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How to Clean and Care for Gemstone Jewelry

/ Post by Jan Mathews

In General

  • Except for delicate stones or necklaces with a silk cord, you can use plain, mild dish soap in lukewarm water and a soft toothbrush or artist’s brush. OK to soak for a little while but NEVER in saltwater. Use the brush to gently remove dirt, oil or dust. Rinse with a little bit of clean water and pat dry with soft towel, then air dry.
  • Bio-gemstones like pearl, coral and amber need special care because they are porous and delicate. Wipe clean with soft damp cloth and never soak in water or solution. Do not expose them to chemicals or cosmetics. And do not use steam or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as it may remove the outer coating or shine.
  • Remove jewelry before exercising, swimming or working with cleaning products or vigorous hand work like gardening. Don’t pull off by the gemstone or you could start to loosen or bend the setting.
  • Store gemstone jewelry separately so they don’t scratch each other. Rocks are hard and may have rough edges. Use wrap bags for travel.

For rough stones (not polished)

Carefully clean metal with a soft cloth or Q-tip. If the setting is silver, you can use a silver cleaner or special cloth just on the metal part. Do not wipe or rub the rough stone. OK to use a little puff of air if it is dusty. Or use a tweezer to remove lint.

For inherited jewelry

If the stone is sentimental, reset it in a modern setting to suit your style and to preserve the stone. Old settings may wear out, chains may be too fragile, silk cording may fray or the ring bands may become too thin to wear. Remember old faceted jewelry may look very different from today's facets due to changes in cutting technologies. So preserve the old stone facets by re-setting or restringing professionally and enjoy the history.

Sterling Silver

Remove silver jewelry before shower or bath. Avoid contact with cosmetics or perfume. Use the “last on, first off” rule when wearing gemstone, pearl or sterling silver jewelry. Always remove before bed, workouts or strenuous activities. When not in use, jewelry should be neatly stored.

Store silver jewelry in an airtight plastic bag or soft cloth bag with an anti-tarnish strip. Don’t place more than one item in a bag since they can be scratched. Wearing silver jewelry often keeps it from tarnishing so quickly as the natural oils in your skin cleans it and keeps it looking bright longer. However avoid contact with cosmetics, perfumes lotions and cleaning products as they tend to make silver tarnish quickly.

You can gently clean tarnished sterling silver jewelry with a specially treated cloth you can find online or your jewelry store. Larger items can be dipped or cleaned with a silver polish paste or lotion. However, be certain that any gemstone in the jewelry is not touched by any cleaning solution or it may be damaged.

In General

  • Except for delicate stones or necklaces with a silk cord, you can use plain, mild dish soap in lukewarm water and a soft toothbrush or artist’s brush. OK to soak for a little while but NEVER in saltwater. Use the brush to gently remove dirt, oil or dust. Rinse with a little bit of clean water and pat dry with soft towel, then air dry.
  • Bio-gemstones like pearl, coral and amber need special care because they are porous and delicate. Wipe clean with soft damp cloth and never soak in water or solution. Do not expose them to chemicals or cosmetics. And do not use steam or ultrasonic jewelry cleaner as it may remove the outer coating or shine.
  • Remove jewelry before exercising, swimming or working with cleaning products or vigorous hand work like gardening. Don’t pull off by the gemstone or you could start to loosen or bend the setting.
  • Store gemstone jewelry separately so they don’t scratch each other. Rocks are hard and may have rough edges. Use wrap bags for travel.

For rough stones (not polished)

Carefully clean metal with a soft cloth or Q-tip. If the setting is silver, you can use a silver cleaner or special cloth just on the metal part. Do not wipe or rub the rough stone. OK to use a little puff of air if it is dusty. Or use a tweezer to remove lint.

For inherited jewelry

If the stone is sentimental, reset it in a modern setting to suit your style and to preserve the stone. Old settings may wear out, chains may be too fragile, silk cording may fray or the ring bands may become too thin to wear. Remember old faceted jewelry may look very different from today's facets due to changes in cutting technologies. So preserve the old stone facets by re-setting or restringing professionally and enjoy the history.

Sterling Silver

Remove silver jewelry before shower or bath. Avoid contact with cosmetics or perfume. Use the “last on, first off” rule when wearing gemstone, pearl or sterling silver jewelry. Always remove before bed, workouts or strenuous activities. When not in use, jewelry should be neatly stored.

Store silver jewelry in an airtight plastic bag or soft cloth bag with an anti-tarnish strip. Don’t place more than one item in a bag since they can be scratched. Wearing silver jewelry often keeps it from tarnishing so quickly as the natural oils in your skin cleans it and keeps it looking bright longer. However avoid contact with cosmetics, perfumes lotions and cleaning products as they tend to make silver tarnish quickly.

You can gently clean tarnished sterling silver jewelry with a specially treated cloth you can find online or your jewelry store. Larger items can be dipped or cleaned with a silver polish paste or lotion. However, be certain that any gemstone in the jewelry is not touched by any cleaning solution or it may be damaged.

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