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What Gemstones to Avoid Steaming or Harsh Chemicals

What Gemstones to Avoid Steaming or Harsh Chemicals

Fine jewelry is a beloved treasure that holds a special place in our hearts. Whether it's an engagement ring, a family heirloom, or a well-deserved self-indulgence, the gemstones that adorn these pieces are often just as precious as the memories they represent. However, to keep these gems gleaming and sparkling for generations, it's crucial to know how to care for them properly.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining the brilliance of gemstones is understanding which ones can withstand various cleaning methods. Some gems can endure exposure to steam and harsh chemicals, while others are more delicate and require gentler care. Mulloys Fine Jewelry has been in the business of helping customers find, care for, and enjoy their jewelry for years. In this blog, we'll explore the gemstones that should be avoided when using steam or harsh chemicals in your cleaning routine.

Gemstones to Avoid Steaming

Steam cleaning is a popular method for cleaning jewelry, as it effectively removes dirt and grime without causing any physical damage. However, not all gemstones can withstand the high heat and pressure generated by steam cleaners. The following gemstones are best left out of the steam cleaning process:

1. Opals

Opals are stunning gemstones known for their play of colors and iridescence. However, they are porous and can absorb water, which makes them sensitive to sudden temperature changes. The heat and moisture from a steam cleaner can cause opals to crack or lose their vibrant colors. Instead, clean opals with a soft, damp cloth and mild soap.

2. Pearls

Pearls, whether natural or cultured, are exceptionally delicate and sensitive to heat. Steam cleaning can damage their lustrous surface and cause them to lose their shine. To clean pearls, simply wipe them with a soft cloth after wearing to remove oils and perspiration.

3. Turquoise

Turquoise is a beautiful blue-green gemstone that can easily be damaged by steam cleaning. The heat can alter the color and stability of turquoise, leading to discoloration and a weakened structure. Clean turquoise with a dry, soft cloth and avoid exposing it to excessive moisture.

4. Coral

Coral is an organic gemstone, and as such, it is particularly vulnerable to high temperatures. Steam cleaning can lead to the deterioration of the coral's surface and color. Gently clean coral jewelry with a soft, damp cloth to maintain its natural beauty.

5. Amber

Amber is another organic gemstone that can be harmed by steam cleaning. The heat and moisture may cause amber to become brittle and lose its shine. To clean amber, use a soft, dry cloth and avoid exposing it to harsh chemicals.

Gemstones to Avoid Harsh Chemicals

While steam cleaning can be harsh on some gemstones due to the high heat and pressure, certain gemstones are sensitive to chemicals. Harsh chemicals, like bleach and other household cleaning agents, can cause permanent damage to these gemstones. Here are the gemstones you should avoid exposing to harsh chemicals:

1. Emeralds

Emeralds are known for their vibrant green color, but they are also quite fragile. Harsh chemicals can strip them of their natural oils and lead to dullness and cracks. To clean emeralds, use a gentle, non-abrasive jewelry cleaner or warm, soapy water with a soft brush.

2. Tanzanite

Tanzanite is a relatively rare and exquisite gemstone, but it is not resistant to strong chemicals. These chemicals can cause tanzanite to lose its brilliance and develop surface damage. Use a mild soap and warm water for cleaning tanzanite jewelry.

3. Coral (Again)

Coral is not only sensitive to heat but also to chemicals. Harsh cleaning agents can harm the surface and structure of coral. Stick to a mild soap and water for cleaning coral.

4. Ammolite

Ammolite is a unique gemstone formed from the fossilized shells of ammonites. It has a stunning display of colors, but it's easily affected by chemicals. These can dull the colors and affect the gem's overall quality. To clean ammolite, use a soft, damp cloth with mild soap.

5. Lapis Lazuli

Lapis lazuli is a deep blue stone that has been prized for its beauty for centuries. However, it's vulnerable to chemical damage, which can affect its color and finish. Clean lapis lazuli with a soft, damp cloth and mild soap, and avoid harsh cleaning agents.

General Care Tips

To ensure the longevity of your jewelry and its gemstones, here are some general care tips to keep in mind:

  1. Regular Cleaning: Regardless of the gemstone, regular cleaning with a soft, damp cloth can help prevent the buildup of dirt, oils, and sweat.
  2. Professional Inspection: Periodically have your jewelry inspected by a professional jeweler to check for loose stones or any damage that may not be immediately apparent.
  3. Proper Storage: Store your jewelry in a clean, dry place to prevent exposure to chemicals, heat, or moisture. Use jewelry boxes or pouches to prevent scratches and tangles.
  4. Avoid Impact: Avoid wearing delicate jewelry during physical activities to prevent chipping or breaking of gemstones.
  5. Avoid Sunlight: Some gemstones, such as amethyst and kunzite, can fade in direct sunlight, so store them in a dark place when not in use.


The care and maintenance of your fine jewelry is a crucial part of preserving its beauty and value. Understanding which gemstones are sensitive to steam cleaning or harsh chemicals is essential for preventing unnecessary damage. By following these guidelines and using gentle cleaning methods, you can ensure that your jewelry and its gemstones remain stunning for generations to come. If you have any doubts about how to clean a particular gemstone, it's always wise to consult with a professional jeweler for expert advice.


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