Gemstone Cleaning Care Guide

In an earlier blog post, we talked about different gemstone treatments or enhancements that we can do… but listed below are tips on cleaning your gemstone jewelry.

There are many different types of colored gemstones, some of which require specific care and cleaning procedures. It would be impossible to enumerate all of them in this post. However, there are some general care and cleaning rules that apply to all colored gemstone jewelry.

The worst thing you can do for your colored gemstones is assume they are as sturdy as diamonds. Gemstones are far more fragile. As a rule, they should not be exposed to chlorine, extreme temperature changes, solvents, or harsh physical contact. Some gemstones are more susceptible to damage than others. Emerald, Opal, Peridot, and Garnet do not handle sudden thermal changes well. Certain solvents, including alcohol and acetone (nail polish remover) will fade dyed gemstones such as Jade and Lapis Lazuli. Sharp knocks can cleave (split at certain angles) Tanzanite, Topaz, Iolite and Moonstone. The best way to protect your gems is to treat them very delicately. They should not be worn to the pool, or while doing household chores. Jewelry should be stored in individual pouches or wrapped in soft material when not in use.

Flawed or dyed stones are perhaps the most difficult to care for. These stones tend to contain more fractures and enhancements. More often than higher quality stones, they are easily damaged through chemical exposure and physical abuse. It best to keep these pieces in storage until needed. However, some more expensive gemstones (including Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires) are equally vulnerable to harm. No matter the value of your gemstone, gentle handling and regular cleaning will ensure longer wear and enjoyment.

Basic Tips

After wearing, wipe your precious gemstone jewelry thoroughly with a clean, soft, slightly damp cloth.

Do not expose your precious gemstone pieces to salt water or harsh chemicals, such as chlorine or detergents. These chemicals may slowly erode the finish and polish of gemstones.

Hair spray, perfume and perspiration may cause jewelry to become dull. Apply all cosmetics, perfumes and colognes before putting on colored gemstone jewelry. Make sure to wipe your gemstones after wear to remove any chemicals, oils or perspiration.

Do not subject gemstone jewelry to sudden temperature changes.

If you have an active lifestyle take extra precautions with some types of gemstone jewelry. Emeralds, for example, are brittle and should not be worn when doing household chores or any other activity where the stone could be hit or damaged.

Be extra careful with ultrasonic cleaners. Some gemstones are fragile and can be damaged by ultrasonic cleaners. Consult your jeweler for the best cleaning procedure for your particular gemstone jewelry. Your jeweler is also a good source for any information on colored gemstones.

Caring for a Specific Gemstone

Emerald – Because Emeralds are oiled and usually included to some degree, this stone should not be placed in an ultrasonic cleaner. Emeralds should be cleaned gently with a small brush and lukewarm water. Avoid sudden temperature changes and sharp blows.

Ruby – Rubies are fairly durable stones; however, the filling process often used on rubies requires special care when cleaning the stones. This enhancement technique may wear over time if treated harshly or exposed to strong solvents or abrasives. Avoid direct heat.

Sapphire – Because the heat treating process used is permanent, sapphires are an unusually durable stone. Normal care in cleaning is used, but avoid direct heat.

Amethyst– Amethyst, like its cousin, Citrine, are an extremely durable stone that will withstand normal cleaning, but avoid direct heat.

Aquamarine– Do not use an ultra-sonic machine; avoid heat as it may cause discoloration.

Blue Topaz – Care should be taken when cleaning a topaz of any color. Do not use an ultrasonic machine. Avoid prolonged exposure to light and heat, as well as sharp blows or sudden temperature changes.

Citrine– As quartz, citrine is able to withstand normal cleaning but avoid direct heat.

Garnet– Garnet is an extremely durable stone and therefore will withstand normal cleaning.

Opal – Opal is a soft stone that requires care when cleaning. It should not be placed in the ultrasonic cleaner, nor should you use ammonia based cleaner on the stone. Clean with a soft cloth or occasionally a combination of a mild non-detergent soap (such as Woolite®) and warm water with a soft brush.

Peridot– Do not use an ultra-sonic machine. Avoid sharp blows and sudden temperature changes.

Tanzanite – Clean with mild soap and water; do not use an ultrasonic machine. Avoid sudden temperature changes and sharp blows.

See post on Gemstone Treatments/Enhancements

About Jewelry Warehouse

Jewelry Warehouse is a locally owned jewelry store that has 2 locations located in Columbia SC. We have been voted best jewelry store by the State newspaper – the largest paper in SC, for 22 years in a row. Originally founded in 1969, George Satterfield started the Jewelry Warehouse. It was his vision to always get quality jewelry but to price lower than traditional jewelry stores. After 40 years his vision has continued even after his death in 2005. With the growth and development of the internet, the plan is stronger than ever as not only does The Jewelry Warehouse still offer the best price and quality in SC, it now has the best pricing in the United States! People from California to New York now can get jewelry that is sold in the cities for significantly more, at South Carolina pricing. With a satisfaction Guarantee, buying from Jewelry Warehouse gives people everywhere a risk free opportunity to try us and save on quality merchandise.
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2 Responses to Gemstone Cleaning Care Guide

  1. Ellen Dianella says:

    My Dad put clear polish on my Moms opal ring in the 60’s. The polish has turned yellow making the opal look yellow. What can I do to remove the nail polish from the opal ring?

    • Hello Ellen, Unfortunately with the age of the ring, the polish has probably already turned the opal yellow and dulled it a bit and can’t be reversed. You can take it to a local jeweler, or us (If you are located in the Columbia, SC area) and we can have our jeweler take a look at it. Some Opals are very porous and can be damaged with adding cleaners or in an ultra sound cleaner. Good luck.

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