Cleaning Your Diamonds And Gemstones

Keeping your jewelry clean is an important part of helping it last and continue to look like new even after years of enjoyment. But unlike most fine metals, gemstones require special care when cleaning them. Many commonly used gemstones can be easily destroyed with typical cleaning methods.

Safe Handling of Gemstones

Diamonds can handle nearly any method of cleaning. We have even used light acids to remove layers of chemicals like hairspray from exceptionally dirty diamonds. Then there are other stones like Emerald that can lose their color, and even crack is subjected to too much heat. Or even worse, gemstones like Amber, which is really fossilized tree sap, can actually begin to melt if subjected to enough heat when trying to clean them.

Home Steam CleanerAs with metals, there are a wide variety of at home jewelry cleaners that you can use. From small steamers to at home ultra sonic cleaners, these can all be used with due care to help keep your jewelry in as new condition as possible. The problem with cleaning your diamonds and gemstones at home comes in when it becomes time to decide how to clean each type of stone.

We’ve included a chart below to help you determine the best method for cleaning your diamonds and gemstones. This guide can help you keep from doing something terrible to your gemstones, especially the more fragile stones like Emerald and Tanzanite. But this should be used only as a guide. Stones that would normally be ok with certain procedures, but are heavily included or treated in some way may react in unpredictable ways. If at any time you are unsure what stone you are cleaning, or if it is safe, take your jewelry to a qualified jeweler to clean.

Using an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Home Ultra Sonic CleanerAn ultrasonic cleaner is one of the best ways to clean your jewelry. Unfortunately it can also destroy your jewelry if it is not used properly. The most important thing is to make sure that the jewelry you are placing in your ultrasonic can handle the vibrations and heat. Many gemstones will shatter, crack, and even simply vanish when placed in an ultrasonic. Use the chart below to see if your jewelry is a candidate for ultrasonic use.

Once you have determined that your gemstones can safely be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner you should inspect your jewelry to ensure that all of your diamonds and gemstones are secure in their settings. Especially small stones like melee are the most common stones to have some loose or fall out in an ultrasonic. The best way to check your stones is to lightly push on them with a toothpick or some other soft instrument and watch for movement. If the stones move at all, do not put them in an ultrasonic, take your jewelry to a qualified jeweler and allow him or her to tighten the setting for you. This will help insure that your jewelry remains secure.

If your stones do fall out in the ultrasonic, don’t panic. Carefully remove them from the fluid and place them in a small plastic bag that you can seal (a small sandwich bag works great for this). Then take the stones and the jewelry to your favorite jeweler and let him put them all back in. And don’t worry if this happens, it is much better to have the stones fall out in a bowl where you can find them than to have them fall out while walking down the street.

GemstoneBoilingSteamUltra SonicMore Information
AmberVery PoorPoor – FairPoor 
Amethyst & CitrineFairFairGood 
AquamarinePoor – FairFairFair 
Catseye & AlexandriteGoodGoodGood 
EmeraldPoorFairPoorAvoid all heat
Hematite & MarcasiteGoodGoodGood 
IvoryPoor – FairGoodFair 
Lapis LazuliFairGoodFair – GoodMay be dyed – will loose color
OpalPoorPoorPoor – FairHeat will crack stone
PeridotPoorPoorFairDo not heat
Ruby & SapphireGoodGoodGoodDo not heat oiled stones
SpinelFair – GoodGoodGood 
TanzanitePoorPoorPoorWill not take heat or pressure
TopazPoorPoorFairHeat may discolor or crack stone
TourmalineFairFairFairMay change color with heat
TurquoisePoorPoorPoor – FairMay loose color
ZirconPoorPoorFairDoes not take heat well

** CAUTION ** : This article is not intended to be a “how to” teaching document. It is meant to show you the basics of jewelry making as it applies to our business. As with most art, there are many ways do to many different things, this is just one of many. As with any jewelry operation, the tools, equipment, supplies, and chemicals are sometimes toxic and potentially dangerous. And finally, remember that fire is hot, and so is molten metal. It may remain hot long after you think it should be cool to the touch. Do not attempt these tasks at home.

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