GEMSTONE CARE GUIDE Gemstones that are used in jewelry are generally very durable. However, this does not mean that they are indestructible. Certain gemstones and metals are more vulnerable to damage than others. By handling your jewelry with care, you can prevent damage and keep your jewelry in perfect condition for years. A good jewelry shop (or most jewelers) will give you advice and tips on the proper care and cleaning methods for your gemstone jewelry. Many also offer mechanical cleaning services, like ultrasonic cleaning or steam cleaning. However, not all gemstones can withstand these mechanical cleaning processes. Consult our gemstone care guide below to find out which gemstones can be cleaned using which methods and how to clean gems at home. Gemstone Care: Wearing Gemstone Jewelry It’s recommended that certain pieces of gemstone jewelry, such as diamond wedding bands, be removed for certain day-to-day activities to avoid them getting damaged: Physical activities such as sports and exercise can cause settings to loosen. Gemstones can also be chipped by hard blows or damaged by prolonged exposure to sweat. Showering, cleaning, and swimming can put jewelry into contact with harsh chemicals and/or hot water. Thus, it is best to remove your jewelry before performing these tasks. Contact with hairsprays and perfumes should also be avoided. Removing jewelry when gardening, baking, or applying lotion will help to minimize grime build-up. Gemstone Care: Storing Gemstone Jewelry Gemstone jewelry should be stored in a padded box or soft cloth bag. In addition, pieces should be stored separately to avoid getting scratched (particularly important when traveling). This also applies to diamonds, which may not be prone to scratching but can be scratched by other diamonds. Finally, gemstones in silver or sterling silver settings need to be stored in tarnish-preventive bags and kept from direct exposure to sunlight while in storage. Gemstone Care: Cleaning Gemstones Regularly cleaning your gems will ensure that they retain their luster and keep them looking brand new. Here are the most common ways to clean your gemstone jewelry. For daily cleaning, gently wipe your jewelry with a soft, lint-free cloth. A toothpick or soft brush may be used to gently remove dirt or grime lodged in the setting. Recommended methods for more thorough cleaning depend on the gemstone and metal type. Warm water and a mild dish detergent is generally the safest option. Avoid using hot water or scrubbing your jewelry with harsh or abrasive chemicals. After cleaning, rinse and pat dry. Loose stones can be soaked in warm soapy water and gently cleaned with a soft toothbrush. They can then be left to air dry out of direct sunlight or dried with a soft cloth. In the case of dyed and opaque stones, the safest cleaning method is a solution of warm water and mild soap. Note that you should never use lemon juice or vinegar to clean these stones because the acidity can damage them. It’s a good idea to have your jewelry professionally cleaned at least once a year – twice if you wear the pieces often. Taking your jewelry in for a professional clean and polish also allows your jeweler to check for loose settings and other signs of wear and tear. However, be aware that ultrasonic cleaning is not suitable for all types of gemstone jewelry and, while convenient, it should be used with caution. The machine’s vibration can damage porous, brittle, and fragile gems. Generally, the use of ultrasonic cleaning for gems falls into the following categories: Avoid – emerald, peridot, topaz, onyx, pearl. Okay if gems are not fractured, filled, or dyed – diamond, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, citrine, garnet. Okay – black diamond. The rest of this guide will cover the best way to clean gemstones according to their nature and hardness. It will also indicate which stones can be cleaned ultrasonically and which cannot. Diamond The diamond is renowned for being the hardest substance on earth. However, despite its toughness, it is essential to clean your diamond jewelry using the most appropriate methods. Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub the gem with a soft cloth or toothbrush. You can have diamonds cleaned ultrasonically unless the stone is fractured. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless fractured) Emerald Clean in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent or emerald-safe jewelry cleaner (always check the bottle and follow the instructions). Rub gently with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Like many precious stones, emerald jewelry may also be affected by chemicals, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics. Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid Ruby Clean rubies in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed) Sapphire Sapphires are among the most commonly heat-treated gemstones. This gem should, therefore, be cleaned in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. A soft cloth or brush can be used to buff the surface of the gem. