Gemstone and Jewelry Care

Proper Care for Your Jewelry

Jewelry is beautiful but easily harmed. Do your best to protect any jewelry from harsh chemicals, extreme temperatures, scratches, sharp blows and sunlight.
  • Always take of jewelry before swimming. Chlorine can cause damage to various gemstones and gold. Gemstones may become loose in their settings (and possibly fall out).
  • Take off your jewelry before doing high impact sports as you may scratch the metal or chip the gemstones.
  • When doing household tasks such as gardening and cleaning, be certain to remove rings.
  • Put your jewelry on after washing and applying any makeup/hair spray.
  • Store jewelry separately so it doesn't scratch other jewelry.
  • Keep your jewelry in moderate temperatures. Do not store your jewelry on a window sill, heater vent or on a car dashboard.
  • As sunlight will fade many gem stones, store jewelry away from sunlight.
  • Keep bead necklaces (such as pearls, onyx and lapis) flat as silk will stretch.

Jewelry Hardness: Avoid Scratching Your Jewelry

The Mohs scale is the jewelry industries way of specifying a gems hardness. The higher the Mohs scale number, the harder the gem stone is. The highest Mohs scale rating is 10 (very hard but brittle - such as diamonds). Anything with a Mohs scale rating of less than 7 is easily scratched (examples are: amber, coral, lapis, malachite, pearl, opal and turquoise). Gold, silver, and platinum are only Mohs 2-1/2 to 4. Always carefully store any fine jewelry to avoid scratching.

Verify Jewelry Ring Mounts

Check that gems mounted in rings are not loose. The prongs of a ring can and do wear down over time. If the prongs wear down too much or break, you can loose the gemstone. Prongs are easily "retipped" by most jewelers to secure the gemstone. Visit your local jewelry store for help.

Keep Gemstones away from the Sun

Many gemstones are damaged in sunlight (there may be more): Amethyst, Ametrine, Apatite, Aquamarine, Aventurine, Beryl, Celestite, Chrysoprase, Citrine, Fluorite, Kunzite, Rose Quartz, and Smokey Quartz.

Avoid Stretching Bead Necklaces

If you own bead necklaces such as a wonderful strand of pearls, store them flat as silk will stretch over time. Stretched bead necklaces can easily break and if the necklace isn't knotted, beads will go everywhere. When knotted necklaces stretch, it can detract from their beauty. Many jewelers will restring necklaces or reset gemstones (for a fee).

Polishing Jewelry

Sterling silver jewelry will shine more by buffing or rubbing it with a Sunshine Cloth or a soft cotton cloth. To have your sterling silver jewelry be less likely to tarnish, store your silver jewelry in plastic bags with an interlocking seal. (Do NOT store your pearl jewelry in plastic bags!)


Zircon's brilliance, beauty and luminescence can not be rivaled by most gems. It was once considered as the diamond's alternative. The mineral actually belongs to the group nesosilicates. Zircon probably got its name from the Arabic word "zarqun", which means "vermilion"; or from the Persian word "zargun", which means "golden colored".
Zircon Gemstone Information
The mineral is available in a wide range of colors. Zircon is colorless when it is pure, but it can also be blue, green, brown, yellow, orange, red, and all other colors in between. The most popular of zircons is that of the color yellow, also called hyacinth after the flower hyacinthus. Zircons are in general transparent to translucent in appearance. Some zircons are known to have that .cat.s eye effect., although quite rare.
Zircon is among the most ancient minerals on Earth. A small fragment of Zircon was found in West Australia: It is roughly 4.4 billion years old. Even an older example is a discovered meteorite in Chile, which when examined, had fragments of the mineral for as old as 4.6 billion years old. Diamonds are fairly young compared to Zircons; they are only 3.3 billion years old.
Where Zircon is Found
The gemstone is quite remarkable, if only for its ubiquitous presence in the Earth's crust. It occurs in many geological processes; such as in igneous rocks, in metamorphic rocks, and in sedimentary rocks. Although fairly common, large zircon crystals are quite rare. Because of its uranium and thorium content, zircons self decay and self destruct after a specific amount of time. Zircons also played a significant role in the evolution of radiometric dating. Because of its uranium and thorium content, they can help pinpoint the exact date using many modern analytical techniques. Moreover, since the gemstones are able to withstand erosion, transport and metamorphism, they hold a rich and diverse documentation of geological processes. Now, Zircon is mined from various places around the world: Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Tanzania, Brazil, and other countries.
Zircon is brittle and sensitive to pressure; therefore it has the tendency to fray along its edges. On the other hand, the gemstone is incredibly durable. The mineral remains intact even under immense temperatures while other minerals begin to melt and reform during continental shifts and fierce asteroid impacts. Zircons should thus be stored and kept carefully because even though zircons are hard, their facets tend to graze and chip. Take care of your zircons carefully, clean them with mild soap, and use a toothbrush to brush on areas where dust is prone to collect.
Zircon is December's gemstone and the representation of the planet Pluto. During ancient times, zircons are believe to aid sleep, bring good fortune and promote honor to its wearers. A lose of color and luster of the gemstone warns the wearer that danger is near. It was used by shamans and healers for it was believed to have medicinal properties. Zircon is worn on the problem area of the body to aid in healing.
Natural Zircon
Nowadays, natural zircons are overlooked because of the discovery of cubic zirconia in 1937, a man made diamond imitation. Cubic Zirconias are laboratory grown, a compound of Zirconium, yttrium and oxygen. Though Cubic Zirconias are more common and more affordable, but they lack the luster and beauty of the natural zircons.


