Great Article: Care and Cleaning of Turquoise

I usually do my own writing, but, today, I found this article that covers the care and cleaning of turquoise so well that I thought I would repost it here.

by Raymond Ihrig, from

On the Moh’s hardness scale of 1 to 10 (1 – Talc or Chalk, 10 – Diamonds), gem grade turquoise measures between 5 and 6, and is quite porous. Even though turquoise is fairly hard, it can scratch easily, especially if you store or wear your turquoise jewelry with other gemstones – to avoid scratches just don’t rub them together. Pits are caused by bumping against other gemstones. You can place your turquoise jewelry in a silk, natural leather, or felt pouch, before storing in your jewelry box. Some people wrap turquoise necklaces in a silk scarf, or soft cloth, before hanging. This is a perfect way to keep your turquoise. Just be sure the cloth is white to avoid color dyes from staining or leaching into the turquoise.

Additional Precautions:

Turquoise can be damaged by household chemicals, cleaners, oils, perfumes, and even toothpaste – avoid them. Also keep turquoise away from high heat. If you use a local jeweler to clean your jewelry, be sure to ask how they will clean your turquoise. It also doesn’t hurt to know if the person doing the work is a jeweler or lapidary. Make sure they will not use an Ultrasonic cleaner. Many commercial vibrating baths also use heated cleaning solution; avoid these machines because the vibration can crack or damage stones containing natural matrix* lines, and most do. Your turquoise will thank you for it.

High Pressure Steam (HPS) is safe only in short bursts. Prolonged exposure to HPS can over-heat your turquoise and cause damage. A professional lapidary or jeweler understands the characteristics of turquoise and will use great care when cleaning your turquoise. However, the use of HPS is discouraged because it can damage or even break your fine turquoise. * Most turquoise has natural veins or fissures running through the stone, it is the matrix in which the stone formed and is often considered a beautiful aspect of the mineral. But these areas also determine a stones’ durability. High pressure steam heats the stone up, enters the fissures under pressure and can weaken the stone, remove bits of the matrix thereby altering its appearance, cause it to crack further, or even break it entirely. Clear turquoise, stones with no visible veins or spidering, can still be damage by HPS. Turquoise is porous, heat from steam will cause the stone to expand thereby opening the pores further and allowing infiltration of the water inside. And if there is matrix hidden within the stone it could cause problems years later. Again, HPS is safe when performed by a professional. But it’s not my preference even so.

BOTTOM LINE: DO NOT use commercial jewelry cleansers, or machines, to clean your turquoise jewelry. These products are great for most jewelry, just not your treasured turquoise. Your local jeweler should know and understand these concerns and should be happy to explain their cleaning process to you. If they don’t, or cannot explain in detail, politely walk away. Besides, it’s your jewelry, you paid for it, and you have a right to know and understand how it will be handled.


Here’s a safe and simple way to clean your own turquoise jewelry:

Take a small, clean, cotton cloth, or towel with a short nap, and soak it in warm water and squeeze it out just a little, then fold the cloth and lay it on a flat surface; your kitchen counter if fine, but the cloth will leak water. You might want to use a tray with a slight lip to avoid leaking water all over the place. If you’re cleaning a necklace, open the clasp and lay it lengthwise on the towel or cloth. Now take a soft bristle toothbrush, run a little water over it and put a few drops of clear plain dish soap on the brush. Either press one end of the necklace down with your fingers or hold about 1/3rd of the necklace in your hand as the remaining 2/3rds of the necklace rests on the cloth. Then rub or brush the necklace in the opposite direction, or away from you, using a scraping motion – kind of like peeling a potato. Apply some pressure and make smooth strokes down the entire length of the piece, past the end. Suds will form the more you brush since the cloth is wet, this is a good thing – lather it right up. Roll, rotate, or turn, the piece over and do the same on the other side. After several seconds or minutes of brushing, your choice, flip the piece around and hold the other end and do the same thing. Rinse the necklace in warm water and take a look – don’t dangle the necklace over the sink, coil it up in your open hand and slowly run warm water over it. If you feel more cleaning is needed, have fun. When you’re finished, immediately lay the necklace on a clean dry cloth and pat it completely dry – leave your necklace out for several hours to be sure all the water has dried before storage.

Note: Since turquoise is porous it will change color the more it is worn and over time. This is a natural process and is what makes turquoise a special and personal adornment.

So with some thoughtful and careful handling you can avoid scratches, pitting, and other damage, and you will be able to enjoy your turquoise jewelry for a lifetime.

Enjoy Your Turquoise

Raymond Ihrig’s site: has wonderful ideas and tips.


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