Caring for and Cleaning Emerald JewelryJuly 21, 2022 – Posted in: Jewelry Blog
Here’s our guide that will explain everything you need to know about caring for and cleaning emerald jewelry. We’ll also discuss the best practices and answer some frequently asked questions.
Emeralds are among the most popular gemstones for jewelry. Their vibrant color symbolizes spring, hope, romance, and love. Emeralds can look exquisite for a long time, but only if you take proper care of them.
How to Clean Emerald Jewelry (Step by Step)
If you want to keep your emerald jewelry in excellent condition and extend its lifespan, it’s of utmost importance to clean it regularly. Fortunately, the process isn’t complicated and lengthy, but it requires attention to detail because some common mistakes could lead to accidental damage to the stone.
Here are the steps you should follow for cleaning emerald jewelry.
- Wipe the Jewelry With a Soft Micro-Fiber Cloth. No matter how well you take care of your emerald jewelry, it’s bound to collect dirt, especially in hard-to-access spots. By gently wiping the jewelry with a soft micro-fiber cloth, you’ll make the rest of the process much easier.
- Fill a Bowl With Water and Soap. Fill a bowl with room-temperature or lukewarm water. (Extremely hot or cold temperatures can damage emeralds.) Put a few drops of soft soap in the water, place the jewelry in the bowl, and take it out after one minute. Don’t let the jewelry sit any longer because it can get damaged.
- Use a Soft Toothbrush to Clean the Jewelry. Grab a very soft-bristle toothbrush or a jewelry brush and clean the jewelry. Don’t forget about the hard-to-access areas.
- Rinse the Soap Solution. The next step is rinsing out the soap solution. Place your emerald jewelry under room temperature running water to remove the soap residue. Be careful not to drop your jewelry into the sink, especially if you’re cleaning earrings or small necklaces. As a precaution, it’s best to use a sink stopper while rinsing out the jewelry.
- Air-Dry or Use a Soft Micro-Fiber Cloth. The final step is drying your jewelry. You can let it air-dry or use a soft micro-fiber cloth to remove the water and polish the stones.
How to Clean Emerald Rings (Step by Step)
Emeralds are a popular choice for rings. Whether they are featured as center stones or accents, they require special care if you want them to look perfect. Here’s how to clean emerald rings.
- Wipe with a Soft Micro-Fiber Cloth. Before actually washing your emerald ring, it’s important to remove the accumulated oil and dirt. This will make the following steps much easier.
- Fill a Cup With Water and Soap. Fill a clean cup with lukewarm or room-temperature water. Extreme temperatures can damage emeralds, so be sure to keep this in mind. Sprinkle the water with a few drops of soft soap and submerge the emerald ring for one minute.
- Clean the Ring With a Soft Toothbrush. Take a soft-bristled toothbrush or a jewelry brush and clean the ring thoroughly, paying special attention to the hard-to-reach areas. Be careful not to press the brush too hard to avoid loosening or damaging the stones.
- Rinse Away the Soft Soap. Once you’ve cleaned the ring, it’s time to rinse out the soap solution. Place the ring under running water and use your fingers to gently remove soap residue. Since rings can easily slip out of your hand while you’re rinsing them, using sink stoppers is a good idea.
- Dry the Ring. The final step of the cleaning process is drying your emerald ring. Here, you have two options: let it air-dry or use a soft micro-fiber cloth to dry and polish your ring.
How to Care for Emerald Jewelry
While emeralds are durable, they aren’t as tough as diamonds. Most emeralds have inclusions and fractures visible to the naked eye, which can worsen if you don’t take proper care of them.
If you want to wear your emerald jewelry for a long time, the golden rule is to not wear it all the time. For example, emerald rings can get damaged easily while you’re gardening, washing dishes, using bleach, or swimming. You should avoid exposing your emerald jewelry to water whenever you can, including taking showers and washing your hands. While this may seem too much, it’s the best way to extend the stone’s lifespan.
