If you’ve ever dipped into the gemstone section of a natural history museum, you may have found yourself wondering about the legions of curators, scientists and experts tasked with keeping those precious stones gleaming. Happily, you don’t need access to a team of specialists to keep your own collection looking vibrant—there are plenty of ways to care for precious stones at home.
When it comes to cleaning gemstones, less is more. In most cases, you can make a cleaning solution with just a little dish detergent and a few supplies.
That said, there are some things to avoid doing if you want to keep your gems in beautiful condition. We’ll detail 6 recommendations for caring for your stones below.
#1 Make Sure You Know What You’re Cleaning
Before we get into our three-step cleaning process, make sure you’ve properly identified your gemstone and are aware of its unique physical properties.
Depending on a gem’s physical and chemical characteristics, it may react differently when exposed to elements such as:
- Acidic compounds
- Abrasive materials
- Store-bought cleaning solutions
If you bought your stone secondhand or aren’t sure about what it could be, you can always run it to a jeweler, geologist, or gem specialist to get a surer, more informed opinion.
#2 Avoid Harsh Cleaners and Solutions
Be careful when taking advice from strangers and the internet on cleaning gemstones. A quick Google search will reveal that vinegar is often touted as an easy, DIY cleaning solution for colored gemstones. And while some stones will stand up to a vinegar-based mixture just fine, its acidity may permanently damage others.
Even stones known to be extremely hard, like a diamond and a diamond alternative, may have inclusions or flaws that can allow substances to seep in and ruin their quality. Similarly, cleaners that contain ammonia can damage gemstones like pearl and amber.
#3 Use a Simple Dish Detergent Solution To Clean Your Stones
If you’ve already double-checked that you know which gemstone you’re cleaning, you’re ready to get started. You can polish up your precious pieces with these steps:
- Most types of gemstones can be cleaned with a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. Allow your gemstones to soak in a mixture for ten to 15 minutes.
- Use a brush to gently scrub any areas where grime, dust, or oils can collect (an extra-soft toothbrush will work perfectly). If you’re cleaning jewelry pieces, pay particular attention to metal settings and the areas behind them.
- Lightly rinse the gemstone in water and pat it dry with a soft cloth.
And that’s really all there is to it! Keep in mind that some colored gemstones, like coral and azurite, should not be left in water for a long time. If you’re trying to clean a stone that falls at a 5 or less on the Mohs scale, you may want to stick to a soft dry cloth to be safe.
#4 Store Your Gemstones Separately
If you’re committed to extending the life of your favorite gems or fine jewelry, taking care of them proactively is the best approach. Softer stones can be damaged, nicked and even cracked if they’re stored or tossed around with harder ones. To keep every gem safe, find an individual cloth bag or notch in your fine jewelry box for each piece to make sure they don’t come into contact.
#5 Remove Your Jewelry Before Exercising or Showering
While sweat and chlorine are less likely to hurt your gemstones, a hard blow from a fall or physical contact could crack or damage them. And if these pieces are set in metals like sterling silver or rose gold, the chemicals and minerals present in the pool or on your skin can surely injure them over time.
To prevent unnecessary or inadvertent damage, make it a rule to take off any precious pieces before working out, bathing, or taking a dip in the pool or ocean.
#6 Clean Your Gemstones Every Few Months
To keep your favorite rocks in top-notch condition, go ahead and apply this cleaning solution every few months. If you aren’t exposing them to the elements, just polishing them with a clean cloth may be enough to remove any layering of dust.
Gemstones that are worn regularly—like that diamond engagement ring you never take off or those pearl earrings you always wear to date night dinners—can be cleaned more regularly. Unsurprisingly, these pieces are often exposed to dirt, oils and grime that can build up rather quickly.
Find Lasting Brilliance at Diamond Nexus™
Caring for your gemstone doesn’t need to be a source of anxiety. This easy at-home process can be applied a few times a year to achieve an enduring radiance, particularly if you’ve selected a stone that’s built to last.
At Diamond Nexus, our diamond alternatives are made of carbon and designed to glisten through years of shining moments. Our pieces, made by master craftsmen, rival Earth-mined diamonds for their hardness and clarity—and they’re guaranteed to sparkle for a lifetime.
The Spruce. How to Clean Jewelry With Ammonia. https://www.thespruce.com/ammonia-for-jewelry-cleaning-2042881
Gem Society. Gemstone Care Guide. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/gemstone-care-guide/
Cape Town Diamond Museum. Mohs Scale of Hardness. https://www.capetowndiamondmuseum.org/mohs-scale-of-hardness/