Jewelry cleaning – pt 2

Hi again!  I didn’t want to overwhelm you with information about cleaning your jewelry, so I thought it best to split up the post.

As you can see in the before and after photos in the featured image and just below this paragraph, dirt, soap, lotion and other crud can build up under the setting (known as the pavilion, whose job is to reflect the light that enters the gem), resulting in a dull stone.  Look at the difference a good cleaning will do!

before-after-ring-side-1before-after-side-2

Cleaning your gemstone jewelry by mechanical means (ultrasound, boiling, and steam) should really be left to the professionals, who understand the structure of your gemstone and know how the stone reacts to light, heat, and acids.  You see, the main risk factor isn’t from the equipment; it comes from characteristics within the gemstones.  Inclusions (tiny cracks) and structural stresses that are only visible to the professional using the proper equipment, and any treatment the gemstone has received (heat, color enhancing, oils) can end in poor or tragic results…case in point, the story I told at the beginning of the previous post.

Here’s the lowdown on mechanical methods for the home user:

Ultrasonic cleaners:

The stainless-steel tank requires a special liquid that uses microscopic frequency waves in the millions that bounce against the hardest item inside.  That’s a lot of energy focused on your gemstone!  If there happens to be a small crack or internal stress that you don’t know about, the energy that’s focused on the stone can exacerbate the weakness and destroy the stone.

Never…ever…EVER place opals, pearls, coral, turquoise, malachite or amber in an ultrasonic cleaner.  Emeralds, Sapphires, and Rubies may be oiled to heighten its color and translucency which the solution can remove, leaving a sad stone in need of an oil treatment.

Steam:

Not typically used by the home consumer.  The steam is used to melt and blow away grease and oils.  Although it’s highly efficient, the danger here is that the temperature of the gem is risen quickly and returned to its normal temperature just as fast.

Boiling:

Simple and quick, it has a lot of risks.  You use the same water and non-detergent soap solution mentioned earlier, but you place the gemstones in the pot with the solution, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat, let the water cool, remove the gemstones, clean with a soft brush, rinse and dry.

It comes to this:

You take a risk when you expose your gemstone to high temperatures.  Some gemstones have inclusions that are a different material (liquid, gas or solid) and if the heating coefficient varies, it can destroy the stone.  Some, like the garnets discussed last month are temperature sensitive.  Even a diamond isn’t impervious.

Professional cleaning is optimal, but don’t be afraid to ask questions about the procedures they use and your gemstones.  If you’re dissatisfied with the answer, move on to someone else.  Arming yourself with a bit of knowledge about your gems and the best care for them will be instrumental in making the best choice.

Tuesday, the post will be about this month’s birthstone, the fabulous Amethyst.  I didn’t forget about you, my February babies!

That’s all for now!  Please know that my joy is knowing that you get to enjoy your piece for many years to come.  I hope this post gives you the information you need to clean your jewelry properly.

Cheers!

Kaduka

References for this post are available upon request.

Images courtesy of Diamonds-usa.com

 

 

 

Advertisements

Some basics about Gemstones

Hello and Happy 2017 from your friends at Kaduka!  My apologies for being away so long and not keeping up with all the wonderful Birthstones, but I’m back and will do my utmost to keep up with this blog!

As I was reviewing my blog from last year, I was initially tempted to spread out January’s re-post over the entire month (thanks for the suggestion, Nancy D!), but as I was going over it, the thought occurred that it may be best to start off with information on 3 measurements of gemstone durability you may find useful; hardness, toughness and stability.  The information will (hopefully) tell you how to best care for your pieces that comprise your collection of lovely jewelry and I promise to do my best to include this information as I discuss the gemstones for each month moving forward!

First, let’s talk about the hardness of gems.  Based on the Mohs scale (developed in 1812 by German mineralogist Friedrich Mohs who tested 10 readily available materials), gemstones and minerals have a hardness (scratch resistance) rating that ranges from 1-10.  I believe that I can safely say that we’ve all heard that Diamonds (10 on the Mohs scale) are the hardest.   However, the “hardness” of the Diamond isn’t equal to its “toughness”.  This is because of its perfect “cleavage” which can cause it to break cleanly apart across certain planes (think how easily wood is split across its grain).

A “tough” gem is one that can withstand getting smacked around and still come up looking good (kind of like James Bond).  One such gem is Nephrite Jade, whose interlocking crystal structure makes it a good gem for everyday wear, even though it’s 6-6.5 on the Mohs scale.  Nephrite jade, in addition to quartz (and its varieties) Sapphire, Ruby and Jasper have no cleavage.

Just an FYI…I don’t want to cause any upset with the information about cleavage.  The highest concern about it is when the Gem is cut, polished and set.  Gem cutters are highly knowledgeable when it comes to cutting gems with cleavage and jewelers are experts in mounting your gem in a protective setting.

Finally, there’s the stability of Gemstones, which means that alterations to them can occur when they are exposed to various elements such as chemicals, heat, and light.  Gemstones such as Aquamarine (March’s birthstone) and Peridot (August’s birthstone) shouldn’t be exposed to acid.  Other stones, such as yellow-brown topaz can fade when it’s exposed to direct light for lengthy periods.  Opals (October’s birthstone) have high water content so they can crack from dehydration.

I didn’t want to overwhelm you with lots of information, so I hope the information I provided will give you an insight to the care of your jewelry.  If you would like a list of my references, please don’t hesitate to make a request!

Thanks for reading this, and look for my upcoming installment next week!

Cheers!

Kaduka

Image from Manikanta Impex