Proper care and handling of your jewellery can help it maintain its beauty and sparkle for years to come. When you have purchased a piece of jewellery, it is important to take proper care to ensure it lasts.
The hardness of a gem is based on a gem trade standard called Moh’s Scale, developed in the 19th century. The scale rates the hardness of a material out of 10 and at each higher number it can be abrasive to a material with a lower number. Diamonds are rated at the highest of 10; rubies and sapphires are 9; emeralds and topaz are 8; garnets, tourmalines and quartz are 7. Those materials below 7 can be scratched or chipped easily if not worn with care. These gemstones include including opal, turquoise, lapis lazuli, coral and pearl.
Gold, silver and platinum metals are only rated at between 2.5 and 4 on Moh’s scale of hardness which means they require special care, cleaning and storage.
Ultrasonic machines use sound waves above the range of human hearing (called 'ultrasound' between 40-200kHz) and a solvent to clean ordinary items, like jewellery. Vibrations and heat work together with the solvent to clean items that otherwise may be too detailed or tricky to clean by hand. They are commonly used in jewellery cleaning as the process is quick (a typical cleaning cycle can take only 3-5 minutes) and it effective for cleaning small, intricate items. It is important that you understand whether your jewellery can be cleaned with an ultrasonic as some items can be irreparably damaged. Organic gems (such as amber, pearls, ivory and coral), porous gems (such as emerald and opal), gems with cracks or surface reaching inclusions, and gems that are susceptible to changes in temperature should never be put into an ultrasonic. It is always a good idea to talk to your jeweller if you are planning on using an ultrasonic to check if your items are safe to clean. If in doubt, have your items cleaned by a jewellery professional.