How to Care for Gemstone Jewelry
May 13, 2009 by Yelena Jenkins
A brand new gemstone has a smooth polish, beautiful color, and a brilliant sparkle. But if you plan on regularly wearing your beloved new piece of gemstone jewelry, it’s important to properly care for it to extend its life and beauty. Here are some of the most important tips to keep in mind when caring for gemstone jewelry:
When To Take It Off
Our favorite jewelry pieces are often the ones that have the shortest lives due to constant wear. Though it’s tempting to wear your pretty gemstone jewelry everywhere, avoiding these conditions will vastly prolong their life:
The Beach: Sweat, sunscreen and sand are a bad combination of elements for a gemstone. Porous stones like opal, pearls and turquoise can become permanently discolored from excess oils or sweat, and the abrasive texture of sand can wreak havoc on the smooth polish of many gemstones.
Chores: Housework, washing dishes and doing the laundry exposes your gemstones to a number of harsh chemicals that can alter their beauty.
Swimming: The chemicals that purify pool water are just as bad for your gemstone jewelry as household cleaners.
Getting Ready: Perfume, hairspray, lotion and even shampoo and conditioner have the potential to ruin gemstones over time. Make a habit of putting your jewelry on after you are completely ready, and you’ll never have to worry.
Working Out: Jewelry has little place in a gym anyway, but it’s worth mentioning that the sweat, grime and potential for impact during a workout is bad for gemstones, especially the softer ones.
When To Clean It
If you follow the guidelines above, hopefully your gemstone jewelry will stay fairly clean on its own. Gemstones should not be cleaned on a daily basis, as overcleaning can eventually dull the polish on softer gems. After a long period of constant wear, however, you should still clean your gemstones to keep them looking shiny and new. Here’s how to do it right:
Avoid Using Toothbrushes: Most gemstones are delicate; not nearly as hard or durable as a diamond. Diamonds, rubies and sapphires are the hardest gemstones, but even they should be treated gently during cleaning. Avoid using a toothbrush to scrub a gemstone, since the bristles can abrade the gem’s surface with tiny scratches. Over time this will cause them to lose their luster and sparkle.
Avoid Soaking Porous Stones: Pearls, opal and turquoise should not be soaked in water since these gemstones are porous and will soak up the water they are placed in. To clean porous stones, gently wipe them with a damp, clean cloth.
For Nonporous Stones, Be Careful of Cleaning Pastes: There are many cleaning pastes and creams out there, but harsh pastes can scratch soft gemstones. Always read the label on the cleaning paste or cream carefully, and when in doubt simply use a soft cloth.
Soak Dirty Gemstones Instead of Scrubbing: If you wore your emerald ring to the beach on accident, you might come home to find it covered in sand, dust and sunscreen. When a simple damp cloth won’t do the trick, mix a mild solution of gentle dish soap and water in a bowl and place the gemstone jewelry inside to soak. A few minutes inside the solution will loosen up the grime, as will moving the item back and forth while in the water. This way, you reduce the amount of scrubbing the jewelry is subjected to, prolonging its sparkle.
Avoid Ultrasound Jewelry Cleaning Machines: These machines can do a lot of damage to gemstones, and should be avoided at all costs. Though the hard gemstones are likely to fare well, the majority will not – and it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially with expensive jewelry.
If you’re in the market for a beautiful piece of gemstone jewelry, check out our expansive selection at Apples of Gold.
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