Growing up, I lived next door to a family who had a beautiful garden in their backyard. The mother was an avid gardener, and she would spend hours working away in her little sanctuary out back. All these years later, I can still remember the sweetness of her delicious strawberries in the summertime.

When I got much older, my mom told me that Mrs. M, decades earlier, lost her diamond while tending to her fruits and veggies. I was flabbergasted. "Did she ever find it?" I breathlessly panted to my mom. "Nope, she never did," was my mom's reply. I was shocked. I would have dug up the whole yard. Who knows, maybe she did, but the fact still remains that her diamond was lost to the earth that it came from.

I've worked in the jewelry industry for over 22 years now, and if I add my experience to that of the three co-workers who happen to be in the room while I type, we have a combined total of over 100 years. With that much experience between us, we have heard some hum-dingers when it comes to stories that clients tell us about their jewelry.

Although someday it may be fun to go down memory lane and recount the stories that made us all laugh and the ones that made us gasp, what I want to address in this post, are some simple, easy, and practical tips to make sure your jewelry stays as beautiful as the day you received it.

Today, let's start with basic wear and care.

I know people are sentimental about wedding rings and bands, but there are many occasions when wearing your wedding rings can cause real damage to your treasured pieces. Ladies and gents, please, please, please take off jewelry when you go to the gym. Metal bars scraping against the shank of ring will most certainly result in damage. If you are lucky, you may get away with a few scratches, but if any stones are in the mix, this is a recipe for disaster.

Additionally, bands often spin on your finger throughout the day. Being mindful of your jewelry while gripping anything is the key to sidestepping unwanted damage. If you know you are "hard on jewelry" keep this in mind when you make purchases. Common prong bands with exposed diamond girdles (the edge of a stone), although very popular now, are not ideal when you fall into this category. Instead, opt for a channel-set or bead-set mounting that can take a bit more abuse. Be realistic about your daily lifestyle, and the level of abuse your pieces need to be able to endure.

Swimming, household cleaning, or any activity that exposes your jewelry to chemicals is another occasion to remove your treasures. Bleach can destroy jewelry. Chlorine eats solder. Perfume, hairspray, and chlorine will damage the luster of pearls. Pearls should be the last thing on and the first thing off when you are going out.

Jewelry requires maintenance too. Prongs wear over time. Wedding rings, especially, need to be checked every 6 months to a year to make sure everything is secure (depending on wear). Rings aren't the only pieces that need a little TLC. Many bracelets, pendants, and earrings also have prongs, clasps, and backs. If these are items you wear everyday, don't hesitate to have them checked. We clean jewelry and check prongs for free, so go ahead and add "Jewelry Checkup" to your spring cleaning list to make sure everything is safe and secure.

As a side note, when you take off your jewelry, be careful how and where you stash it. Diamonds scratch other diamonds, so carelessly throwing diamond jewelry into a jewelry box or bag where pieces can rub up against each other is not advised. Diamonds also have cleavage planes due to their natural structure. If you hit a diamond hard enough, or at just the right angle, the stone can chip or cleave (break in half). Many small diamonds fall out of settings for this reason, but it can happen to center stones too. Again, be cognizant of your jewelry as you go about your daily activities, and don't wrap it in napkins or tissues when you take it off. So many clients have accidentally thrown away jewelry when they have done this.

So, the next time you put on your favorite bauble, remember that jewelry is an adornment. Take care to keep it in excellent condition so it can continue to sparkle and shine.