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How To Clean (Non-Organic) Gemstones

Est. Reading: 3 minutes
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January 24, 2022
close up of a jeweller inspecting a sapphire gemstone

To ensure that your precious and semi-precious gemstones look both as vibrant and beautiful as the very first day you brought them home, it’s necessary to give them a regular clean.

Regular cleaning is essential to maintaining a brilliant appearance so that the metal and gemstones are always looking their best and are always ready to wear. As well as that, it also helps to avoid build-up of dirt or grime that can make the piece look dull or cause it to lose its shine.

Although many professional jewellers provide cleaning services for a small fee, gemstones usually don’t require any special care or tools to clean them. This means that you can even clean gemstones at home.

First things first though; what are ‘non-organic’ gemstones?

Gems are classified in many ways. ‘Organic’ gemstones are stones that have ‘organic’ or ‘living’ origins - think pearls, coral, and amber. ‘Non-organic’ gemstones on the other hand have ‘mineral’ origins – think diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies, etc.

Gemstone Cleaning – Do's and Don’ts

Before you begin cleaning your precious gemstones, it’s important to first add a little ‘gemmology’ to the mix. Gemstones of different types tend to have very different physical properties. This means that each stone can react very differently to light, heat, and cleaning products.

With this in mind, it’s always important to first know the exact type of stone that you’re dealing with. This will avoid any potential damage during cleaning, as many harsh chemicals can often dull or even pit the surface of softer gemstones. When unsure, it’s always best to contact a professional to have your gemstone inspected and identified.

Once you’ve identified your gems, you’ll then be able to better understand their individual cleaning requirements. Please note that to ‘scrub’ away dirt or grime, we recommend using a toothbrush designated ‘soft’ or ‘extra soft’, to avoid scratching.

Cleaning Gemstones at Home

For many gemstones, a mild detergent, some warm water, and a soft brush are usually the best way to bring them back to their natural lustrous state.

Here are some more handy recommendations for cleaning your gemstone jewellery:

  • Most commercial jewellery cleaners are safe, however beware of those that contain ammonia as they can damage particularly sensitive gems.
  • Allow particularly ‘dirty’ gem pieces to soak for approximately ten minutes at a time between cleaning passes.
  • A toothpick is a great tool for removing heavy dirt or grime in jewellery - just remember not to be too forceful, as patience is key to avoid damaging metal and gemstones.
  • Once you’ve finished cleaning, dip the jewellery piece back into the solution (detergent, soapy water, etc.) for one last wetting. Then, rinse in warm running water that is ideally around the same temperature as your cleaning solution. Radical temperature changes are dangerous and should be avoided as they can damage the setting.
  • Carefully shake or blow on the jewellery piece to remove excess liquid, then gently polish to a shine using a soft lint-free cloth.

Need the Help of a Professional?

If you’re unsure about the type of gemstone, or if you’re not quite confident enough to begin cleaning your own precious jewellery or gemstones, then it’s always important to consult a professional.

We’ve been manufacturing, selling, and cleaning jewellery for decades, right from our Dublin City centre shop. Simply drop into our store on 5 Mary St, Dublin 1, or alternatively, just give us a call now on (01) 872 8726 and we’d be happy to help.

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