Looking After Your Jewellery
Diamonds really are forever – they are the hardest gemstone in the world, able to withstand everyday wear for decades. However, they do still get dirty, and need a bit of tender loving care to get them clean and sparkling again!
Jewellery containing diamonds can be cleaned in liquid jewellery cleaning ‘baths’. Many of these kits also come with a small, soft bristled brush. This can be used to clean behind the setting and remove the soap, hand-cream etc. that can build up in these hard-to-reach areas. It is this film on the back of the stone that tends to leave diamonds looking dull and lifeless in dirty jewellery.
Diamonds are incredibly hard and will not be damaged by gentle scrubbing with these brushes. However, if the setting of your jewellery item is already worn or damaged, it may dislodge the stone. If you are concerned about the condition of your jewellery, we recommend consulting a professional jeweller before home-cleaning.
Always clean your jewellery over a clean piece of kitchen towel, and rinse in a glass or small bowl of water (not under the tap, in case of loose stones!) If you don’t have a proprietary jewellery cleaner, a small bowl of soapy washing up water and a soft bristled tooth-brush will make a DIY home jewellery cleaning kit. In recent years there has been an increase in the availability of home ultrasonic cleaning kits – these are safe to use with your diamonds.
We’ve put these two gemstones in the same category as they are the same mineral – corundum – only with different colours! Ruby and sapphire are the hardest gemstones after diamond. They are suitable for everyday wear, although should of course be protected from unnecessary wear such as by removing them before housework jobs etc.
As they are hard-wearing, sapphires and rubies are able to be cleaned following the same instructions as for diamonds.
Emeralds are a part of the beryl group of gemstones, and are considered one of the ‘Big Four’ along with diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Emeralds are a very popular gemstone but they are not quite as hard as other gemstones and so need a bit more care.
Being a softer stone, emeralds are more prone to chipping or scratching so should be protected from mechanical damage by removing them prior to undertaking manual jobs, or covered with gloves if this is not an option.
Almost all emeralds contain varying degrees of fine fissures, which are treated with a process called oiling to make them less noticeable. Oiling is an historic, accepted practice and considered a standard step in readying emeralds for jewellery, and is not considered a treatment that must be declared.
However, some cleaning treatments may destabilise the oiled finish. Because of this, emerald jewellery should not be in contact with a ‘jewellery bath’ cleaning solution for more than a few seconds, and then thoroughly rinsed – it should not be left to soak. Also, if you own a home ultrasonic cleaner, you should not use it to clean jewellery set with emeralds. Gently buffing your emerald jewellery with a soft microfibre cloth is the best way to keep it dirt-free and looking its best.
Other Gemstones by Alphabetical Order
Amethyst is a member of the quartz family of gemstones and is characterised by a rich purple colour. It is a fairly hard-wearing gemstone and therefore suitable to be cleaned following the same instructions given for diamond.
A member of the beryl family and related to emerald, aquamarine is a beautiful gemstone ranging from sea-green colour to a clear pale blue. Being a slightly softer gemstone and the same care tips should be followed as for emerald. Although aquamarine is not subject to an oiling process, we still would not recommend prolonged contact with cleaning fluids or ultrasonic cleaners.
Citrine ranges from pale yellow to orangey-brown and most citrine is jewellery has been created by heating amethyst to cause it to change colour! Other than the colour, citrine has similar characteristics to amethyst and is suitable for cleaning by the same method.
Iolite is an unfamiliar name to many, but this gemstone is a beautiful blue-purple colour reminiscent of darker coloured tanzanite. A slightly softer gemstone, you are more likely to find iolite in earrings or pendants; if you do have it set in a ring, make sure to protect it from accidental knocks or wear that may scratch the stone.
Although iolite is able to be cleaned with ‘jewellery baths’ and cleaning fluids, we would not recommend it being left in contact with these liquids for a prolonged period of time.
Opal is a fascinating gemstone – no two are exactly alike. When most people think of opal they think of an opaque white gemstone with flashes of colour, but there are different types available. One thing is that no matter if you have white opal, black opal or even rare fire opal, these are soft gemstones that require extra care.
As softer gemstones opals are easily scratched, and an unintended impact could cause them to crack. Opals can look stunning when mounted in rings, but these pieces should be kept for special occasions. If you want to wear opals every day we recommend choosing a pendant or earrings, which are less prone to knocks and wear.
Opals are a very porous gemstone which means special care must be taken not to contaminate them with products such as cleaning fluids or hair dye, which could be absorbed by the stone and permanently damage it. Remove opal jewellery or (for rings) cover with gloves before using any products like this. If you’re not sure if something is safe to touch your opal, our advice is play it safe, take your opals off!