December's birthstone, Turquoise, is one of the most beautiful gemstones ever known to man. As the name suggests, the color is "turquoise", though the color of the gemstone varies from blue green to sky blue. The gemstone is a traditional present to commemorate 5 to 11 years of marriage.
Turquoise Information
The best turquoises are found in Iran. These best quality gemstones have that pure and radiant sky blue color, with or without its fine matrix. The more strongly the gemstone leans on the color green and the more irregular the matrix, the lower the stone's quality.
Be careful of turquoise imitations, they are quite plenty. The most common imitation of the stone is dyed magnesite and howlite. They are white in their natural states, with black veins like that of turquoises. Other less common and less convincing imitations include dyed jasper and marble. These imitations can be easily detected by gemologists through non-destructive tests, although destructive tests may deem necessary in some cases. Practice caution when buying gemstones, and always buy from legitimate and renowned gem stores.
The stone is ancient, its discovery dates back as early as 6,000 B.C., discovered by the Ancient Egyptians. The name of the birthstone was derived from a French term for Turkish (or Pierr Turquois), during the 16th century. However, this was a misnomer, for Turquoise does not come from Turkey, although it was traded in Turkish bazaars, where the Venetian merchants introduced to Europe. Moreover, the color has been used at length in the walls and floor tiles in Turkish homes and shrines for at least the 14th century. Another surmise is that the gemstone.s name refers to the color of the Mediterranean Sea, which is on the south Turkish coast.
Ancient Lore
For centuries, the gemstone has been esteemed as a holy stone, a good luck charm, and a talisman. Turquoise has been popular since its discovery, as proven by the excavation of Ancient Egyptian tombs around 3,000 B.C. Discovered grave furnishings, artifacts and jewelry were furnished with the gemstone. The Ancient Persians, on the other hand, believed that the gemstone should be worn around the neck or at the wrist at all times, to protect them against an unnatural death. They believed that if the gemstone changes color, looming danger is near and about to happen. The gemstone is usually worn on the turban, enclosed by pearls. They are encrusted in daggers, sabers and bridles as a talisman, to defend the wearer against the "evil eye".
The gemstone also had a special place among American Indians. The Aztecs of Mexico adorned their ceremonial masks with the stone. The Apache Indians believed that the gemstone gives warriors the ability to aim their targets better, while the Zuni tribes believed that the gemstone serves as a shield against demons.
Since time immemorial, the gemstone was the traveler's aid. It was believed that the stone guard the riders and their horses from falls. Today, the gemstone is still considered as a good luck charm for travelers, aviators and flight professionals to help ward off accidents.
How do you take care of your turquoises? Always keep your stone away from bright light, heat, and make up. Do not take it with you on the beach, or anywhere with prolonged high temperatures! Clean it with a clean, soft cloth from time to time.


