Silver and Semi-Precious Gemstone Jewellery – The Ultimate Care Guide

How to Care For Your Jewellery

Storage of Your Jewellery

Keep silver jewellery out of the air and light when stored to prevent tarnishing. A protective jewellery pouch, a lined box or just wrapping in tissue or soft cloth are all suitable.

Each piece of jewellery should be stored in a separate compartment to prevent scratching as a result of pieces knocking together. Gem-set jewellery will undoubtedly contain gemstones which are harder than silver and will therefore scratch the surface of the silver if allowed to jangle together. This holds true for gold as well.

General Care in Wear

Treat your jewellery with loving care and respect and it will stay young looking – like most women shoes.

Washing Up, Spring Cleaning or DIY?

Remove your jewellery when carrying out cleaning or other chores. Cleaning fluids can damage both the metal and the gemstones. A miss-hit with the hammer could end a beautiful relationship with not just your engagement ring.

Going out?

Remember to put your jewellery on after applying make-up and the hairspray and avoid contact with perfume.

Going swimming?

Remove all jewellery before entering a chlorinated pool. If you’re contemplating a sauna, remove all jewellery as it will burn you when it heats up. Many gemstones are damaged by prolonged exposure to heat.

Going on holiday?

Most of us come off the beach on the first day with the 3 s’s all achieved – rings caked in sand, sea-salt and suntan lotion.
Nude sunbathing, as far as silver and gold jewellery is concerned, is a must!
Remember also that sand will scratch the surface of precious metals.

Tour de France or Running the Marathon?

Sweat will not enhance your jewellery and no-one will be looking at it anyway.

What is Silver?

Sterling silver is 92.5% silver and is sometimes referred to as “pure silver”. The remaining 7.5% is usually copper but can be other metal and is used to give this precious metal strength and durability. Silver which is 99.9% silver is too soft to be practical for most day to day uses.

Generally, the higher the silver content the brighter or whiter the metal but beware of antiquing effects that can make a piece of sterling silver jewellery or decorative silverware look dark.

Sterling silver will tarnish over time but with care and regular cleaning can be restored to its “good as new” sparkling condition.

How Do I Clean Silver?

Natural body oils, soap and regular daily dust can build up on your jewellery.

A mild soap in water is usually enough to clean it. If gem-set, use a soft toothbrush to gently clean the surfaces of the gemstones. Remember the backs!

Gently pat the jewellery dry. Do not use tissue or anything other than a jewellery cleaning cloth to polish your jewellery as unseen tiny hard fibres will scratch the surface.

If more serious cleaning is required, then use a good jeweller’s rouge or jewellery cleaning dip. However, if your silver is gem-set see below for advice on specific gemstones to be sure what is safe to use. Some cleaners which are ideal for sterling silver may be too harsh for the set gemstone.

Ultrasonic cleaners are not recommended. They can damage pearls and gem-set jewellery.

How Durable is My Gemstone Jewellery?

First of all a note about the hardness and therefore relative durability of gemstones.

To measure hardness, the jewellery industry uses the Mohs scale. This gem-trade standard, conceived by Friedrich Mohs in 1812, measures the ability of a gem or mineral to resist abrasion damage. Diamond at 10 is the hardest whereas talc at 1 is the softest. Popular gemstones like amethyst and citrine register 7 whereas rubies and sapphires register 9.

Most substances your jewellery is likely to come into contact with will be around 7 on Mohs scale so any gemstone with a hardness higher than 7 is unlikely to scratch.

Precious metals (silver, gold and platinum) are quite low on the Mohs scale – less than 4.5 – and will scratch.

How Do I Clean Semi-Precious Gemstones?


Mohs scale 5-6
Turquoise is chalky in texture and is to be treated as fragile.
Always store carefully in a separate compartment to avoid scratching and chipping.

It will scratch easily and chip if subjected to rough treatment. It does not like to be immersed in water and does not respond well to chemical contact. Either can cause it to change colour – usually turning more green.

To clean, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface.
Never use jewellery dip.
Never use an ultrasonic cleaner.

Lapis Lazuli

Mohs scale 5-6
Lapis lazuli is a soft stone and like turquoise will chip easily.
Always store carefully in a separate compartment.

To clean, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface. Do not immerse in water as this can remove the protective coating.

Avoid contact with all chemicals.
Never use jewellery dip.
Never use an ultrasonic cleaner.


Mohs scale 3.5 – 4
Coral is a soft organic gemstone and porous.
Always store carefully in a separate compartment as it will easily scratch or chip.

Avoid large variations in temperature and prolonged exposure to sunlight.

To clean, use a damp cloth to wipe the surface.
Never use jewellery dip.
Never use an ultrasonic cleaner.


Mohs scale 2.5 – 4.5
Pearls are less durable than most gems. They are sensitive to acids, dryness, and humidity.

Avoid contact with any chemicals such as hairspray and perfume and wipe them clean with a soft cloth after wearing as natural body oils can discolour them.

Store them carefully, preferably in a pearl necklace box, a chamois bag or in tissue. Don’t throw them in a box with other jewellery as harder gemstones will scratch a pearl’s surface.

Cultured pearls can be washed carefully in mild soapy water.
Do not soak.
Do not dry in heat. Wipe dry with a soft cloth.

If worn often, restring every 2 years.


Mohs scale 5 – 7
Store larimar carefully, preferably in a separate jewellery compartment, a chamois bag or in tissue.
Avoid contact with any chemicals such as hairspray and perfume and wipe clean with a soft cloth after wearing as natural body oils can dull the surface.
Avoid prolonged exposure to bright sunshine as this may cause colour fading.

Clean in mildly soapy water with a tiny drop of ammonia and use a soft brush. Rinse well and dry with a soft jewellery cloth.
Any cleaning preparation recommended for pearls is suitable for larimar.