Emeralds are prized members of the beryl family of gemstones and are known to contain more inclusions than their beryl-family counterparts! Because of this, there are a few particular methods of care that will come in handy when cleaning or maintaining your emerald’s brilliance, hue and hardness! At 7.5 on the Mohs scale, emeralds are relatively durable- and suitable for everyday wear, however are susceptible to being scratched by harder gemstones such as sapphires, rubies and diamonds. Store them in a separate softly lined box or pouch to avoid this happening.
Avoid soaking your emerald in water, instead dip a soft bristled brush into a gentle combination of very mild detergent and lukewarm water, gently brush the emerald and then dry with a lint free cloth.
Many prefer to have their emeralds professionally cleaned to retain their gleam, however it is important to remember that up to 90% of all emeralds on the market are estimated to have been enhanced with either oil or resin. Because of this, it can be risky to have your emerald cleaned with an ultrasonic or steam cleaner- these are commonly used in jewellery shops.
The solutions used in ultrasonic cleaners may cause the oil or epoxy that is filling small fractures in an emerald to dissolve, and vibrations may weaken heavily fractured stones- causing higher potential for cracking. In addition to strong solutions and vibrations, warm vapour in steam cleaners can cause resin or oil to sweat out of the fractures in a stone, causing brittleness.
Chips, Scratches & Cracks
Emeralds are particularly sensitive to heat and should be kept away from excessive solar radiation, warm temperatures, or fluctuation in temperature as this may dry out the fillings and fracture the emerald. When having a repair done on an emerald piece, it is also worth asking the jeweller to remove the emerald from its setting, as the extreme heat from torches leaves the emerald fillings vulnerable to drying out or being burnt. Expect to pay a little more when having repairs or cleaning done on your emerald, they are slightly less resistant than other gemstones and therefore require extra care.
Cleaning should occur no more than a few times per year, and you may want to consider having your emerald re-oiled after many years of wear to tend to its inclusions and improve the stone’s overall appearance. Most jewellers are familiar with this process and will happily provide this service.