Tourmaline is one of October's birthstones and comes in many colors - but primarily in pink and green. It is beautiful in rings, necklaces, and pendants
Tourmaline and Tourmaline Mines
by Margaret Burgon Klemp

My interest in the gemstone tourmaline is personal. I happen to live about 35 miles away from one of the most celebrated tourmaline mines in the world. It is located in the San Luis Rey River Valley in northern San Diego County in California. There are actually two mines there: The Tourmaline Queen mine with lodes given the names Tourmaline Queen and Tourmaline Queen No. 3. There are other smaller lodes in the Pala region, but the Queen mines are the largest and the most well known. The gem, tourmaline, is found in my own back yard.
The mine was discovered in 1903, and it became one of the worlds. major excavation areas for tourmaline. Then the local gem market ran into significant difficulties, and the mine became inactive until 1960 when it was purchased by Pala Properties International. Then mining operations were revived. Since the discovery of tourmaline in this region more of the high grade tourmaline has been produced there than at any other site in the whole Northern Hemisphere. Only operations in Brazil have yielded more fine tourmaline.
The tourmaline saga began when a gem collector took a beautiful piece of the gem to Tiffany and Company in 1876. His name was George F. Kunz, and he became one of the worlds' best known collectors of gems. He was hired by Tiffany as a consultant when he was only 20 years old. Because of his efforts the tourmaline family of gems was born. Tourmalines were his favorite gems although he collected myriads of other stones.
In his own narrative from Reminiscences of a Gem Collector Kunz describes his first connections with Tiffany. He explains this way:
"Breakfast at Tiffany's In those early days, no so-called fancy stones were on sale in any jewelry store in the country; one could scarcely find them in a lapidary's shop. Yet, reviewing those that I had gathered, it seemed to me that many ladies, even those who could afford the gesture of diamond tiara and pearl choker, would be happy to array themselves in the endless gorgeous colors of these unexploited gems. As I looked over a collection of them, with the sunlight imprisoned in the sea-green depths of the tourmaline, lapping at the facets of the watery-blue aquamarine, flooding the blood-red cup of the garnet, glancing from the ice-blue edges of the beryl, melting in the misty nebula of the moonstone, entangled in the fringes of the moss agate, brilliantly concentrated in the metallic zircon, forming a milky star in the heart of the illusive star sapphire -- how, I thought, could a woman ever resist their subtle appeal?
So one day, buckled in youth, I wrapped a tourmaline in a bit of gem paper, swung on a horse car, and all the way to my destination rehearsed my arguments. Arrived there, I was finally received by [Charles Tiffany] the managing head of what was even then the largest jewelry establishment in the world, and showed him my drop of green light. I explained -- a very little; the gem itself was its own best argument. Tiffany bought it . the great dealers in precious stones bought their first tourmaline from me. The check which crinkled in my pocket as I walked home in the late afternoon, forgetting there were cars, stargazing, tripping over curbs, meant very little in comparison with the fact that I had interested a foremost jeweler of that time in my revolutionary theory and made the acquaintance of a man who was later to become my close friend."
Chemically tourmaline is an extremely complicated group of stones. They are silicate minerals which contain silicon and oxygen and then it is mixed with aluminum and boron. It is also may contain sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, lithium and a host of other elements that may be found in its structure. The most common variety of tourmaline is schorl and may account for 95% or more of all tourmaline in nature. Schorl is black tourmaline. Tourmalines consist of ten mineral species and only three of them are considered to be gems. They are part of a crystal system that produces long prisms of a columnar shape. They range from slender to thick densities, and appear in triangular cross-sections. Tourmaline has a three-sided prism which is unique in the world of gems. There is a large range of colors among the tourmaline family of stones. According to ancient Egyptian lore the tourmaline made a long journey from the center of the earth and on its way it passed over a rainbow and absorbed and the colors. Collectors still refer to it as the "gemstone of the rainbow". The colors range from red to green and blue to yellow, and very often sport multiple hues. Some colors change when exposed to artificial light. Tourmaline also has unusual electrical qualitities. It collects fine dust when it is subjected to artificial light sources. Each tourmaline has a different appearance, and consequently there is one that suits each individual buyer. For this reason the ancients claimed that it had magical powers. They said it promoted long-lasting love and friendship.
Kunz, G. F. 1905. Gems, jeweler's materials, and ornamental stones of California. California State Mining Bureau bulletin 37: pages 127-129.
Reminiscences of a Gem Collector By George F. Kunz -- As told to Marie Beynon Ray (Reprinted from the Saturday Evening Post, November 26, 1927 -- as found on
Tourmaline Mine Info in San Diego on
Gemstones: Symbols of Beauty and Power, Eduard Gubelin and Franz-Xaver Erni, Geoscience Press, Tucson, Arizona
Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore, by Bruce G. Knuth, Jewelers Press, Thornton, Colorado
About Tourmaline on
About Tourmaline on Wikipedia