Gemstone Care

We’ve put together the best advice on how to properly and safely clean, store, and wear your gemstone pieces so that they retain their beauty and shine for many years to come.


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.


Gem Care: Wearing Gemstone Jewelry

To avoid damage, it’s recommended that certain pieces of gemstone jewelry, including diamond wedding bands, should be removed for certain day-to-day activities:

  • Physical activities such as sports and exercise can cause settings to loosen. Gemstones can 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. It is best to remove jewelry before showering. 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

How to Care for Gemstones: Storing Gemstone Jewelry

Gemstone jewelry should be stored in a padded box or soft cloth bag. Pieces should be stored separated to avoid scratching (particularly important when traveling). This also applies to diamonds, which may not be prone to scratching but can be scratched by other diamonds.


Gemstone Care: How to Clean Raw Gemstones

To make your precious gems always look beautiful, you must learn how to clean gemstones as part of their care. Cleaning gemstone jewelry is an important responsibility of an owner. You can even introduce cleaning gems as a chore to your middle school-age kids so they learn proper care early.

  • For daily cleaning, gently wipe your jewelry with a soft lint-free moist cloth. A toothpick or soft-bristled toothbrush may be used to gently remove dirt or grime lodged in the setting.
  • For more thorough cleaning, recommended methods depend on the gemstone and metal type. Warm soapy water with a mild dish detergent is generally the safest option. Avoid using hot water or scrubbing jewelry with any abrasives or harsh chemicals. After cleaning, rinse, and wipe/pat dry with a damp cloth.
  • Ultrasonic cleaning machines for mechanical cleaning to clean gemstones are convenient but should be used with caution. Porous gemstones, brittle, softer gemstones and fragile gems can be damaged by the machine’s vibration. Generally, the use of the ultrasonic cleaning for gems falls into the following categories because some gemstones, although they could withstand mechanical cleaning, may weaken with acid treatments to improve color:
    • Avoid – for emerald, peridot, topaz, onyx, pearl, tourmaline jewelry
    • Okay if gems are not fractured, filled, or dyed – white diamonds, ruby, sapphire, amethyst, citrine, garnet
    • Okay – black diamond
  • Steam cleaning or heat-treated methods have some disadvantages for stones like opals and gemstones that are dyed, glued, glass or porous.
  • Make sure your stones are suitable for cleaning by a steam cleaner or use ultrasonic method.
  • It’s a good idea to have jewelry professionally cleaned regularly at least once a year or twice if you wear the pieces often because of exposure to everyday chemicals. Aside from a professional clean and polish, most jewelers can check pieces for loose settings and other signs of wear and tear.
Diamond

Diamond

Clean diamond jewelry 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 through ultrasonic cleaners unless the stone is fractured.

Ultrasonic or steam cleaners: Yes, in a jewelry shop with a professional jeweler (unless fractured)

emerald

Emerald

Clean emerald jewelry in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent or emerald-safe jewelry cleanser (always check the bottle and follow the gemstone care instructions). Rub gently with a soft cloth. Be extra careful. Avoid exposure to high heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. Extremely sensitive. May also be affected by chemicals like ammonia, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics.

Ultrasonic cleaning treatments: Avoid

ruby

Ruby

Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub the gem with a soft cloth or toothbrush. You may use an ultrasonic cleaner unless the gem is filled or dyed.

Ultrasonic or mechanical cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed)

Sapphire

Sapphire

Clean in warm soapy water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Gently rub the gem with a soft cloth or brush. You may use an ultrasonic cleaner unless the gem is filled or dyed.

Sapphire is a tough gemstone, like the Ruby, known for its durability, and traditional cleaning methods work as well.

Ultrasonic or mechanical cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed)

Peridot

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 cleanser (always check the bottle). Avoid any harsh chemicals. Gently rub the stone with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid

Amethyst

Amethyst

Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or non-abrasive jewelry cleanser. Gently rub the stone with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. You may use an ultrasonic cleaner unless the gem is filled or dyed.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed)

Citrine

Citrine

Clean in warm water using a mild detergent or try non-abrasive jewelry cleaning products. Gently rub the stone with a soft cloth or toothbrush. You may use an ultrasonic cleaner unless the gem is filled or dyed.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless filled or dyed)

Topaz

Topaz

Clean topaz jewelry in warm water (not hot) using a mild detergent soap 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

