There are many people who collect gemstones individually or in assortments, either polished and treated or in rawer states. Most people who own gemstones however, will have them set in jewellery. While gold and silver jewellery has its own care guidelines, so do precious stones.
It’s almost a given that all precious stones are incedibly tough, able to resist wear, scratches or chipping. The truth is that most jewels and stones are susceptible to damage, depending on their hardness. Even diamond isn’t completely indestructible!
A precious stone that is popular when set in jewellery, is turquoise. This beautiful blue/green gem is stunning when set in silver, which helps to bring out the richness of the colour.
But where does it come from? Put simply, turquoise is formed by the merging of acids, minerals and oxidising metals. Although the result is a hard secondary mineral, it is placed between 5 and 7 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. To put this in perspective, graphite is around 1 and 2 Mohs and diamond is 10.
With this in mind, scratching is one of the main issues surrounding the care of turquoise jewellery, but there are other things to look out for. Here are a few hints and tips that should help!
Cleaning – If your turquoise jewellery is dusty and in need of a clean, don’t use hard bristles to scrub the stone. Clean water is often sufficient and you should dry the stone with a soft cloth. These days, ultrasonic cleaners that are used for cleaning jewellery, however these can cause internal damage to stone’s internal structure.
How to avoid damage – Turquoise is a porous gemstone, which means that microscopic holes run through it. Some turquoise stones are treated with an epoxy resin to stabilise its porous structure, but dirt and oils from the skin can still affect the stone’s shine. If you’re doing any manual work, whether that’s moving furniture, DIY, gardening or housework, remove your turquoise jewellery. This will also avoid chipping.
Storage and repair – Turquoise can be damaged and scratched when rubbed against other materials. When storing your turquoise jewellery, ensure that it has its own section in a jewellery box, or its own container. The stone is also affected by high temperatures, and intense heat can damage the internal structure of turquoise, deadening the shine or muting the colour. This isn’t a concern in normal temperatures, be that sunlight or household heating, but can be an issue when it comes to repair. It is advisable to contact a professional jewellers to repair jewellery, particularly when using devices such as a soldering iron, due to the intense temperatures such devices can reach.