Proper Care of Gemstones

Although many people are content to collect gemstones, most gem lovers like to have their gems set in jewelry so they can be worn. Unfortunately, despite their reputation, gemstones are not necessarily forever and do need care. Some gemstones are somewhat brittle, many are quite soft, and some can be damaged by heat, vibration, or chemicals. Most people are not sure how to care for their fine gemstones. Here you'll find a few tips.

Stones that have a Mohs hardness of less than 71/2 are subject to scratching; harder stones are less likely to be scratched but are still subject to chipping and fracture. Quartz with a hardness of 7, is one of the most abundant minerals on earth, in the form of sand, or silica. When removing dust from soft stones, it's usually best to rinse them with clean water and dry with a soft cloth. Try and store your jewelry and loose gems in separate padded compartments or in soft lint free cloths to prevent scratching and chipping.

When cleaning gemstones washing gently with a weak solution of ammonia and water or dish soap, rinsing with clean lukewarm water, and drying with a soft cloth is quite effective and safe. Please, be sure to close the drain so your stones don't get washed down the sink. On stones harder than quartz (7 Mohs), it's safe to do a little gentle scrubbing with a soft toothbrush. Soaking maybe necessary to remove heavier deposits of dried soaps, oils and other dirt that has attached itself. Some stones can be boiled in your ammonia solution but you better stick with only Ruby, Sapphire and diamond, this can be done by placing the piece into a pot of COOL or LUKE WARM solution, and bringing slowly to a boil for 2 or 3 minutes ( Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond only ), you must watch this process, as the solution tends to boil up and if it all boils out, the stone will get too hot and be damaged or destroyed. On stones harder than quartz (7 Mohs), it's safe to do a little gentle scrubbing with a soft toothbrush. When cleaning jewelry, be careful not to scrub highly polished metal surfaces, with anything that is abrasive as it may produce small scratches which will dull the bright polish of the metal.

If you use hand creams, remove your rings before applying them! This will help prevent a heavy buildup of dirt and oil around your gemstones.

If you are working in the yard or doing heavy or dirty work with your hands, remove your rings so they will not be subjected to abrasives, unnecessary dirt or even being chipped. Even diamonds, rubies and sapphires can be chipped by a hard blow.

Pearls, coral, and porous stones such as opal, turquoise, lapis or malachite should be kept away from dirty water and oils to avoid discoloration. Do not wear rings containing these stones while doing any rough activity or washing dishes.

Be cautious about the use of ultrasonic cleaners. Some stones are subject to internal stress, such as opal, emerald, tanzanite, and may shatter. Other stones including gems such as pearl, coral, amber, turquoise, lapis, and malachite, should not be exposed to ultrasound. Tanzanite and emerald can shatter and opals craze under ultrasonic cleaning. If you are not SURE IT'S SAFE don't put your stones in an ultrasonic cleaner.

Many gemstones are heat sensitive especially to extremes and sudden changes in temperature this can cause anything from a small internal crack to a shatter gemstone. If your doing your own jewelry work always heat or cool all stones slowly. Do not leave your gems sitting in hot sunlight, or in hot cars.

Taking care of your gems will keep them beautiful for many lifetimes.