Welcome to Gold Definitions | Local: 253.841.8826 | 13333 Meridian East, Suite F, Puyallup, WA 98373
Menu

Taking Care of Gemstones

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 fossilised 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 - lavendar color). Taking care of your gemstone is a very important task and home maintanence 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.

 

GemstonesTreatments/Benefits Care Instructions

 

Normal care

None

Agate(see Chalcedony)

Normal care

None

Alexandrite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Almandite(Garnet)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Occasionally heat- treated or dyed to deepen color

Amber

Normal care

Occasionally heat- treated to improve color

Amethyst(Quartz)

Normal care

None

Ametrine(Quartz)

Normal care

Rarely heat-treated to improve color

Andalusite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Apatite

Normal care

Usually heat-treated to improve color

Aquamarine(Beryl)

Normal care

None

Aventurine(Quartz)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Rarely filled with epoxy or resin for smoother surface

Azurite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Rarely filled with epoxy or resin for smoother surface

Azurmalachite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Usually irradiated and heated to produce blue color

Blue Topaz

Normal care but avoid excessive heat.

Commonly heated for color enhancement

Canary Aqua

Normal care

None

Cat's Eye

Normal care

Usually dyed or heat-treated to produce different colors

Chalcedony

Avoid chemicals and sudden temperature changes

None

Chrome Diopside

Normal care

Usually heat-treated to improve color

Citrine(Quartz)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Usually dyed or bleached to improve color

Coral

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Demantoid(Garnet)

Normal care

None

Diamond - clear

Normal care

Usually heat-treated or irradiated for color

Diamond - colored

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Usually oiled to improve color

Emerald(Beryl)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Usually heat teated or irradiated to improve color

Fluorite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Garnet(also listed by type)

Normal care

Occasionally stabilized with plastic

Gaspeite

Normal care

None

Goshenite

Normal care

Irradiated for color enhancement

Heliodor

Normal care

None

Hematite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Hessonite(Garnet)

Avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Occasionally dyed to improve color and to emulate turquoise

Howlite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Commonly heat-treated to impr

Indicolite(Tourmaline)

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Iolite

Normal care

Commonly dyed, heated, occasionally filled with wax for appearance

Jade

Normal care

Occasionally dyed to enhance color

Jasper

Avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Jet

Normal care but avoid rough handling

None

Kornerupine

Avoid sudden temperature changes, rough handling and exposure to strong light

Usually irradiated to enhance color

Kunzite(Spodmene)

Avoid rough handling, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Kyanite

Avoid rough handling, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Labradorite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Commonly dyed and paraffin-coated for color and shine

Lapis Lazulli

Normal care

None

Lepidolite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Wax or epoxy occasionally added to cover small chips and to smooth surface

Malachite

Normal care

None

Mariposite

Normal care

None

Moldavite

Normal care

None

Moonstone

Normal care

Commonly heat-treated to enhance color

Morganite

(Beryl)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Commonly dyed to produce colors

Mother ofPearl

Normal care

None

Muscovite

 

 

Normal care but avoid abrasives and harsh chemicals. These stones should not be recut.

The top is coated to enhance the color.

Mystic Topaz

Normal care

Commonly dyed

Onyx

(Chalcedony)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

To enhance appearance and durability, wax, oil or plastic may be added

Opal

Avoid chemicals (including hairspray and cosmetics), steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Commonly bleached or dyed
for consistent color

Pearl

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning, sudden temperature changes

None

Peridot

Avoid rough handling, ultrasonic cleaning

None

Petalite

Normal care

None

Petrified Wood

(see Chalcedony)

Normal care

None

Pietersite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Pyrope

(Garnet)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Occasionally stabilized withplastic

Rainbow Calsilica

Avoid chemicals, rough handling, and excessive heat.

None

Rhodochrosite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Rhodolite

(Garnet)

Normal care

None

Rhodonite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Rosenite

(Garnet)

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Commonly heat-treated or irriadiated to enhance color

Rubellite

(Tourmaline)

Normal care

Usually heat-treated to enhance color

Ruby

Normal care

None

Rutilated Quartz

Normal care

Usually heat-treated to enhance color

Sapphire

Avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaning, avoid exposure to strong light

Commonly irradiated for color enhancement

Scapolite

Avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Commonly dyed or waxed to improve appearance or alter colors

Serpentine

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

Commonly dyed to produce colors

Shell

Normal care

Occasionally heat-treated or irradiated to improve color

Smokey Quartz

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Sodalite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Spessartite

(Garnet)

Avoid chemicals, sudden temperature changes, and rough handling

None

Sphene

Normal care

None

Spinel

Avoid steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Sugilite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Sunstone

Avoid steam, ultrasonic cleaning and sudden temperature changes

Zoisite is routinely heat-treated to produce Tanzanite´s signature violet-blue color

Tanzanite

Normal care

None

Tiger Iron

Avoid sudden temperatures changes and strong chemicals

Commonly heat-treated, dyed or bleached to enhance color

Tiger's Eye

(Quartz)

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Usually heat-treated to create colors

Topaz

(other than blue)

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Green and blue commonly heat-treated to enhance color.

Tourmaline

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

None

Tsvorite

(Garnet)

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning. Perspiration and cosmetics may alter color.

Commonly stabilized — infused with plastic to enhance durability and color

Turquoise

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Unakite

Avoid chemicals, steam and ultrasonic cleaning

None

Variscite

Normal care but avoid sudden temperature changes

Commonly heat-treated to enhance color

Verdelite

(Tourmaline)

Normal care

None

White Aqua

(Beryl)

Normal care but avoid excessive heat

Commonly heated for color enhancement

Yellow Beryl

(Heliodor)

Avoid abrasives, rough wear and exposure to strong light.

Routinely heat-treated to create blue color

Zircon