Most emeralds are treated with oil that fills fissures and enhances their durability. Exposure to extremely high or low temperatures can affect this oil treatment and cause cracks in the stone. If you want to protect your emeralds, avoid wearing them when it’s too hot or cold.
Another important thing to mention is storing emeralds. Since emeralds are not as tough as diamonds, sapphires, or rubies, they can get damaged by such stones. Therefore, you should avoid keeping emeralds with other jewelry. Instead, use a soft cloth or a pouch to protect emerald jewelry.
How to Care for Emerald Accents in Ring
Emerald accents are often used in rings to emphasize the center stone’s beauty and create a breathtaking contrast. Unfortunately, emerald accents are prone to falling out, regardless of the ring’s quality and craftsmanship. Hence, it’s crucial to inspect your emerald accents regularly.
If you often wear your emerald ring, inspect it every time you take it off. This will help you catch potentially loose accents in time and prevent losing them. Touch each emerald accent gently to see if it’s secure, and then gently shake the ring near your ear to listen out for any slight rattling sound. If you spot a loose emerald, do not put the ring back on your finger. Put the ring straight into its ring box and bring it straight away to a jeweler who will be able to fix the stone.
It’s also vital to point out that emerald accents require special care because of their fragility and presence of inclusions and fractures. Even if your ring has small emerald accents, you need to take care of it as if it features emeralds only. This means you shouldn’t use aggressive cleaning products, harsh brushes, hot or cold water, or ultrasonic and steam cleaners.
Can You Use Soap to Clean Emeralds?
Yes, you can use soft soap when cleaning emeralds, but make sure that you first dilute it with a lot of water.
As mentioned below, most emeralds are treated with oil and resin to fill surface-reaching fractures and extend the lifespan of the stones. Using harsh soaps and detergents can dilute or remove the oil, making the stones more prone to damage. That’s why aggressive cleaning products should never be used for emeralds.
Likewise, you shouldn’t soak your emerald jewelry in solvents like alcohol or paint thinner. Even if a product is labeled as a “jewelry cleaner,” it’s probably not suitable for emeralds because it can strip off the oil and resin.
Using soft, mild soap is the best option for cleaning emeralds. However, this doesn’t mean soft soap is perfectly safe. You should always mix the soap with room-temperature or lukewarm water. A few small drops of soap are more than enough for a regular-sized cup of water.
Emerald Hardness. Can Emeralds Break Easily?
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness represents a qualitative ordinal scale used for grading minerals. The scale ranges from one to 10, with one being the lowest grade. Every mineral’s hardness is measured based on its scratch resistance, i.e., the ability to scratch softer minerals. It’s important to emphasize that even though the scale ranges from one to 10, the steps aren’t evenly spaced. For example, diamonds are the hardest material and are at the top of the scale. The next in line are gems from the corundum family, and although their grade differs from diamonds in only one number, diamonds are many times harder.
Emeralds are 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. This means they have fair to good toughness but are still less resistant than rubies or sapphires, which belong to the corundum family.
The high grade proves emeralds can come into contact with most things and remain unscratched.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean emeralds can’t break. These gemstones are special due to their highly-included nature, which has nothing to do with their hardness. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) classifies gems into Type I, Type II, or Type III, depending on their inclusions. Emeralds belong to Type III. These gemstones grow with many inclusions and internal cracks that can affect their durability and appearance, making them more fragile and soft. For this reason, most emeralds are treated with oil that can fill up the inclusions and extend the stone’s lifespan.
Do Emeralds Scratch Easily?
Since emeralds are 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, they are pretty tough and don’t scratch easily.
That being said, you will still want to be very careful never to scratch an emerald. The scratch may not hurt the emerald, but the impact and pressure that is causing the scratch will be of heightened danger to the safety of the emerald.
Additionally, any mineral of the same or higher hardness rank can damage your emeralds. If you’re wearing jewelry pieces featuring diamonds, rubies, or sapphires, you need to ensure that they don’t scratch the emerald jewelry. Moreover, avoid storing such jewelry in one box to prevent scratches.
