Ultrasonic cleaners use sound waves to break down the dirt particles accumulated on the surface of your jewelry. It is important to know what materials you can clean with these devices and which ones you should avoid as putting the wrong piece of jewelry in may damage it.
Diamonds in an Ultrasonic Cleaner: Better Think Twice
Although diamonds are very durable stones, it is risky to clean them in an ultrasonic cleaner. Since almost all diamonds have inclusions, the ultrasound vibrations can enlarge these flaws or even cause the stone to break along them.
The rule of thumb is the more inclusions the diamond has (i.e. the lower its clarity grade), the higher the risk of internal damage when using an ultrasonic cleaner.
You might think that clarity-enhanced diamonds shouldn’t be at risk because you can’t see any internal flaws, but actually the opposite is true.
These stones’ clarity has been enhanced through fracture filling or laser drilling, and the process makes the diamond even more likely to crack when cleaned with an ultrasonic device.
Colored diamonds also should not be put in ultrasonic cleaners. Most diamonds of this type have been treated with heat to enhance their color, and ultrasonic cleaning can undo this effect, making these stones’ hues less vivid.
Can I Clean Other Gemstones?
Generally, the more brittle the stone, the more likely it is to be damaged in an ultrasonic cleaner.
Emerald, onyx, opal, tanzanite, lapis lazuli and turquoise are all examples of stones that shouldn’t be cleaned with ultrasonic devices. These gemstones can be easily damaged in the cleaner.
In addition, many of them have been treated using heat and other methods to enhance their color, making them even more susceptible to damage.
In general, most gemstones are not suitable for ultrasonic cleaning, and you shouldn’t risk putting them in the cleaner. This is also true for any synthetic or fake gemstones.
Click here to see a gem cleaning kit that can be used on most gemstones. Don’t forget to read the label and instructions in order to make sure that the cleaner is safe to use with the jewelry you have.
Can You Clean Pearls in Ultrasonic Cleaners?
Pearls are very soft and ultrasonic cleaning may partly dissolve them. Whatever the pearl, never put it into an ultrasonic cleaner.
Only use warm, soapy water to clean pearls, and while we’re at it, never use alcohol or other chemicals on them.
What About Other Organic Gems?
If you’re wondering whether amber or coral can be put into an ultrasonic cleaner, the answer is “no.”
Just like most other gemstones, these gems can be easily damaged by ultrasonic cleaning.
Can I Put Metal In?
Generally, yes. However, a notable exception is tungsten. This metal should not be put in ultrasonic cleaners because the cleaning process can damage it.
Whatever metals your jewelry is composed of, make sure to ask your jeweler whether it is safe to clean it with an ultrasonic cleaner as you never know what metals or alloys make up your jewelry.
What Can I Clean Using Ultrasonic Cleaners?
Metals such as gold and platinum are safe to clean with ultrasonic devices.
Hard natural gemstones can also be put into an ultrasonic cleaner provided that they have few inclusions and have not been treated with heat or chemicals.
Anyway, be sure to ask the jeweler at the time you purchase any piece of jewelry whether it can be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner.
There might be unsuitable alloys or gems, or some gemstones may have been treated, becoming more vulnerable in the process.