Garnet

Clean in warm water (not hot) using a mild detergent soap or non-abrasive jewelry cleaner. Rub gently with a soft cloth or toothbrush. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes. You can have garnets cleaned ultrasonically unless the stone is fractured.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Yes (unless fractured)

Onyx

Onyx

Wear and store with care to avoid scratching or chipping. Clean in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent soap. Do not soak. Rub gently with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, steam, or sudden temperature changes.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid

Black Diamond

Black Diamond

For gem care for black diamonds, clean them 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

Pearl

Clean pearls in lukewarm warm water using a mild detergent soap. Rub gently with a soft cloth. Avoid exposure to heat, hot water, steam, or sudden temperature changes. May also be affected by chemicals, hairspray, perfume, and cosmetics.

Ultrasonic cleaning: Avoid


Frequently Asked Questions About Gemstone Care

Precious stones should be left to soak in warm water which includes some mild detergent. After around 20 minutes of soaking, the gems can be brushed with a soft toothbrush to remove built-up oils, makeup, and day-to-day dirt. Ideally, having jewelry cleaned should be done twice a week. Avoid hot water as most gemstone pieces cannot tolerate heat.
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 when exposed to the sun. Extended exposure to sunlight heat can also impact the gem hardness making gemstones brittle and more susceptible to damage. The best gem care involves avoiding too much exposure to sunlight.
Oil can be applied to gems and is a common practice associated with the filling of fractures. Many gemologists are against this and advise that you don’t use oil on stones as it may devalue them as the oil could change their appearance.
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. For the best gem pre-use care, it is advisable to keep gems out of direct sunlight as it can make them brittle.
Using vinegar to clean gemstones is one of the best and most natural ways to clean gold and gems. Place your jewelry in a jar of white vinegar and leave for 10-15 minutes, gently shaking from time to time. Remove the pieces from the jar and scrub with a soft brush such as a toothbrush then rinse.
The best way to clean the jewelry for most (but not all) gemstones, is to let them soak in warm, soapy water for 10-15 minutes. Then gently brush them with a soft brush and rinse them under cold water. Dry with a soft cloth or let air dry out of direct sunlight. Use a mild dish soap detergent that doesn’t contain bleach.
As a general rule, the way to clean various gemstones using baking soda is fine. However, as it is mildly abrasive, care should be taken when cleaning gold pieces that may become scratched. Always use a soft brush for cleaning.
The safest gem care and best cleaning methods to clean colored stones and dyed gemstones are to wash with warm water and mild soap.
Amber, Pearls, Corals and Jet gemstones are organic gems or “natural gemstones (produced by a living organism, renewable and can be farmed). Coral gems and soft Jet gemstones are used to make beads, cameos, etc. Due to their organic nature, these stones are porous gemstones and are softer stones, and could be damaged by improper cleaning. Other porous gemstones are dyed turquoise and howlite.
The safest method of cleaning these: soak the loose stones and beads in warm soapy water and clean out the dirt from daily use with a soft brush. Dry with a soft cloth or air dry, NOT under strong or direct sunlight. Use a mild soap only when needed. Avoid acids like lemon juice and harsh cleaners like bleach or ammonia.
Raw gem special care: place the stones in hot water mixed with mild dish soap to clear away all the dirt and residue from the rocks. Heat exposure is acceptable. Use a soft brush to remove stubborn grime.
Store gemstones separately in a compartmentalized soft-lined box. If they can’t be stored separately then the best choice is to place each gemstone in separate soft jewelry storage pouches. Sometimes harder stones such as Diamonds and Sapphires will scratch softer gems such as Emerald, Lapis, so the safest way in taking care to store them separately.
Stones that can be worn every day with little worry to protect are Diamonds, Sapphires, Rubies, and Topaz. The gemstones that need to be worn more carefully due to their hardness and wearability are Pearls, Opals, Jades, Aquamarines, and Onyx.
Gemstones that can generally take heat exposure from soldering and casting treatments are Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Garnet, and Cubic Zirconia. Other gemstones that can’t tolerate and are sensitive to heat cleaners are Emerald, Opal, Jade, Amethyst, and Topaz.
This is one of the best and most natural cleaning methods to bring back brilliance. Place your gemstones in a jar of white vinegar and soak loose stones for 10-15 minutes, gently shaking from time to time. Remove the precious gemstones from the jar and scrub with a soft brush such as a toothbrush for polishing. Rinse under cold water.