Cleaning Sapphires

by D.C. Winston ; Updated September 28, 2017

Clean your sapphire jewelry with care -- even this hard gemstone can chip.

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Sapphire, a corundum stone from the same category as the ruby, is one of the hardest and most durable of the gemstones. Sapphires range in color from white to pink to green and nearly all colors of the rainbow in between, except for red, which is considered a ruby. A few basic cleaning supplies and some gentle care are all you need to keep sapphire stones sparkling.

Soap and Water

Make a solution of mild dish soap mixed with warm water and soak your sapphire jewelry in the solution for between 20 minutes and an hour, depending on how soiled it is. Wipe down the surface of the stones with a soft cloth dipped in the solution. Use a soft, old toothbrush to work around the settings and the undersides of the sapphires to remove any film buildup or debris. Rise clean with clear tepid water and set on a clean, absorbent towel to air dry.

Ammonia and Water

Household ammonia diluted at least 50 percent with tepid water makes an ideal cleaning solution for sapphires, recommends the International Colored Gemstone Association, because it leaves them shiny and without a haze. Ammonia is the main active ingredient in most commercial jewelry cleaners on the market. Make up a solution in a bowl, and soak your sapphire jewelry for 10 to 20 minutes; rub any resistant grime off with a soft toothbrush or a soft rag. Rinse in running water and set the jewelry on a clean towel to air dry. If your sapphires are set with other, more porous gemstones, do not soak them in the ammonia solution. Depending on the other gems, you can apply the ammonia solution just to the sapphires with a cotton swab and then rinse clean with clear water. However, do not use ammonia if you have soft gems like pearls or opals in the piece of jewelry.

Ultrasonic and Mechanical Cleaners

While ultrasonic cleaning machines are safe for harder stones such as sapphires and diamonds, they are not suitable for softer or more porous stones. If your sapphires are set with stones other than diamonds or rubies, skip the ultrasonic or jewelery cleaning machine to be on the safe side. If you use an ultrasonic machine, add a few drops of ammonia in the cleaner to add extra gleam to your sapphires.

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