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How to Clean and Care for Emerald Gemstones: A Comprehensive Guide

While emeralds are a delightful green gemstone, they need a bit more care and consideration than other stones to keep them looking their best for years to come. Understanding how to clean emeralds is essential. Emeralds are natural gem minerals, and in some cases, there are naturally occurring impurities in the crystal. Also the methods of excavation often create fracture like inclusions during their harvest. These unique features are routinely treated with oil and green resin to reduce the visibility of blemishes. It’s completely acceptable to do this since reputable dealers disclose the information prior to sale.

LEIBISH 6.76 carat, Green, Ethiopian Emerald, Heart Shape, GRS

Understanding Emeralds

Learning about emeralds will unfold their unique characteristics. They are rare and therefore considered to be a precious gemstone. Emeralds are found in exotic locales like Zambia, Colombia and Brazil.

These crystals are a member of the beryl family, and owe their distinctive fresh tints to vanadium, chromium, and iron. Common inclusions in emerald are called ‘jardin’ for their branch-like appearance. Those inclusions can be trapped gas or even microscopic bits of the host rock where the emerald formed.

Many times, these inclusions are surface-reaching, so extra care is mandated in cleaning them and their overall care. Since many emeralds are treated to reduce the appearance of the inclusions, gentle cleaning is required to keep the treatment intact.

Preparing for Cleaning

You probably already have the items needed to clean your emerald at home. A bowl with warm, mild, soapy water, a couple of clean, soft cloths, and cool water to rinse will do the trick. 

LEIBISH Vivid Green Octagon Emerald and Diamond Three-stone Ring

Prepare your area for cleaning ahead of time. Get your bowl of soapy water ready on a solid table. Place a dry soft cloth in the same area. Have another cloth for gently washing the item in warm water. When you’ve gone over the entire piece, rinse it well and allow it to air dry away from the sun on a clean cloth.

Cleaning Methods

Gentle Hand Cleaning

Thorough but careful cleaning is best for emerald jewelry. Take a few moments to examine your item for loose stones, or bent metal, or even loose (or missing) prongs.

Do use a light touch when cleaning emerald jewelry. Don’t apply any rough cleaning solutions or abrasives to your cleaning water. Less is more when handling emerald jewelry.

Using Commercial Cleaners

There are many cleaners available today made expressly for jewelry. But stop here. Emeralds, with their tendency for inclusions and fractures are not suited for strong cleaning methods.

The right cleaning agent for emerald jewelry will always be a mild soap without detergent or abrasives in it. Add that to warm water in a bowl for the best results.

The application of your cleaning solution is also important. And here’s a helpful tip; Use a gentle touch and inspect the area you’ve just cleaned before moving on.

Professional Cleaning

If you feel insecure about cleaning your emerald jewelry, that is understandable. After all, you want to enjoy your jewelry for a long time and keep it looking lovely. You could take it back to the place of purchase—or to another professional jeweler in your area.

Your expert jeweler knows that emeralds require gentle care and handling. They will never subject your emeralds to an ultrasonic device. The waves emitted by that kind of cleaner could damage your emerald. What they will often do is gently clean your piece using the softest brush—much like a baby toothbrush. They can examine areas with a loupe to see how they are progressing. They may nudge some hard-to-remove debris with a cotton swab and follow that with the brush again.

LEIBISH Emerald Cascade Collection

Post-Cleaning Care

Take your time cleaning and caring for your emeralds. When you’re satisfied that you’ve cleaned the item to the best of your ability, simply place the piece on a soft, clean cloth to air dry. After you see that they are completely dry, it's time to store them in a dry, dark jewelry box or similar storage. Keep each piece of jewelry separate from the others so they don’t accidentally scratch one another.

It’s a good idea to personally inspect your emerald jewelry after each wearing. Twice a year, you may want to take your items to a professional jeweler for a more thorough inspection.

When you’re ready to put your emerald jewelry on, make sure your hands are clean—but free from lotions and creams. Also, if you’re wearing hair spray or perfumes, do this before you put your jewelry on. These steps prevent unintended damage and dirt from being attracted to your pieces.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Make it a practice to never consider using harsh household chemicals of any kind coming into contact with your emerald jewelry. The same goes for abrasive cleaners. These rough products will damage your beautiful emerald jewelry.

Reserve ultrasonic and steam cleaners for your other jewelry—like diamonds or sapphires.

Collectors who have never acquired emerald jewelry before may be surprised at the inclusions and cracks that may be on the stone. Some of these are visible even without magnification. They are part of the natural emerald personality.

Don’t ignore—if you see new or wider inclusions and cracks in your emerald jewelry that weren’t there before, it’s time to see a professional. While it’s not likely to happen, these inclusions can become more prominent if the stone is subject to dropping or bumping into a hard surface.

LEIBISH 5.81 carat, Green, COLOMBIAN Emerald, Pear Shape, GUBELIN


What household items can I use to clean my emerald jewelry?

Liquid Ivory Soap or non-bleach dish detergent is best.

Can I use an ultrasonic cleaner for emeralds?

Ultrasonic cleaners can damage emerald jewelry.

How often should I clean my emerald ring?

If you wear your emerald ring often, every 3 to 6 months is standard.

Is it safe to clean emeralds with vinegar?

The acid in vinegar may harm your emerald jewelry.

What is the best way to dry emerald jewelry after cleaning?

On a secure table with a clean cloth on it—simply air dry your jewelry after you’ve cleaned.

How do I remove stubborn dirt from my emerald?

You can take your emerald jewelry to the jewelry professional who will have experience in cleaning stubborn debris from your item.

Can cleaning emeralds too often damage them?

It’s not likely, but to play safe, stick with a 3 to 6 month cleaning schedule.

What should I do if my emerald gets scratched during cleaning?

You can take your emerald jewelry to your professional who can get a stone cutter-polisher to repolish the affected area.

How do I know if my emerald needs professional cleaning?

If the cleaning process you’ve been doing still leaves your jewelry looking dull or dirty—it’s time for a visit to your jeweler.

Emeralds are a popular but rare natural gemstone. While they can last a lifetime with good care, they do need a gentle touch when cleaning to keep that lovely appearance. By following these care and cleaning guidelines, you’re assured of a lifetime of enjoyment. Since good emeralds are hard to find, handling them with care will keep them valuable and beautiful for generations to come.

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