How To Clean (Organic) Gemstones

Est. Reading: 3 minutes
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November 23, 2023
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Over time, even the most treasured jewellery pieces and the brightest gemstones can begin to dull and lose their natural sheen. Sometimes, in the case of white gold, this can be due to a loss of the plating giving the metal its shine, but as is the case with most gemstones, this dulling is often simply due to the normal build-up of daily dirt and grime.

When it comes to caring for and protecting your treasured gemstones, regular cleaning is essential in ensuring they’re always looking their best and are always ready to wear. Although many professional jewellers provide cleaning services for a small fee, gemstones generally don’t require any specialised tools to clean them - this usually means that you can even clean your gemstones at home!

First Things First Though; What Are ‘Organic’ Gemstones?

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

Organic Gemstone Cleaning – Do's and Don’ts

The importance in understanding how to clean organic gemstones can make a world of difference in maintaining their natural beauty. Organic gemstones such as pearl, mother of pearl, coral, amber, and ivory are naturally very soft and porous.

You should never clean organic gems using any type of home ultrasonic gem cleaner as they can be easily damaged or dissolved by the machine’s heat and vibrations. As well as this, avoid using ‘hard’ brushes or commercial cleaners on organic gems – both methods can permanently scratch and stain the surfaces of these delicate and porous gems.

Organic gems can be damaged by improper cleaning so it’s important to remember to consult a professional jeweller if you have questions or are unsure about the exact material makeup of your gems.

Cleaning Organic Gemstones at Home

As mentioned above, organic gems like pearls, amber, and coral require care whilst cleaning as they tend to be far more delicate and porous than other ‘non-organic’ gems such as diamonds, rubies, emeralds, etc.

The best way to clean organic gemstones is to use lukewarm water with a few drops of mild dish soap (no detergents) – although it’s important to remember that they should never be soaked!

Here are some other handy recommendations when cleaning your organic gemstone jewellery:

  • To remove dirt, simply dampen a soft, clean cloth, and gently wipe the gems until clean.
  • New, clean makeup brushes are also great at gently removing natural oils, dirt, and grime. Avoid ‘hard bristle’ brushes as these can scratch the surface of softer gems such as amber and pearls.
  • Lay pearl necklaces or bracelets on a towel until completely dry, as the silk thread can stretch and attract dirt when wet.
  • If you’re cleaning more than one piece of jewellery, clean and manually dry each piece separately. Never leave amber to dry by itself, as there’s a high risk of it becoming ‘cloudy’.

Need the Help of a Professional?

If you’re unsure about the type of gemstone (whether it’s organic or non-organic), 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.

At Martin Gear Jewellers, 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.

For more information on our other jewellery cleaning services, click here.

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