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How to Clean Emeralds

Updated on May 24, 2017

Emeralds are a classically beautiful addition to any jewelry wardrobe. Once you have an emerald ring, necklace, bracelet, or earrings, knowing how to maintain your jewelry is key to keeping it looking its best. Despite their reputation as a “hard” gemstone, emeralds require careful treatment to maintain their beauty.


Due to the geological processes that form them, all natural emeralds contain some degree of inclusions. While emeralds have a high hardness rating on the Mohs scale (7.5 to 8.0) that makes them relatively resistant to scratching, they can be vulnerable to chipping or fracturing. This is why you often see emeralds set in bezels or surrounded by diamonds or other accent stones, to protect them from being struck from the side.

Emeralds are routinely treated with oil to improve their clarity due to their natural inclusions. While this does not affect the value of the stone, it does limit the cleaning methods you can safely use on it. Commercial jewelry cleansers (which contain solvents), ultrasonic cleaning, and steam can all remove the oil used to treat emeralds, and therefore should not be used. In addition, ultrasonic cleaning can weaken existing fractures in an emerald, making it more prone to breakage. Emeralds should not be exposed to high heat, as this can also weaken them; any cleaning solution used should be cool enough that you can comfortably put your hand in it. And of course the stone should never be handled roughly.

54-carat emerald | Auction King
54-carat emerald | Auction King | Source

The best first step is prevention—you can minimize the frequency with which you need to clean your emeralds by making sure you wear them only when they have less chance of getting dirty. Put them on only after you’ve completed styling your hair and putting on your makeup, to avoid exposing them to cosmetics or styling products, and take them off if you’re going to be cleaning, gardening, or performing other messy tasks.

When you do need to clean emeralds, preferably not more than a few times a year, start by wiping them gently with a microfiber cloth to remove as much dirt and oil as you can at the outset. Then soak them in a solution of lukewarm water and mild detergent, such as dishwashing liquid, for about ten minutes. Use a very soft brush, such as an old toothbrush, to clean out the setting and remove any remaining dirt. Then rinse them well by submerging in lukewarm water, making sure you that you remove all soap. Finally, pat them dry with another microfiber cloth.

1.47ct Emerald and 0.28ct Diamond Ring
1.47ct Emerald and 0.28ct Diamond Ring | Source

With proper care, your emeralds will remain stunning through a lifetime of wear. If you’re looking to add emeralds to your jewelry collection without paying huge markups, live online auctions are a great way to shop. Online auctions, such as Auction King offer below-market prices on high-quality fine jewelry, with new and unique pieces added constantly, and their live auctioneer can answer your questions regarding any piece, ensuring you get exactly what you’re in the market for.

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