How to Clean Gemstones Like a Pro

Leigha is a writer and artist living in Toronto, Ontario. She loves to mix and match…

If you own gemstone jewelry, you know that no matter how careful you are, your gemstones always seem to attract dirt and other grime. Gemstones can add sparkle and personality to any outfit, but they need to be cleaned regularly to keep them looking their best. If your piece looks a little worse for wear, don’t worry – cleaning it is easy! We’ll teach you how to clean your gemstones properly and what types need special care.

What are gemstones?

When you think about gems, you may think of precious stones like diamond, emerald, ruby, and sapphire, which bring a beautiful shine to any piece of jewelry! But they all need a bit of care.

Gemstones vary in shape, size, and durability, which all play a role in handling. Since each gemstone is unique, they each have unique cleaning methods, too. 

There are common methods for cleaning various types of gemstones. But to be sure you don’t ruin your stones, it’s crucial to know the best way of cleaning them before trying anything else.

How to Clean Gemstones 

How to Clean Gemstones

Cleaning gemstones is a bit like cleaning different types of glass. You wouldn’t use the same cleaning method for a drinking glass as a mirror – and the same goes for gemstones.

💡 Take Note: The basic and most common way to clean your gemstone jewelry is by using a bowl of warm water with a few drops of gentle dish soap. 

Soak your gemstones in the solution, and then, using a soft toothbrush, scrub gently behind the stone – this is the area where most of the dirt and grime can build up.

After washing, all that’s left is to rinse your jewelry with fresh water and pat it dry with a microfiber cloth.

💡 Not One-Size-Fits-All: While this is the most common cleaning method, remember that not all gemstones are the same. Softer stones, such as pearl and opal, can be damaged by more abrasive materials and scrubbing.

How to Clean Multi-Faceted Gemstones 

Some gemstones, such as diamonds and moissanite, are multi-faceted – this means that they have multiple flat surfaces or facets. 

Each facet reflects light differently, giving the gemstone sparkle and shine unlike other gems.

However, because of the many different angles and surfaces, dirt and grime can more easily build up in the facets, making them more challenging to clean than smooth, single-faceted gemstones.

It is best to use a soft cloth and gentle cleanser for multi-faceted gemstones. Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaners. You also need to be careful not to scrub too hard, as this could damage the delicate surface.

What’s the best way to clean each gemstone? 

To simplify things, we’ve compiled a table on some of the popular gemstones and outlined the best methods for cleaning each. 

💡 Keep in Mind: While these are the best at-home methods for your gemstones, other jewelry parts might not react well to these methods. 

For example, gold-plated jewelry can scratch or become discolored if cleaned using an ultrasonic cleaner.

Be sure to check that each part of your jewelry will be safe before using these methods.

TypeCleaning Method
AmethystSoak in soapy water, rinse, and scrub with a soft brush.
Can be boiled and ultrasonic cleaned.
AquamarineSoak in soapy water, rinse, and scrub with a soft brush. 
Can be ultrasonically cleaned.
CitrineSoak in soapy water, rinse, and scrub with a soft brush. 
Can be boiled and ultrasonic cleaned.
DiamondSoak in soapy water, rinse, and scrub with a soft brush. 
Can be boiled and ultrasonic cleaned.
EmeraldUse soapy water and a moist cloth. Do not soak.
OpalWipe down with a moist cloth. Do not soak.
PearlWipe down with a moist cloth. Do not soak.
RubyUse soapy water and a soft brush. 
Can be boiled and ultrasonic cleaned.
SapphireUse soapy water and a soft brush. 
Can be boiled and ultrasonic cleaned.

What to Avoid When Cleaning Gemstones 

We’ve highlighted a few things to do when cleaning gemstones – but what things should you not be doing? Avoid these don’ts when cleaning gemstones.