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed) Peridot Wear and store peridot jewelry with care to avoid scratching or chipping. Clean in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent or peridot-safe jewelry cleaner (always read the instructions before use) and a soft cloth. Avoid any harsh chemicals, exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid Amethyst Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub the stone with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed) Citrine Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or a non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub the stone with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed) Topaz Clean topaz jewelry in warm (not hot) water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleanser. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Ultrasonic cleaning: No Garnet Clean in warm (not hot) water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Garnets can be cleaned ultrasonically unless the stone is fractured. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless fractured) Onyx Wear and store onyx with care to avoid scratching or chipping. Clean in lukewarm water with a mild detergent. Do not soak. Rub the stone gently with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid Black Diamond Black diamonds can be cleaned in warm water using a mild dish detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes Pearl Clean pearls in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent. Rub them gently with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, hot water, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Pearls may also be affected by chemicals, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics. Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid Ultrasonic cleaning: void Tourmaline The best way to clean tourmaline jewelry is with warm, sudsy water and a soft cloth. Ultrasonic cleaning and steam cleaner: Not recommended Frequently Asked Questions About Gemstone Care How do you clean gemstone jewelry? Most precious stones can be left to soak in warm water with some mild detergent. After around 20 minutes of soaking, the gems can be gently brushed with a soft brush to remove built-up oils, makeup, and day-to-day grime. They can then be wiped dry with a microfiber cloth. Ideally, this practice should be done twice a week. Avoid using hot water as most gemstone jewelry can’t withstand heat. Which gems fade in sunlight? There is a common misconception that sunlight cannot fade gems, but this is not true. Some gems, such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, can change color with prolonged exposure to the sun. Extended exposure can also impact gem hardness, making the gemstones brittle and more susceptible to damage. Therefore, most gemstone care instructions advise against exposing your gems to too much sunlight. Can you put oil on gemstones? Oil can be applied to gemstones and is a common practice associated with the filling of fractures. However, many gemologists are against this and advise that you don’t use oil on precious stones as it may devalue them and change their appearance. Do gemstones fade? Some stones, such as emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, are known to fade when exposed to long periods of sunlight. Other precious stones, such as amber, may darken in the sun. Therefore, it is recommended to keep gems out of direct sunlight as it can also make them brittle. Can I clean jewelry with vinegar? Yes, you can use vinegar to clean gold and silver jewelry. Cleaning gemstones with vinegar is also one of the most natural ways to get them looking brand new. What is the best way to clean your gemstones? The best way to clean most (but not all) gemstones is to let them soak for 10-15 minutes in warm water with a mild dish soap detergent that doesn’t contain bleach and then gently brush them with a soft brush. Afterward, rinse them under cold water and dry them with a soft cloth. You can also lay them out to air dry away from direct sunlight. Will baking soda hurt gemstones? As a general rule, gem care involving baking soda is fine. However, it is mildly abrasive, and using it to clean soft gems and precious metals like gold could result in them becoming scratched. Which is the safest method for cleaning colored stones? The safest way to clean colored stones is with warm water and mild dish soap. A soft brush can also be used to scrub the stones gently to restore their color. How do you clean and polish raw gemstones? Gem care for raw stones involves one of three methods. The first method uses polishing powder and a denim cloth to clean the gem’s surface. The second uses soda (the kind you drink) to dissolve the oils clouding the stone. The third involves adding the stones to hot water with mild dish soap and using a soft brush to remove residue. How should gemstones be stored? Store gemstones separately in a compartmentalized box lined with a soft fabric. If they can’t be stored separately, place each gemstone in individual jewelry storage pouches. Gems should be stored in this way because harder stones like diamonds and sapphires will scratch softer gems like emerald and lapis lazuli. Which gemstones can you wear every day? Stones that can be worn every day include diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and topaz. Gemstones that need to be worn less often due to their reduced hardness and wearability are pearls, opals, jade, aquamarine, and onyx. How do you clean gemstones with vinegar? Mix half a cup of white vinegar with two tablespoons of baking soda and let your jewelry soak in the solution for two to three hours. You can then gently scrub each item with a soft brush before rinsing them in cold water and patting them dry with a cloth.