Gemstone Care Guide

Consult our gemstone care guide to learn the best cleaning methods for many popular gems. Most will respond well to warm water, mild detergent, and a soft brush at home. However, some gems do have sensitivities you should be aware of, particularly if you decide to have them cleaned mechanically, whether at home or professionally.

Kunzite is a variety of spodumene that ranges in color from pink to lavender and can lose its color if exposed to sunlight for even a few hours. “New Pendant Kunzite” by topzhang is licensed under CC By 2.0
Gemstone Cleaning Technique Comment
Amber Damp cloth & dry. Warm water-detergent is also effective. Amber is an organic gem, sort of a fossilized and hardened form of resin from ancient pine trees.
Amethyst Warm water-detergent-soft brush Most amethyst is heat-treated to bring out best color, but it can crack as well as fade if exposed to high temperatures.
Aquamarine Warm water-detergent-soft brush This blue beryl is also heat-treated to bring out its blue color. Heat can still cause color fading.
Carnelian Moist cloth. Rub with dry cloth briskly. It’s a tough variety of the quartz group. Wax won’t adhere to it, so it was famous as a seal material.
Citrine Warm water-detergent-soft brush A heat-treated quartz, it will fade when exposed to heat.
Coral Damp cloth & dry. Another organic gem which comes from the exudations of tiny marine animals. Extremely sensitive to flame, heat.
Diamond Ammonia based cleaner. Warm water-(grease cutting) detergent-soft brush. Mechanical cleaning systems. Diamonds can take heat well, but mechanical systems could pose danger if stone is not examined well beforehand. Removing any grease the key to diamond brilliance.
Emerald Warm water-detergent-soft brush Most emeralds are routinely bathed warm oil after fashioning to improve color… and sometimes a dye is added. Mechanical systems could boil out the oil. Inclusions in emerald often weaken the stone, and mechanical systems have potential to cause breakage.
Garnet Warm water-detergent-soft brush Relatively hard and tough, garnets are heat sensitive.
Helidor Warm water-detergent-soft brush These yellow beryl gems tend to be flawless, reasonably hardy and tough. Temperature extremes should be avoided, though.
Ivory Wipe clean with damp cloth & dry. Also, warm water-detergent-soft brush. Another organic gem consisting of calcium phosphate. It’s sometimes dyed so harsh chemical cleaning could impair its appearance.
Jade Warm water-detergent-soft brush Both jadeite and nephrite are tough with little to worry about. Takes a high lustrous polish which takes professional equipment if surface needs re-polishing.
Kunzite Warm water-detergent-soft brush Has distinct cleavage plane which opens with little impact. Sunlight causes its lavender color to fade; this is definitely a “night stone.”
Lapis Warm water-detergent-soft brush Material is porous, varies greatly, is often dyed to improve color.
Malachite Cool water-detergent-soft brush. Polishes bright but wear can cause finish to dull; rub briskly with wood to help restore finish. Sensitive to acid, ammonia, heat and hot water.
Opal Warm water-detergent-soft brush Very sensitive to pressure and thermal shock (hot or cold) which causes crazing (surface cracking). Soft and fragile.
Pearl Wipe with damp, soft cloth. Stains should be removed with mild soapy solution on rag – don’t dip it into liquid. Dry thoroughly. Blow out drill holes carefully; moisture there often causes discoloration. Special care is required to keep pearls looking their best. (See more complete discussion later in this chapter.)
Peridot Warm water-detergent-soft brush One of the softer gem materials, it is attacked by acids (it etches) and heat may cause damage. Uses carefully because peridot is soft and surface scratches diminish finish.


Gemstone Cleaning Technique Comment
Ruby Warm water-detergent-soft brush More and more rubies are being oiled and mechanical cleaning could remove this oil. High heat, though, could cause damage because of inclusions and other imbedded crystal materials.
Sapphire Warm water-detergent-soft brush It’s the same material (corundum) as ruby so same treatment applies: oil may be added for color, and inclusions may weaken normally tough structure.
Spinel Warm water-detergent-soft brush Hard and durable, spinels tend to be flawless in gem grades. Should give little trouble, and hold its beauty.
Tanzanite Warm water-detergent-soft brush Blue color is created by heat treatment, but tanzanite is fragile, relatively soft, and sensitive to heat, vibrations.
Turquoise Wipe with damp cloth; wipe dry immediately. Turquoise is a porous material so avoid soap, detergents, cleaning solutions. They tend to penetrate the material’s pores, turning turquoise green and/or unattractive off-color blue.
Topaz Warm water-detergent-soft brush Easy cleavage makes mechanical cleaning relatively dangerous, both for vibrations or heating. Stone may have undue pressure points caused by setting prongs.
Tourmaline Warm water-detergent-soft brush Reasonable hard gem but tends to be brittle. Pink variety often flawed, could be structurally weak and thus vulnerable to vibration damage. Moderately sensitive to heat. Bi-colored crystal sometimes split at color junctures.
Zircon Warm water-detergent-soft brush Prone to impurities, it can be affected by heat extremes, although fine blue and white zircon is heat treated.

Gemstone Care Series

How To Clean Your Gemstone Jewelry

Mechanical Gemstone Cleaning

Gemstone Care Guide

Care Guide For Pearls and Opals