Jul 07 , 2020
BE CAREFUL WITH LIGHT AND HEAT
Just as the sun’s harmful rays can damage our skin, light and heat can affect a colored gemstone’s durability and color. Over time, and in excess, they can also fade or damage some gemstones, such as amethyst, kunzite, topaz and shell cameos. Pearls and other delicate materials, such as ivory, will bleach under extreme exposure to light. Other gems, especially amber, can darken over time when exposed to too much light.
KEEP YOUR JEWELRY AWAY FROM CHEMICALS
Exposure to chemicals can damage or discolor precious metals – gold, silver and platinum – and may harm some colored gems. Even everyday substances like hairspray, lotion, perfume or other cosmetics can contain chemicals that will permanently damage the surface of your pearls and other delicate or porous gems (like turquoise). Fine jewelry should be removed before diving into a chlorinated swimming pool or before using household cleaners. Many of these cleaners contain ammonia, which can be too harsh for delicate gems or vintage jewelry. Chlorine bleach, another common household solvent, can pit or damage gold alloys.
GIVE TREATED GEMS SPECIAL CARE
Many colored gemstones are routinely treated to improve the appearance of color and clarity. These treatments can be negatively affected by heat, solvents, steam and ultrasonic cleaners. Knowing whether your gem has been treated is the first step to knowing how to care for it. This is where a GIA report comes in – it contains important information about your gem and any detectable treatments it may have undergone.
USE ULTRASONIC CLEANERS WITH CAUTION
While you can purchase a professional ultrasonic cleaner for $150 or less, you should be aware that not all gems and jewelry can be safely cleaned in it.
Ultrasonic cleaners should not be used to clean:
- Gemstones with surface-reaching breaks that have been filled with a substance such as oil, resin or a glass-like material
- Organic gem materials such as pearls, coral, ivory, or amber
- Gems that have been coated with a non-permanent substance like plastic or wax
- Some heat-treated gemstones
- Gems that are susceptible to heat and temperature changes whether they are treated or not. Some of these gems include tanzanite, feldspar (sunstone and moonstone), fluorite, iolite, kunzite, lapis lazuli, malachite, opal, topaz, turquoise, zircon and others
What’s more, the vibration generated by the machine can sometimes shake gems loose or chip gems that are set with their girdles touching.
This type of cleaning is best left to jewelry professionals who know about different gem materials and understand when and how to use the ultrasonic cleaner safely.