewelry from things like hairspray or even face lotion--especially a string of pearls.

"You'll kill the pearl!" said Ginsberg.

Well, not quite, but you'll damage it because it erodes the pearl's layers.

And, Ginsberg says, unlike other family valuables like cars that eventually fall apart--

"If you take good care of gems they'll last for hundreds of years," said Ginsberg.

It's important to talk to your jeweler about how to get the most for your money...and your memories.

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