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Delicate Gems Need a Little TLC

Emeralds, opals, peridot, tourmaline, and tanzanite look wonderful in rings but they are susceptible to breaking and chipping due to natural internal inclusions. When used in rings, be sure to choose settings that not only secure, but also protect, the stones. They’ll be less likely to chip when set in brooches, pendants and earrings. Never scrub these stones. Instead, immerse them in warm, soapy water, wash with a soft cloth, rinse and let air-dry. Don’t expose them to intense heat or light for long periods.

Opals are rather soft and can scratch easily. Keep them separate from other jewelry and never wear them when doing hard work. Opals must never be stored in a too-dry place, such as a bank vault: They need moisture!

Cultured pearls also love moisture. If they’re constantly exposed to very dry conditions they could crack. They’re especially sensitive to chemicals and acids, and they scratch easily. Keep them away from perfume, hair spray, abrasives, solvents and acetone (nail polish remover).

Turquoise is extremely porous and will absorb just about anything it touches: oil, perfume, soap, etc. Therefore it should be carefully wiped clean rather than washed.

Coral scratches easily and its appearance can be marred by certain chemicals, notably chlorine, alcohol, ammonia and acetone.

The best way to keep your delicate stones clean and intact is to keep them out of situations where they’re likely to get dirty or damaged. Don’t wear them to the beach, or while exercising or camping or doing housework. While hard stones, such as diamonds, rubies and sapphires may be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner, delicate stones should not be. Steam cleaning can also sometimes cause delicate stones to fracture. Use warm soapy water instead, but never an ammonia solution.

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