Because of their nature, opals should never be cleaned with liquid jewellery cleaners and we do not recommend using ultrasonic cleaners on opal-set jewellery. A soft polishing cloth only should be used to clean the metal settings around opal jewellery, and a gentle wipe over the surface of the stone with a clean microfibre cloth. If your opal jewellery is still looking dull, we recommend seeking the advice of a jeweller to have your item professionally refinished.
The gems of the sea, pearls are a classic jewellery item that have been treasured through the ages. Most modern pearl jewellery features ‘cultured’ pearls, which are deliberately grown from a small nucleus, usually a bead of mother-of-pearl. Well cared for, pearls have a beautiful shimmering lustre but there are several things you need to know to keep them looking in top condition.
Pearls are the softest gem we use in jewellery – soft enough that even dirt risks scratching them, so make sure that you keep them scrupulously clean! Pearls should be stored in a closed case to make sure dust does not accumulate on the surface. If you do need to clean them, use a clean microfibre cloth to gently rub them.
Pearls are porous and will absorb chemicals such as soaps and perfumes, causing them to discolour permanently. Because of this you should never consider using liquid cleaner ‘jewellery baths’ on pearl-set jewellery. If you are wearing pearl jewellery, always leave 10-15 minutes after using products such as perfume or hairspray before putting your jewellery on. This ensures that the product has fully dried on your skin and is less likely to be absorbed by your pearls.
Believe it or not, it is possible for a pearl to dehydrate! Dehydrated pearls may become brittle and dull. The best way to prevent your pearl jewellery from dehydrating is to wear it – the natural oils of your skin will keep the pearls looking lustrous for years to come.
*A note on strings of pearls
If you own a classic string of pearls, or a strung pearl bracelet, it is important to make sure that the string as well as the pearls are in good condition. Over time the stringing material will stretch and fray, putting it at risk of breaking. Allowing a string to get wet will also weaken it. If your string of pearls has started to stretch, for example you notice there is spare string for the pearls to move up and down the necklace, we recommend you find a jeweller who offers a professional restringing service to have your item restored. Please note that freshly restrung pearls may seem tighter than before – this is because they are newly knotted and the string is at it’s tightest. They will relax with regular wear.
Tanzanite is the hugely popular blue form of the mineral zoisite, found in only one area of Tanzania. There are many beautiful jewellery items set with this blue-purple gemstone, but it is a bit more delicate than some other gems, so take extra care with it!
Tanzanite is slightly less hard than some other gemstones, meaning it is more at risk of being scratched or chipped. Despite this it has become a hugely popular gemstone to set in rings, however at Broadway Jewellers we would recommend wearing your tanzanite rings for best, rather than every day. This will prolong the life of your jewellery whilst keeping your tanzanite in top condition. Alternatively, consider a pair of tanzanite earrings or a necklace, where the gemstone is likely to take less wear.
Tanzanite can be cleaned in liquid jewellery cleaners, however we would not recommend prolonged contact so do not leave it to soak, and rinse it thoroughly after.
Topaz is used in a range of colours in jewellery, most commonly blue or pink but increasingly white topaz is used as an alternative to diamond for decorative accents. It is a fairly hard gemstone that will stand up well to regular wear.
One thing to know about topaz is that the colour is produced by irradiating the gemstone. This is standard practice so is not usually declared as a treatment, and the colour change is usually stable and permanent. However it is possible that under intense UV light the treatment starts to degrade. For this reason you should never store your topaz jewellery in direct sunlight.
*A note on Mystic Topaz
Mystic Topaz displays an iridescent play of colour, usually purpley-green. However this is not a natural colour and is achieved by painting a coating on the outside of the gemstone. This coating can wear away or become scratched, so if you own a piece of mystic topaz take special care to protect the gemstone from mechanical wear.
Tourmaline is one of the rarer and lesser-known gemstones used in jewellery. It is found in a range of colours, although most commonly green and pink.
Tourmaline is a slightly softer gemstone and best kept for special occasions, rather than worn every day. Or you could invest in a necklace or pair of earrings set with tourmaline, as these jewellery items take less wear than a ring. If you do need to clean your tourmaline jewellery you can use liquid cleaners but we do not advise prolonged contact with the cleaning fluid, and ensure it is well rinsed afterwards.
Ranging from sky blue to vibrant blue-green, often with a ‘matrix’ pattern of dark lines, turquoise is a striking gemstone. Like opals and pearls, turquoise is a porous gemstone and requires a little additional care to keep it in top condition.
Turquoise is sometimes sealed with a waxy finished to reduce its porosity but it’s always best to play it safe and make sure that you keep any turquoise jewellery away from perfumes, hairsprays, or other chemicals that could be absorbed and discolour the stone. Turquoise should not be cleaned with liquid cleaners – if it needs it, then buffing with a clean soft microfibre cloth should be enough.