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[Orchid] Do Chemicals Effect Your Gold?
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Jerry Bowers Saturday, February 19, 2005
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    The wife loses a stone; the husband blames the wife; the wife blames
    the jeweler; the jeweler blames the manufacturer; the manufacturer
    looks for an answer. Hoover & Strong answers the question. What
    causes most prong breakage? Chlorine and bromine. Where does it come
    from? Hot tubs, swimming pools and laundry products. Hoover & Strong
    has conducted a controlled experiment to determine the effect of
    common chlorine and bromine products on jewelry settings. We tested
    household bleach, (heated and unheated), hot tub chlorine and
    bromine solutions, and a chlorine free dishwashing detergent. We
    tested 14K and 18K nickel white settings; set and unset, rhodium
    plated and not plated; palladium white gold and platinum settings. 

    Hoover & Strong's testing rates their products from the most durable
    to the least durable as follows: Platinum; rhodium plated 14K
    palladium white gold, 14K palladium white gold; rhodium plated
    nickel white gold, 18K nickel white gold; and 14K nickel white gold.
    Chlorine and bromine are commonly used chemical products to prevent
    bacteria from growing in our drinking water, in swimming pools and
    hot tubs. Too much of these compounds added may cause a human health
    threat and a durability problem for settings. The higher the
    concentration, the longer the exposure and the higher the
    temperature, the faster the deterioration of the settings. 

    Stress occurs in metals when they are worked. Stress can be relieved
    in metals by proper heat treating. A simple experiment to
    demonstrate this can be performed by bending a paper clip until It
    breaks off, count the number of times you bend the paper clip. Next
    bend the same paper clip just short of its breaking point. Heat the
    paper clip to a cherry red and let it cool. This IS called
    annealing. Now bend the paper clip and count the number of times you
    have to bend it before it breaks. The annealing relieved the paper
    clip stress. 

    The test solutions are listed in order from the product causing the
    most damage to the least harmful. The rings soaked in heated bleach
    suffered the most catastrophic failure. The 14K nickel white gold
    was the first to fail in all solutions except the household
    detergent. The household detergent had little or no effect on the
    rings or settings. The test was stopped when the first setting
    failed and all items were compared. Based on our testing, a consumer
    wearing a 14K nickel white gold setting would lose a stone or expect
    prong breakage as follows: 

    Results Of Each Solution 

    1. 5% chlorine bleach heated to 110F, prong failure would occur
    after 21 hours of exposure. Only the platinum and palladium white
    gold settings held their stones in the worst test solution. 

    2. 5% chlorine bleach room temperature -prong failure would occur
    after 120 hours of exposure. 

    3. 5 ppm (parts per million) chlorine using hot tub chemicals-prong
    failure would occur after 312 hours or 156 days.*4', 5 ppm (parts
    per million) bromine using hot tub chemicals-prong failure would
    occur after 384 hours or 192 days. * 

    5. Household detergent -no visible effects on the setting. 


    Hoover & Strong's recommendations: Use platinum settings, 14K
    palladium white settings. Rhodium plate 18K or 14K white settings,
    the rhodium plating will provide a protective coating to protect the
    setting; similar to paint stopping rust. 

    Last but not least, tell your customers not to wear their jewelry in
    hot tubs and swimming pools. Take jewelry off when using laundry or
    cleaning products. NEVER, NEVER clean rings with bleach. Suggest
    that they bring them to you for cleaning and a checkup, just like
    going to the dentist to have their teeth cleaned and checked. 

    * based on 2 hours a day, 7 days a week 

Hoover and Strong

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