  1. Do not expose gemstones to cosmetics. The chemicals in different kinds of cosmetics such as hair products, fragrances, and makeup can react with certain gemstones causing them to look dull and worn.
  1. Store gemstones away from other jewelry. Stones can be scratched and worn if they come into contact with other pieces of jewelry frequently.
  1. Stay away from harsh chemicals. Chemicals like chlorine, bleach, acetone, and ammonia can cause harm and can dull or damage softer types of gemstones.
  1. When removing your jewelry, don’t pull on the gemstone. Movement and tension can wear down the metal attached to your gemstone, causing the stone to become loose and break away from your piece.
  1. Keep gemstones away from direct sunlight and heat. Intense heat can damage some gemstones, and direct sunlight may cause colors to fade.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cleaning Gemstones

We’re sure you still have some questions about cleaning gemstones. Here, we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked.

Can you clean gemstones with vinegar?

For some tougher gemstones like diamond and sapphire, cleaning them with vinegar is perfectly safe. 

Jewelry can be placed in a small container with vinegar and sit for about 10 to 15 minutes, scrubbing with a soft brush after removal, if needed.

However, vinegar can be destructive to other gemstones. 

💡 Caution: Never clean soft stones such as pearl and opal with acidic products, as they could be dulled or damaged. Check your gemstone’s sensitivity with your jeweler before using harsher materials.

Does baking soda damage gemstones?

Like vinegar, baking soda is slightly abrasive and could damage some softer stones and metals. 

If you decide to use baking soda as a cleaning method for your gems, check that it will be safe beforehand.

How do you clean tarnished gemstone jewelry?

There are many methods to clean tarnished gemstone jewelry. While gemstones themselves do not generally tarnish, some of the more porous gems can start to look dull and dirty without occasional cleaning. 

The best method for removing tarnish is one we’ve highlighted before – all you need is a bowl of warm water and a few drops of soap! 

Wiping down your gemstone jewelry with this solution should bring back your gemstone’s shine. 

Many metals used in jewelry can be cleaned using this method, but you may find that using a solution of baking soda and water will help more heavily tarnished metals.

For this approach, you’ll need:

  • A glass bowl or container
  • Aluminum foil
  • A soft or microfiber cloth
  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • Warm to boiling water (depending on your jewelry’s sensitivity)

Line your bowl or container with the aluminum foil, adding your baking soda and water. Place the tarnished jewelry into the solution and let it sit for about 5 minutes.

When finished soaking, rinse your piece with clean water and pat it dry with a soft or microfiber cloth.

💡 Note: Some gemstones may not react well to this solution because it contains abrasives. Be sure to check that the materials are safe for both your jewelry’s gemstone and metals before using this method.

Does hydrogen peroxide harm diamonds?

Hydrogen peroxide is a perfectly safe material to use when cleaning your diamonds. 

In fact, hydrogen peroxide is a commonly used cleaning method by professionals and can be used for many different jewelry pieces and metals, including platinum, gold, silver, titanium, and more! 

Commercially sold hydrogen peroxide, like 3% and 5%, sterilizes and disinfects surfaces from bacteria, spores, and many other microbes that can gather on your gemstone. 

Using a little bit of hydrogen peroxide on a cotton swab to clean the surface of your diamonds is a perfect way to remove any grime and build-up.

Will baking soda damage pearls?

Pearls are delicate gemstones and should never be cleaned or exposed to dish or wash detergents, bleaches, powdered cleansers, baking soda, or ammonia-based cleaners. 

Any sort of acidic cleaner or abrasive materials can damage the delicate surface of a pearl. Instead, use gentle soaps and a microfiber cloth when cleaning pearls.

How do you store gemstone jewelry?

There are several ways to store your gemstone jewelry. One of the most common practices is to store your pieces in a storage or display case, preferably one with dividers.

Plastic bags are another way to keep your jewelry clean while preventing them from coming into contact with other pieces that could cause potential damage.

These methods are simple and relatively cheap ways to store your gemstone jewelry and keep them safe.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Hard

You might think that you need to go to a professional to clean your gemstones, but not always. While we won’t argue a jeweler’s knowledge and skill, there are plenty of easy, at-home methods to keep your gemstones looking their best.

Your gemstones deserve the best, so give them all the love and care they need to thrive!

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