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Gemstones Care & Handling

How to care gems

Follow these simple rules to ensure that your gems last for generations looking just as beautiful as when you acquired them.

Cleaning is very important to keep your gems sparkling and attractive. Especially on rings, dust and soap can collect behind the stone, making it look dull. This is true particularly if you wear your jewelry every day.

It is very easy to clean transparent crystalline gemstones. Simply soak them in water with a drop of gentle soap. If dirt is stubborn, use a soft toothbrush to scrub behind the stone.

Even the hardest gemstone can be vulnerable to breakage if it has inclusions (anything in the gem that obstructs the passage of light, e.g. minerals) which weaken the structure of the crystal. Avoid wearing a ring or other jewelry set with a softer gem variety, or with an included stone, when you are exercising or liable to knock it against something hard.

Rubies and sapphires are very tough gems, but even they can chip if knocked sharply against a hard surface.

Make sure that you store each piece of gemstone jewellery separately to avoid softer stones being scratched by harder ones. Remember that almost every gemstone will be harder than the metal it is set in, so your gems can scratch the finish of your gold, silver or platinum if you jumble your jewellery all together in a box or drawer.ery cautious about using an ultrasonic cleaner on your gems. You can use one to clean rubies and sapphires, but many other gems may suffer, so don’t take the risk. You can clean rubies and sapphires, and any other single crystal gems, with a drop of ammonia in water. This will remove any film of dust or grease and add extra sparkle.

Guide to the Care and Cleaning of Rubies and Sapphires Hardness and resistance to breakage

The Mohs scale is used to measure the hardness of minerals based on the ease with which one mineral can scratch another. The scale runs from 0 to 10, but is deceptive. Diamonds, at 10 on the scale are many, many times harder than corundum (of which both sapphires and rubies are varieties) which scores 9.

Corundum is relatively hard, at 9 on the Mohs scale, and has no cleavage, which means there is no tendency to break when knocked sharply. This means that sapphires and rubies are excellent gems to choose for rings which may be worn every day and suffer regular knocks. All in all, rubies and sapphires are an excellent choice for jewellery stones.


Stability

Sapphires and rubies are resistant to the effects of heat, light and common chemicals. However, boric acid powder, commonly used as an antiseptic or insecticide, will etch the surface, even of untreated stones. If your gemstone is fracture-filled, cavity-filled or dyed, it may be damaged even by very mild acids like lemon juice.

Cleaning

The safest way is with warm water and mild soap. It is generally safe to use ultrasonic and steam cleaners with untreated, heat-treated and lattice-diffusion-treated stones. If your gemstone is fracture-filled, cavity-filled or dyed, it is safest to clean it with a damp cloth only.

Treatment and Durability

Both untreated and heat-treated sapphire and ruby are very durable.

Lattice-diffusion-treatment can affect stones differently. The colour treatment may have penetrated the entire stone in some cases, whereas in others the colour penetration is very shallow.Surface damage or re-cutting can remove the colour from stones with only shallow colour penetration.

Fracture-filled stones contain fractures which reach the surface of the gem and are filled mainly with high-lead-content-glass. Fracture filled rubies can be found in large numbers in the market and need much more care than untreated, heat-treated or lattice-diffusion-treated rubies. The glass filler can be damaged by contact with a variety of chemicals. Even something as mild as lemon juice can harm high-lead-content-glass.

It is more common for rubies to be filled with high-lead-content-glass than it is for sapphires. Nevertheless, in some cases, a sapphire can have an extensive amount of high-lead-content-glass filler. If a sapphire has been treated in this way, it requires much more care than untreated, heat-treated or lattice-diffusion-treated sapphires.