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tline3open  Cleaning jewelry containing gem stones?

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Author Topic:   Cleaning jewelry containing gem stones?
jersey

Posts: 1202
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-02-2014 08:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello & thank you in advance for any help.

When, if at all, is it safe to clean jewelry with gem stones, I.e., pearls, diamonds, rubies etc. by dipping them in jewelry cleaner? Or what gems stones should not be dipped? Is there a list of some kind to say which ones can or can't be done this way?
I hope I have made myself clear. Any questions welcome.

Thank you again for any help.

Jersey

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Polly

Posts: 1843
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-06-2014 08:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It depends on the the gems and what's in the "jewelry cleaner."

Organic materials such as pearl, mother of pearl, amber, wood, ivory, and bone should not be dipped in harsh chemicals. Neither should soft or delicate stones such as opals, or gemstones that have been treated with dyes, resins, glues, etc.

You can clean pearls and mother of pearl by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. Metal jewelry set with pearls (a gold ring with a pearl in it, say) can be cleaned by dipping it in a weak solution of mild dishwashing detergent and water, then rinsing gently in water and drying with a soft cloth. If the jewelry is very dirty, you can soak it in the weak solution of dishwashing and water, then brush very gently with a very soft old toothbrush, rinse, and dry. Opals can be cleaned the same way.

Generally speaking, the harder the stone, the more cleaning it can stand. Diamonds and corundum (= rubies and sapphires), the hardest stones, can even be soaked in an ammonia solution. Do NOT try that on your pearls, opals, and ivory!

When in doubt, just use the gentle dishwashing liquid and water solution.

And remember to keep the drain in your sink plugged when you rinse your jewelry! You don't want your precious stones falling out and washing away down the drain.

[This message has been edited by Polly (edited 05-06-2014).]

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Polly

Posts: 1843
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-06-2014 08:12 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Add coral to that list of organic materials you should take care with. And never get soap on your turquoise--it will turn from blue to olive-y green.

If you do a search for "gemstone cleaning chart" you will find useful info.

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jersey

Posts: 1202
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-06-2014 09:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Polly!

Thank you so much for your great information. My main concern, is if it it set I gold or silver would it be safe to dunk the entire piece, be it a ring, bracelet or necklace. Or....do it by hand in segments or what. Does that make sense to you?

Thank you again for your helpful information. I'll ck out your links.


Jersey

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Polly

Posts: 1843
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-08-2014 09:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, gold shouldn't tarnish (unless it's very low karat), so if the stones are set in gold, you can go ahead and use whatever cleaning method is appropriate for the stones. Gold can stand up to most chemicals, though I've heard that too much chlorine can make gold brittle. So don't use chlorine bleach. But you weren't going to do that anyway, were you? And don't wear your gold diamond ring in the swimming pool all summer long, or you might break a prong and lose the diamond.

Same with platinum--it doesn't tarnish and it stands up to most chemicals, so go ahead and use whatever cleaning method is appropriate for the stones.

Silver does tarnish, of course, and I imagine that silver dips might damage some of the more delicate stones (though I don't know that for a fact). Silver dip isn't great for jewelry anyway--it makes it look flat. When I clean silver jewelry set with stones, I polish it gently with a silver polishing cloth, avoiding the stones. And if it's appropriate for the stones, I may also wash the piece with a soft toothbrush and a weak solution of water and dishwashing liquid, then rinse gently.

The same method works for badly tarnished low-karat gold pieces--a Victorian brooch made of 9K gold set with a glass paste stone, say. I mostly leave pieces like that unpolished, though. I like the look of old, tarnished 9K gold.

I do have a silver ring set with a diamond. It's a modern ring, only a few years old. I polish it with a silver cloth when it gets tarnished, and I clean the diamond with the soft-toothbrush method and either water/dishwashing liquid or a dilute solution of ammonia. Ammonia doesn't hurt diamonds. I wouldn't use it on more delicate stones, like opals or moonstones. And if the ring were old--most diamonds set in silver are from the 19th century or earlier--I would hesitate to clean it with anything stronger than dishwashing liquid and water.

One last comment: Jewelry where the stones are foiled or set with closed backs--that is, settings where there's metal behind the stone and you can't get at the back of the stone--should not get wet. Water or cleaning liquid could get behind the stone and make it look dirty and cloudy.

Jewelry cleaners should say on the bottle which kinds of stones they can be used on safely. I would be careful with things like pearls, coral, amber, moonstones, opals, turquoise, and other organic, soft, or delicate materials, though, even if the bottle says they're safe. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, tourmalines, chrysoberyls, spinels, and aquamarines should probably be fine in most jewelry cleaners. Emeralds might be okay, but they might not--if they've been treated with dyes and resins, which they often are, a cleaner might affect them. Same with jade and anything else that might be dyed, glued, etc.

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jersey

Posts: 1202
Registered: Feb 2005

iconnumber posted 05-09-2014 09:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for jersey     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hello Polly!
Thank you so much for your additional information. I appreciate it so much. It was very helpful. I think I will try the cleaning it myself by hand first. Some of my pieces I am not sure of the stones so I will avoid dunking them.
What is so difficult is that many older antique precious stones have been set in other metals that today we would not consider doing. I have a local jeweler that maybe he will be able to tell me if any of the stones have merit.
I also wish I had someone that would appreciate them. I have sons that other than diamonds & opals that are small enough would not be able to reset them without being too gaudy. Aside from that that are not big on jewelry. Maybe after I leave this earth they will rethink that & want a remembrance of me. LOL!

Than you again!

Have a great day!

Jersey

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Polly

Posts: 1843
Registered: Nov 2004

iconnumber posted 05-17-2014 10:46 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Polly     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Jersey, if you post photos of the pieces you're wondering about, I might be able to give you more specific advice about how to clean them.

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