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Your Stones & the Ultrasonic: The Importance of Bringing Your Jewelry in to be Cleaned

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May 28
2020

Jewelry maintenance can be a bit daunting, with many common questions being: 

  • How many times a year should I be cleaning my jewelry?
  • How should I clean them?
  • Will I damage my jewelry using certain cleaners?

Today’s entry will mainly focus on the importance of bringing your jewelry into your jeweler for cleaning as they will have the optimal equipment and expertise on staff to address any unexpected complications that may occur. If any of these do happen, a jeweler’s workshop will be the best place for them to happen since they are best equipped to address them on the spot. In other words, many times a jeweler will be able to spot problems before they occur out on the street or in the home. Specifically, in the matter of stone security.

Many times, a jeweler will have the optics necessary to spot a loose stone that the naked eye will not be able to detect. Even then, all it takes is the right point of pressure to loosen a stone that can even appear to be set properly. The best way to test this is to bring your jewelry in for an official cleaning. Most jewelry stores have a machine called an Ultrasonic Cleaner

Here we see an Ultrasonic Cleaner. Notice the tank reserved for a mixture of industrial jewelry cleaner and water, as well as the knobs intended to activate the ultrasonic pads located within the tank.

Ultrasonic cleaning is the best way to clean and test stones for security, as it literally shakes vibrates shakes everything immersed inside the tank at such a high rate that it will loosen dirt at a microscopic level, including loose stones.

Common types of jewelry to check for loose stones are earrings and rings set with many smaller diamonds/stones (also called “melee”). Today, we are checking a pair of white gold dangle earrings set with diamond melee all throughout. 

Here we have an earring that has lost 4 stones in the ultrasonic cleaner.

During a cleaning in the ultrasonic, about 4 diamonds fell out. Luckily most ultrasonic machines simply catch stones and debris at the bottom of the tank and are fairly easy to retrieve, and will never be exposed to accidentally being flushed down a drain. 

 

After retrieving the stones, they are placed aside in a stone tray.

 

Notice how small they are at only 1mm wide along the girdle.  

So far we can see now that it is better to have discovered these loose stones now instead of losing them in places where the stones will fall randomly and without notice. Once the jeweler has reset the loose stones, it is then time again to leave them in cleaning in the ultrasonic to see if they fall out again, or if any others want to shake themselves loose. 

 

Here the earrings will sit immersed with the ultrasonic vibrations affecting every nook and cranny of the earrings.

 

Looks good! No lost stones.

To answer the above commonly asked questions, it is recommended to bring in your wedding rings every 3-4 months, earrings and pendants every 6 months if worn regularly. Any stored jewelry should be cleaned and polished once a year as even gold can tarnish when left in storage. While home cleaning kits can be used and does help, an ultrasonic cleaner is the best way to give your jewelry a full cleaning inside and out, and home cleaners will make it almost impossible to reach underneath stones that over time will collect a layer of hard to remove dirt, leaving stones looking dark and dull. There aren’t many chemicals that will harm the gold/platinum or diamonds, but silver and porous stones such as emeralds and opals can be easily damaged with harsh chemicals. These delicate stones should never be placed in an ultrasonic bath, but a jeweler will still be able to clean them manually. 

After a final check under the microscope, these earrings are ready to wear confidently to a formal event with your favorite outfit. Gorgeous!

Please see us at Samuelson’s for your jewelry maintenance needs, as we will always offer free cleanings for any pieces of jewelry bought with us.

NEXT UP: On the Bench: The Difference a Full Refinishing Makes