Cleaning Turquoise - What to Do and What Not to Do

Published: 01st June 2009
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Turquoise is a popular gemstone with jewelry fans throughout the world, and as such, you probably own at least one silver turquoise pendant as part of your jewelry wardrobe. You may have bought this piece of jewelry because you were taken by the beauty of the blue stone and the artistic silver setting in which it was framed. Or, like many others, you may have been more interested in the metaphysical benefits of wearing turquoise jewelry. Whatever your reasons, you now own this jewelry and have probably developed a personal attachment to it, and would like to enjoy its beauty for years to come. And this connection to a piece of beautiful jewelry has little to do with what it cost you. This article has been prepared to share a few simple tips and tricks to take care of turquoise jewelry.

To best take care of your jewelry, it is useful to have some background about the geological and physical properties of turquoise. Its formation began several years ago when copper and aluminum phosphates that were dissolved in water were transported and deposited as evaporites. Under high heat and pressure, silica entered the mix and fused these compounds together, creating turquoise. In most turquoise, the process of silicification was incomplete. As a result, the resulting turquoise was soft and had a high content of voids. Today, this turquoise must be treated with stabilizing agents before being used in turquoise jewelry. The stabilizing treatment can vary from a surface coat of wax or vegetable oil, to something as sophisticated as infusing the stone with vaporized silica. The most common stabilizing treatment is to infuse the stone with a clear epoxy resin liquid, and then allowing it to harden.

When doing cleaning chores around the house, make sure not to wear turquoise jewelry. Turquoise should not be exposed to cleaning agents such as turpentine, denatured alcohol, ammonia, and chlorine. These chemicals will attack the stone and cause it to deteriorate with time. For the same reasons, never wear turquoise when swimming. Wrap individual pieces of jewelry in soft cloth when storing. This is particularly important when storing softer materials such as turquoise, which can be easily scratched by harder stones and metals. If the turquoise is part of a cultured pearl necklace recognize that the pearls are probably more delicate than the turquoise, and choose your cleaning techniques accordingly. Use warm water and a mild soap to clean away daily grime and dirt. Use a q-tip for a gentle cleansing. Soaking turquoise in water, or using ultrasonic cleaners is not recommended.

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