There’s nothing quite like the gleam of freshly cleaned jewelry, but the big question is which gemstones can be cleaned safely in an ultrasonic cleaner?
I personally own precious jewels that has been past down through generations please read on to learn which gemstones and metals are safe for ultrasonic cleaners.
What stones can not go into an ultrasonic cleaner?
Heavily Inclined Stones
Any stone with significant inclusions might be damaged in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. While the gemstone might not break immediately, it is almost a certainty that the inclusions will get worse as the bubbles attempt to work their way in. The vast majority of diamonds sold as jewelry don’t have enough inclusions to put them at risk, but it is something to be aware of.
Are diamonds safe to clean in an Ultrasonic Cleaner?
Although diamonds are very durable stones, sometimes it may be risky to clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner. Diamonds that have significant inclusions are at risk of damage since the ultrasound vibrations can make these internal flaws worse.
The rule of thumb is that if a diamond has big and very visible inclusions, there is a higher risk of internal damage when using an ultrasonic cleaner, and that risk depends on the nature of the inclusion. Most diamonds sold as jewelry are not at risk, but you may want to be on the side of caution if the stone has very visible inclusions, and you may prefer to opt for professional cleaning in that case.
You might think that clarity-enhanced diamonds shouldn’t be at risk because you can’t see any internal flaws, but actually the opposite is true.
These stones’ clarity has been enhanced through fracture filling or laser drilling, and the process makes the diamond more likely to crack when cleaned with an ultrasonic device, so proceed carefully or take your stone to an experienced jeweler for cleaning.
Some colored diamonds also should not be put in ultrasonic cleaners. Many diamonds of this type have been treated to enhance their color, and depending on the treatment, ultrasonic cleaning can undo this effect to an extent, making these stones’ hues less vivid. So if a diamond’s color has been enhanced, don’t risk it unless you’re certain that the treatment effect will hold.
Here’s what the Gemological Institute of America has to say on ultrasonic cleaning and diamonds:
Proceed cautiously if the diamond contains feathers or is included, and avoid ultrasonics if the diamond has been treated by fracture filling.
Brittle stones don’t work well in an ultrasonic cleaner either. Brittle stones include opals, onyx, emeralds, turquoise, lapis lazuli. The vibrations can cause the stone to crack, and once the bubbles work into said crack that gem is inevitably going to break. I would highly recommend never putting a brittle stone into an ultrasonic cleaner, as even one round can be enough to cause significant damage. The time saved simply isn’t worth the money lost in most cases.
Opal, onyx, emeralds, and turquoise were mentioned above already but there are a few more stones that should stay far away from an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. You can add pearls, amber, and coral to the list. These are all actually organic materials which means they have nowhere near the kind of durability that is needed to survive an ultrasonic cleaning. Not even once. Organic materials will be eaten away the first time through, without fail.
Do not clean in such cleaners jewelry in which the stones touch (like in a channel setting, for example); otherwise, they might chip when subjected to vibrations.
Hard natural gemstones
Rubies can also be put in an ultrasonic cleaner provided that they have few and small inclusions and have not been treated with heat or chemicals, or don’t have any coating.
A large number of gems like rubies or diamonds might have been color treated in order to make them look more even. Fortunately or unfortunately an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner will let the truth be known as that treatment is stripped away just like any other foreign material. It can be disheartening to discover this on your own, but if you are dealing with a reputable jewelry dealer they will let you know exactly what treatments the gem you’ve chosen has undergone.
Is metal safe for ultrasonic cleaning?
That’s a good chunk of gems that should stay out of the ultrasonic cleaner, but surely metals are more durable? Well, more durable is accurate but there are exceptions to any rule. The only metal that shouldn’t be cleaned in this way is tungsten jewelry. Intense agitation and vibration can cause tiny fractures that affect the integrity of this metal. You shouldn’t need to worry about this situation regardless, as tungsten is a fantastically low-maintenance metal that doesn’t corrode, fade, or tarnish.
Metals such as gold and platinum are safe to clean with ultrasonic devices.