laundry bleaches. A chemical reaction takes place between the chlorine and the alloy metals in gold jewelry and certain jewelry items actually disintegrate over time. Jewelry should be cleaned in an ammonia and water solution. If a ring is cleaned with chlorine bleach, the ring may turn black and develop small hairline cracks, even a few hours later. Research has shown that when a 14k white gold ring is placed in common household chlorine bleach for 36 hours, the end result was complete disintegration. The solution began to bubble only a short time after the ring was placed in the chlorine bleach, indicating a chemical reaction with the gold’s alloy metals. Pure gold will show no reaction. However, as jewelers know, alloys are added to most gold mixes. Karat gold is composed of a mixture of gold and various metals (copper, silver, and nickel among others) which affect the color of the gold and its hardness. In tap water, small amounts of chlorine exist, which probably accounts for the fact that after periods of time jewelry begins to weaken, such as prongs breaking. This has been blamed on poor-quality jewelry. In reality, it is due to jewelry’s long term exposure to chlorine. Dawson Jewelers recommends that people do not swim in chlorinated pools with their jewelry. Also do not handle bleach if the ring can not be rinsed off immediately. As for contact with household tap water, jewelry was made to be worn and shouldn’t be put away. Damage from tap water could take years and years so just have your jewelers check any doubtful items periodically.