Important Note: Emeralds are notorious for their inclusions. If the inclusion sits near or on the stone’s surface, even a minor scratch can expand them and end up breaking the stone.
Can You Use Hot Water or a Steamer to Clean Emeralds?
You should never use hot water to clean emeralds. The heat can dry out fracture fillings and dilute or remove the oil from the gem’s surface. This could make the emerald more prone to damage and affect its spark and color. The same goes for extremely cold water.
When cleaning emeralds, ensure the water is lukewarm or at room temperature. Remember not to let the emeralds soak in the water for too long, as this could also affect their appearance and structure.
Will Chemicals Ruin Emerald Jewelry?
Yes, chemicals will ruin emerald jewelry. Aggressive cleaning products can not only affect the appearance of the emeralds, but they can also make the stones more brittle and prone to breakage.
Emeralds, especially fine emeralds, are very sensitive.
Most emeralds have tiny fissures near or on the surface. Jewelers cover these fissures with oil to improve the appearance of the emeralds and seal the most vulnerable spots. Using chemicals can damage and destroy the oil, leaving the fissures exposed. Plus, stripping off the oil affects the clarity and color depth of the stones.
Oil Treated Emeralds
Almost all retail-grade emeralds have a lot of inclusions, fissures, and low saturation and therefore need to be oiled. Oil treatments reduce the visibility of the inclusions and enhance the stone’s appearance.
Unfortunately, oil treatments aren’t permanent. Over time, the oil can wear off, especially if you often wear your emerald jewelry. This makes the emeralds much more vulnerable to damage and breakage. If you want to ensure your emeralds are in excellent condition, getting them re-oiled at least once every three to four years is vital.
Since this process is complicated and requires expertise and special equipment, you should always take the emeralds to a professional. If the re-oiling process isn’t conducted carefully, the stones can get damaged or broken. Hence, it’s vital to find a reputable and experienced professional who’ll take excellent care of the gems.
You can always go online and read reviews about previous experiences with different jewelers. This can help you decide whether a particular jeweler is the right choice. Moreover, if you know someone with emerald jewelry, don’t hesitate to ask them where they get the stones re-oiled. Such recommendations are valuable and can prevent you from taking your precious jewelry to the wrong place.
Any reputable jeweler knows that emeralds can be quite fragile and knows how to take proper care of them. Besides re-oiling, the jeweler can inspect the stones, identify loose ones, and fix them in no time.
Important Note: High-quality and expensive emeralds should never be oiled without consultation from an expert jeweler. Emeralds that are of gem-quality appearance without the assistance of an oil treatment are the most desirable types of emeralds and are worth a lot of money. Adding any oil to these emeralds will dramatically impact their worth. Learn more.
Shop our Collection of Emerald Jewelry
Love emeralds? Feel free to browse our collection of emerald jewelry and May Birthstone Jewelry. If you have any questions, please fill out the contact form below.
Woodhaven Ring. Circa 1940 (Vintage, Retro Era)$9,500
Elmfield ring. Circa 1900$4,000
Barden Green Band. 2.5mm$2,500
Calverley Ring. Circa 1880 (Antique, Victorian Era)RESERVED
Brentford Ring. Circa 1905 (Antique, Edwardian Era)$8,000
Click here to view our rare collection of Emerald Engagement Rings.
Talk to an Emerald Expert
Emeralds have been popular for thousands of years. Since they symbolize loyalty, new beginnings, security, and peace, they are not only eye-catching but also a perfect gift for a loved one. Whether you need help finding emerald jewelry or want to know more about taking care of it, feel free to talk to an emerald expert from our team.
We have years of experience working with these breathtaking gems and will be happy to answer your questions and help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
Contact us if you wish to visit our 5th Avenue showroom. If you’re not in New York, you’ll be happy to know you can schedule a video appointment.