Taking care of your Gemstone

A gemstone is a mineral, rock (such in the case of lapis lazuli), or petrified material that when cut or faceted and polished is collectible or can be used in jewelry. Others are organic (such as amber, which is fossilized tree resin,and jet, a form of coal). Some gemstones which may be generally considered precious or beautiful are too soft or too fragile to be used in jewelry (for example, single-crystal rhodochrosite) but are exhibited in museums and are sought by collectors.

The proper care of gemstones is very important. Because of the composition of gemstones each one is very different in hardness, toughness, reaction to heat, light, acids, cleaners, etc. Gemstones can absorb chemicals which can change their color, a hard brush used for cleaning can scratch the surface, and some gemstones are even prone to lose their brilliant color when exposed to direct sunlight for long periods of time (Kunzite – lavender color). Taking care of your gemstone is a very important task and home maintenance is fairly easy once you know your stone. Purchasing a commercial jewelry cleaner is for the most part safe. A few stones to be careful with are: Pearl, Emerald, and Amber. The ammonia and or chemicals in the commercial cleaners can damage sensitive gems.

Gemstones are durable substances, still, they do need some care. Follow a few general rules and they’ll last for generations still looking brand new.

Keep your jewelry clean! Rings in particular tend to collect dirt behind the stone, especially if you wear them on a regular basis. You can clean transparent gemstones by simply soaking them in water with a touch of soap. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the stone.

Even the hardest gemstone variety can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions that weaken the crystal structure. Exercise common sense: if you have a ring set with a softer gem variety or an included stone, take it off before strenuous activity.

Even the hardest gemstones like Diamonds, Rubies and Sapphires can shatter with a single well-placed blow especially if they have inclusions, which weaken the crystal structure.

Think twice before putting gems in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires will be fine but many other gems may not be: when in doubt, leave it out. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires, and other single-crystal gems can be cleaned with a touch of ammonia in water to remove all films and add extra sparkle.

Never use an ultrasonic cleaner or ammonia for cleaning such opaque gemstones like lapis, turquoise, malachite or onyx. They should be wiped clean gently with a moist cloth. These gemstones can be porous and may absorb chemicals, even soap, which may build up inside the stone and discolor it.

The reason why these materials need more care than transparent gemstones is that these materials are essentially rocks, not crystals of a single mineral. Think about it: when you put a rock in water, it absorbs the water and is moist all the way through. A single crystal gem like sapphire will not absorb water: all the molecules are lined up so tightly in the crystal that there is no room for water to enter.

Opals also require special care. Never use an ultrasonic cleaner or ammonia, and avoid heat and strong light which can dry out the water in opals.

Organic gems like pearls, coral, and amber should only be wiped clean with a moist cloth. Due to their organic nature, these gems are both soft and porous. Be careful about chemicals in hairspray, cosmetics, or perfume: they can, over time, damage pearls in particular.

Store each piece of gemstone jewelry separately so that harder stones don’t scratch softer ones. Almost every gemstone is much harder than the metal it is set in. Gems can scratch the finish on your gold, silver or platinum if you throw your jewelry in a heap in a drawer or jewelry box.