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How to Care for Gemstones

by Staff Writer

Gemstone rings

Things You Need:

  • Water
  • Two bowls
  • Jewelry box
  • Non-abrasive soap
  • Soft toothbrush
  • Cloths and towel

Gemstones are beautiful additions to any outfit and gemstone jewelry can be treasured for generations. If you want to keep your gems sparkling like new jewelry, it is important to maintain proper care of them. With careful storage and an occasional cleaning, you'll have your gemstone jewelry looking its best for many years. Follow the instructions below to learn how to care for gemstones.

Caring for Gemstones:

  1. Research your particular gemstone. Although it may seem to be a simple task to clean gemstone jewelry, it's actually quite easy to damage some pieces; for example, certain gems, such as opals, amber and pearls, are particularly susceptible to damage. Read the care sheets that often accompany new jewelry purchases. If you have an older piece and you aren't sure what gemstones decorate it, take it to a jeweler for an evaluation.

  2. Visit a jeweler. Take your gemstone jewelry to a professional jeweler at least once every two years to have it examined for damage. The jeweler can fix loose settings and repair or replace damaged clasps. They can also buff out shallow scratches on many gemstones.

  3. Clean your gemstones at home. This method safely cleans most gems, including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and semiprecious stones. Lay your gemstones on a towel. Fill a small bowl with warm water and add a few drops of mild soap. Place your jewelry in the mixture and let it sit for five minutes. Remove the jewelry from the water and use a soft-bristle toothbrush to gently and thoroughly clean the entire item. Pay special attention to any areas that are attached to hardware and more difficult to reach. Brush gently to avoid scratching the metal sections. Return particularly dirty items to the soap and water; the combination of soaking and brushing should be enough to loosen any grime. Make sure not to leave any gems in the water for more than 15 minutes.

  4. Once you are satisfied with the cleanliness, dip the item in a bowl of clean water and give a slight shake to remove any soap. Dry the jewelry using a soft cloth. Finally, lay the piece on the towel again and let sit while you clean the rest of your gemstones.

  5. Pay attention to combined settings. Always choose the cleaning method for the most delicate material in the jewelry. For example, if your ring contains rubies and pearls, clean it using the method for pearls.

  6. Return the gemstones to a jewelry case. Store your gemstone jewelry in a padded jewelry box or armoire. Jewelry prongs and clasps can scratch gems, so make sure each item has its own compartment.


  1. Pearls are very delicate and require gentle care. Rub soiled or dull pearls with a non-abrasive cloth. If this doesn't clean them sufficiently, try using water mixed with mild soap meant for sensitive skin. Dip the cloth into the mixture and carefully clean the pearls. Dampen another section of the cloth with clean water and rub the pearls to rinse. Dry thoroughly with another soft cloth. Never soak pearls in a liquid.

  2. Certain organic gems and opaque gems are porous and absorb liquids, so they cannot be soaked in water or cleansers during the cleaning process. These materials include pearls, amber, coral, lapis lazuli and turquoise. Clean these gems using the method for pearls; however, just use water to clean amber.

  3. Opals also require special attention. The care of an opal depends on if it is a solid piece or one that's glued to a backing. A solid opal can be cleaned with a mild soap and benefits from an occasional submergence in water if you live in an especially dry climate. Opals that have a backing should never be submerged because this could cause the piece to break apart; clean these with a damp cloth.

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