Whether you received a piece of jewelry as a romantic gift or you inherited a valuable heirloom that has withstood generations, here’s how to store it so it stays safe, allowing you to enjoy it for years to come.


1. Clean After Use.

Just as your clothes can get dirty, so can your jewels. After wearing a special piece of jewelry, always clean the piece with a 100 percent cotton cloth or with mild soap and water, said Janette Jordan, owner of Jae Jae’s Jewelry in Bryans Road, MD. Then, make sure the jewelry is thoroughly dry before storing it.


2. Protect It From the Elements.

“The best place to store it is in an airtight container out of direct sunlight,” Jordan said.

Also, keep it in a dry location that has low humidity, as damp conditions could cause silver or other metals to tarnish.


3. Choose the Right Box.

All jewelry boxes are not the same. Brea, CA-based jeweler Lushae Jewelry advises that you look for one with soft lining to prevent scratching and with several compartments so different pieces can be stored separately. A box that contains a place to hang chains will help you avoid getting kinks in your necklaces.

Also, make sure the box is sturdy enough to protect your jewels if the box gets bumped or knocked around. If you have certain pieces that you wear often, consider keeping those pieces in a separate, smaller jewelry box, said Amanda Gizzi, a spokeswoman for Jewelers of America, a trade association for jewelry companies.

4. Store Pieces Separately.

Ideally, every piece of jewelry will have a place of its own. “Store each piece individually in its own compartment or bag,” Jordan said.

Not only will that prevent scratches, but it also will keep gemstones from becoming loose and your jewelry from becoming entangled, Jordan said. Even each piece in a pair of earrings should be kept separate. If not, “the post of one earring could scratch the other earring,” Gizzi said.

If you’re storing diamonds, pearls or other gemstones, use jewelry bags to add an extra layer of security within a jewelry box.


5. Keep Tarnish Away.

One of the biggest threats to your gold and silver is tarnish, a layer of discoloration that forms when metal surfaces become corroded. Jewelry bags often have been treated with chemicals that will prevent tarnish. To boost protection, you can add anti-tarnish strips to your jewelry box or wherever your jewelry is stored, Jordan said.


6. Protect It While on the Go.

If you want to store your jewelry while you’re traveling, use small plastic bags with zip closures, Gizzi suggested. The bags are clear so you can see what is inside, and putting one piece in each baggie keeps the jewelry from being scratched, she said. Also, allow the clasps of any chains to hang just out of the bag to prevent them from knotting up.


7. Give Valuables Extra Protection.

All jewelry is not alike. When it comes to irreplaceable pieces and family heirlooms, don’t leave safety to chance. “A secure jewelry safe is still your best option,” Gizzi said.