How To Clean Gemstone Jewelry

We try hard to keep our gemstones looking as flawlessly gorgeous as the day we bought them. However, dirt, dust, and other particulates can dull the shine of your jewelry as time goes on. So how do you properly clean gemstone jewelry and restore the luster to your favorite pieces? Read on to find out.

Know Your Gemstones

It's easy to believe that one gem's resistance to certain kinds of exposure goes for all gems in your collection. Hardness is the measure of a gem's ability to resist scratching, and nothing more than that. But, a high hardness does not mean that a gem will survive anything that you do to it. Gems can possess inclusions, which are materials that become trapped inside a gem during its natural formation. These inclusions may compromise the physical structure of a gem such that it may fracture if struck in a certain spot or if exposed to extreme temperatures.

Some gems are also given treatments to enhance their appearance. However, these treatments can have negative reactions to certain cleaners. For example, some emeralds have any internal fractures filled in with a special filler or oil to improve their clarity. This oil can damage the emerald if exposed to heat. It's important to know how your gem is treated in order to know how to clean it without damaging it. 

A professional gemologist can tell you the exact qualities of your gemstones. They can also identify any quirks or inclusions, which are substances that become trapped in gemstones during their natural formation. The International Gem Society provides a list of gemological laboratories around the world that can identify your gemstones.

Here are the best ways to clean your gemstones.


A solution of soap and water is the simplest and best way to clean diamond jewelry. Soak your jewelry in this solution for about ten minutes, then remove and gently brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush before letting the jewelry dry on a soft cloth. If your diamond is set in gold, you can add ammonia to the mixture. But be wary. Prolonged use of ammonia can potentially warp and discolor the metal of your gem's setting, seep into any fractures to turn your diamond cloudy, or simply wear down your gem entirely. If your diamond is set in silver, skip the ammonia entirely and be extra gentle with the brush.

Sapphires and Rubies

Both of these gems belong to the corundum family of jewels, and they are similar enough that they can be cleaned the same way. Most rubies and sapphires can be cleaned in a solution of soapy water. However, if your precious corundum stone has any fractures that have been filled, it's best to clean them with a damp cloth. Untreated or heat-treated stones can be professionally cleaned using steam or an ultrasonic cleaner.


Most emeralds are formed with cavities and fractures that have to be filled, so using steam or ultrasonic cleaning could harm the stone. Instead, the best way to clean an emerald is to use a microfiber cloth to remove any dust or loose dirt, then soak the gem in soapy water while rubbing it gently. After this, use plain warm water for a rinse, and dry it with a clean dry cloth. 


This gem can be cleaned with soap and water. However, it's important to ensure that the temperature of the water isn't too warm or too cold, as either extreme could crack the stone. When choosing a soap, you should use one that is free of bleach or harsh detergents. And finally, use a plastic container for the soapy solution, as knocking the stone against metal or glass could chip it. 

Opals and Pearls

These gems are incredibly sensitive, so great care must be taken in cleaning them. Mechanical methods such as steam cleaning and ultrasonic cleaning will destroy any jewelry made with these gems. The best way to clean jewelry made with opals and pearls is to carefully wipe them down with a thin rag soaked in a water and soap solution. Use a mild soap only, and be sure that the water is close to room temperature as these gems are sensitive to changes in temperature. Dry your opal or pearl piece with a gentle cloth, blowing into any knots or drill holes to remove excess moisture. Additionally, try to avoid wearing your pearls directly against your skin, as the acidity in perspiration can damage the gems. If you have to wear them against your skin, gently wipe them with a soft clean cloth after taking them off. 

Keep cleaning methods simple, be gentle with your gems, and try to avoid any harsh chemicals or commercial cleaners. Any damage done to your gems could be irreversible, so it's best to take the proper precautions. If necessary, seek a professional opinion on how to properly clean your gemstone jewelry. Keeping your jewelry clean is one of the keys to giving it a long life span for you to enjoy.