Posts Tagged ‘emerald care’

How to clean your emerald jewelry.

In one of my previous blogs, Durability of Emeralds, I said that quality natural emeralds that are set properly are not all that fragile.  Even so, one of the reasons that emeralds get the reputation of being fragile is how people are told never to clean their jewelry by ultrasonic cleaning or steam tools that are standard equipment in most jewelry stores.  You may be led to believe that these methods of cleaning will change its appearance.  In some cases it will.

Ultrasonic cleaner

Before many emeralds reach the retail market they are subjected to specific chemical treatments.  These treatments are just like makeup.  It is applied to hide blemishes, to enhance natural color, and to give a luster that does not appear naturally.  Again like makeup, the treatment is not permanent and can be washed off or can wear off over time.  Ultrasonic and steam cleaning do a really good job at washing off this treatment but do not harm the stones in any way.  If a stone has been treated, its appearance will change and the change will not be for the better.

Not to keep you in any more suspense, you can never go wrong by cleaning your emerald jewelry with warm soapy water and a soft bristle brush like a child’s toothbrush.  Make sure to rinse the piece in the same temperature water as you used to clean it so you don’t alter any of the inclusions in the stone.  Dry the piece with a soft towel.  This method of cleaning is the most gentle and the best way to clean a treated stone.

Steamer jewelry cleaner

Steamer jewelry cleaner

At Queen Emerald we always purchase our stones from the most trusted resources in the emerald market.  I subject our stones to the harshest cleaning methods before I ever put them in the jewelry case or put them for sale on our website.  Queen Emerald tries its best not to buy treated stones but even if one is bought by mistake (nobody is perfect), the cleaning I give it brings it back to its natural state.

If you did not purchase your emerald from Queen Emerald I will give you the same advice that everyone else will give you about how to clean your emerald.  Do not use ultrasound or steam cleaning techniques, use soapy water.

At Queen Emerald every emerald is hand selected and is guaranteed not to change over time no matter what cleaning method you use.   You can wear your emeralds daily, clean them often without worry, and enjoy them for a lifetime.

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Durability in Emeralds

As she removed the ring from her finger it slipped from her grasp and fell to the center of the glass display case.  Her face changed color and with a timid voice said, “I’m so sorry!”  “Not a problem,” I said, picking up the ring from the display case and showing her and her husband that nothing had happened to the ring or the emerald.  Then she said, “If the emerald didn’t break, maybe it’s not a real one.  They are very fragile.”

The lady thought that natural emeralds are so fragile that they couldn’t resist something like dropping them 12” onto a display case.  While I wouldn’t want to drop them on purpose, they can withstand a lot more abuse than most people think.  As I explained to the lady, there are a lot of factors that decide how fragile a stone will be, particularly after it is set.  Here are a few things I told her, and a few things you may find interesting about emerald durability.

Most of the information about durability in emeralds says how delicate and weak this gem is.  But in reality, emeralds are not all that fragile.  The Mohs scale of mineral hardness identifies how easily a gemstone is scratched.  Diamonds are at the top of the scale at 10.  After them come rubies and sapphires at 9, topaz at 8 and emeralds are from 7.5 to 8.  They are in the same range as aquamarines, most quartz and tourmalines, and above tanzanite (6.5 – 7), turquoise (5 – 6), onyx (6.5 – 7), zircon (6.5 – 7.5), opal (5.5 – 6.5) and pearls (2.5 -4.5).

Even though emeralds are relatively hard stones, the presence of fractures and inclusions that give each stone its personality and unique beauty can also affect their toughness. The liquids, gases and crystals inside these gems create challenges to those who work with the stones.  The gem cutter must avoid touching any inclusions with his cutting disk or he may break the stone.  The setter, the person in charge of putting the stone into a piece of jewelry, can break a stone  just by pushing the stone into the setting if there are fissures near a corner of the stone.

All this talk about breaking stones may sound like a bad thing, but the good news is that if you see an emerald that has inclusions only in its center far from any surface or corner, durability of the gem will not be a problem.  A good cutter will isolate the inclusions in the center of the stone and the setter will design a setting that will protect the stone where it is most likely to be bumped by the wearer under normal circumstances.  Yes, emeralds can be fragile but the cutter and setter have already taken most of the risks, much more than the wearer of a well designed piece of jewelry will ever have.

Here are some things I always tell my customers who are still concerned about an emerald’s durability.  You do have a choice where to wear your emerald.  Stones worn as pendants, earrings, or brooches are far less likely to be bumped or otherwise abused than stones set in rings and bracelets.  But more important than anything else is the setting.

Emerald in a bezel setting

A bezel setting goes all the way around the stone, covering its whole edge.  A V-Prong setting for cuts with corners, e.g. emerald cuts and pear shapes, is also a great option.  It encloses the most fragile parts, the corners, with metal. Any of these two give very good protection to any gem and will be the perfect choice for rings that you will like to wear every day.

V-Prong Setting

Because a setting is so important to the protection of an emerald, some jewelers don’t feel comfortable working with them.  They will have to be more careful when they work with these gems than when working with diamonds.  Just to make a small repair like resizing a ring or replacing a prong, they will have to take the emerald out of the setting, make the repair, and then put the gem back in the setting. It is a risk that some jewelers prefer not to take.

We at Queen Emerald always try to build all our jewelry pieces with the assumption that you will want to wear them every day and all the time.  That is why every single piece is made by hand, every single setting is made for an individual stone, and all the prongs are bigger and wider than traditional prongs.

The best advice I can give is to enjoy your emeralds.  If you have one of our pieces already you can wear it with confidence every day.  It was made with just for that purpose.  Just remember, ANYTHING can be broken and because you are wearing a unique and exclusive jewelry piece it needs to be treated with a little care.