Caring for gems is easier than ever with Fred Ward’s book. Today everyone has some jewelry, inherited or purchased. And most people want to know what, if anything, can be done to keep their possessions safe and beautiful. Fortunately, you can use inexpensive procedures, most of which you can do at home.
Our book on gem care is unique. No other separate book covers the topic or systematically details what to do to clean and protect more than sixty gems commonly used in jewelry.
Among the many things you will learn in this book are the hardness of all your gems and the precious metals that hold them. Every gem has a Mohs hardness rating, from 1 to 10. Each higher numbered gem can scratch every gem lower on the scale. Almost every gemstone you own is harder than gold, silver, or platinum. So you should store jewelry separately to prevent the gems in one setting from scratching the metal in another or scratching softer gems with lower Mohs ratings. Some gems, such as pearls, require special care. Softer than most other gems, pearls are absorbent and adversely affected by acids. Fred Ward’s book describes how to best care for pearls, when to restring, and which everyday chemicals to avoid.
You will probably be pleased to learn that most of your gems and jewelry will benefit from simply washing them with warm water and a plain bar soap. Gems look dull when they are dirty. Worn as they are in city air and subjected to all the materials we come in contact with daily, of course they collect particles of foreign matter. You will learn in our book which gems absorb water and should not be washed. Nephrite for example, like the fine old Chinese carving to the right, is unharmed by scrubbing, something you should never do with pearls, coral, ivory, or amber.
It is the gems that need more care than a wash that concern most owners. Some gems are almost indestructible and are unaffected by practically any chemical cleaner you can imagine. However, a number of materials used as gems can be dissolved, stained, or spotted by improper cleaning. Our book covers each gem or gem family separately, telling you exactly what is safe.
There is a common misconception that very hard gemstones will not break, leading some owners to become unnecessarily careless with gems. Even diamonds, the hardest material in nature, can break when struck. Caring for gems not only includes cleaning but it also means using common sense when wearing gems and jewelry.
The most troublesome aspect of gem care involves home use of ultrasound cleaners and steamers. Jewelry manufacturers, goldsmiths, fine jewelers, and appraisers safely use industrial-strength models of such equipment. Some but not all crystal gems and jewelry are safe in either steamers or ultrasound cleaners, or both. You need to match your gems to the proper cleaning method. Ultrasound cleaners set water or cleaning fluid vibrating at extremely high frequencies, thereby shaking the dirt off stones. Such vibrations can quickly damage materials like amber, malachite, ivory, opals, pearls, tanzanite, and topaz. The reason more gems are not ruined is that the inexpensive units often sold to the public are too underpowered to shake the gems apart, or to clear away the dirt. Our Gem Care book notes which gems are safe in ultrasound, which are safe with soap, when to avoid household cleaners and swimming pools, and when to avoid sudden temperature changes. Gem Care is used in classrooms all over the world to teach gemologists how to advice clients about caring for their gems and jewelry.