Caring For Your Gemstone

jeweler polishing a gemstoneOnce you have acquired, inherited, or otherwise obtained a desirable gemstone, you must take care of it properly. Minerals are some of the hardest substances found in nature, but this does not mean that they are impervious to damage. Properly caring for your gemstones will ensure that you get years of enjoyment from its beauty and will perhaps one day be able to pass it on to the future generation. Read to discover common mistakes in storing gemstones, how to properly display a gemstone, how to clean a gemstone, and what types of situations to avoid.

Do’s and Don’ts of Gemstone Display

  • Do invest in a gemstone display tray. If you have or plan to start a gemstone collection, gemstone display trays are ideal for smaller stones, around one and a half carats or less. A gemstone display tray will include small round jars with foam inserts and clear lids so that your gemstone can be viewed from above and remain protected.
  • Do not tightly pack gemstone display jars and do not force the lid down on a gemstone. If the pavilion depth of your gem is interfering with securing the lid, cut down the foam from the bottom to allow for some airspace between the foam and the lid.
  • Do use a gemstone box with a clear top window for larger gems.
  • Do not store gemstones with the girdles touching. They can chip.
  • Do not store different types of gemstones together. Stone with a higher Mohs scale hardness can scratch softer stones if they come into contact.
  • Do keep your gemstones secure, preferably in a safe when not on display.

Do’s and Don’ts of Cleaning Your Gemstone

  • Do use a soft flannel cloth or chamois cloth to clean gemstones.
  • Do not use harsh solvents or chemicals. Household cleaners can damage gemstones, particularly softer gems.
  • Do use commercial jewelry cleaner and a soft brush on harder gemstones. Remember to read labels carefully. Even cleaning solutions especially formulated for jewelry can be too harsh for some gemstones. Opals, emeralds, amber, and pearls are a few gemstones that should never be subjected to commercial cleaners.
  • Do use an ultrasonic cleaner for stubborn dirt (but note that this is not recommended for all types of stones!). An ultrasonic emits high frequency vibrations and can loosen dirt. Safe for diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, ultrasonic cleaning is frequently used by jewelry professionals.
  • Do use pressurized steam cleaners especially formulated for gems and jewelry. Harder stones will shine like new.
  • Do not use steam cleaning on heat sensitive stones like aquamarine, emerald, tanzanite, opals, pearls, amber, and coral. These gemstones are extremely heat sensitive and could be damaged by steam cleaning.

Do’s and Don’ts of Caring for Your Gemstone Jewelry

If your gemstone is set in karat gold jewelry, there are some important things you should know. It is not appropriate to wear jewelry at all times. Read on for a helpful guide on when it is advisable to remove your jewelry.

  • Do put your jewelry on last, after getting dressed and after applying any cosmetics. Cosmetics such as perfume and hairspray can damage porous gemstones.
  • Do not sleep in your gemstone jewelry. Prolonged contact with skin can cause an oily film to accumulate on gemstone jewelry.
  • Do keep your jewelry in a pouch designed for storing jewelry or in a jewelry armoire. This will help prevent stones from getting scratched or necklaces getting tangled.
  • Do not wear your jewelry in a swimming pool or in a hot tub. Exposure to chlorine can damage the jewelry metal as well as the gemstones.
  • Do not wear your jewelry when gardening or playing sports. Activities where gripping is frequent can deform rings and compromise gemstone settings. Perspiration can dull the luster of gemstones.
  • Do not wear your jewelry to the beach. Prolonged repeated exposure to direct sunlight can cause the color in some heat treated gems such as amethyst and citrine to fade.

With simple care and attention to the nature of your gemstone, its beauty will last a lifetime and beyond. Heat sensitive gems should receive extra care. Precious gems, with the exception of emeralds, are able to withstand professional cleaning and the effects of daily wear and hold their polish beautifully. Do you wear your gemstones every day? Is there a piece of jewelry that you never take off? How have your attitudes towards gemstone jewelry changed after reading this article? We welcome your participation in the conversation.

Read other posts from the Introduction to Gemstones series.