The safest way to clean jewelry is to use a cloth. But that might not be efficient or effective - think about body oils and lotions we put on our skins and the grime we accumulate during the day. There are different options.

I usually clean my jewelry in an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner if it is just dirt and grease I want to remove. The agitation does a good job of removing contaminants from surfaces.  And I can put in several pieces of jewelry and get them cleaned all at once.

But I also use tumblers if I want to remove tarnish polish up solid metal pieces like sterling silver.  I use a Lortone tumbler with stainless steel shot with water and a little dish soap. The little kid's rock tumbler to the right of my Lortone was the first tumbler I ever bought. I fill it with dry rice or ground walnut shells to clean and polish up chain maille pieces - I mainly use bright aluminum, copper and brass rings.

But organics like pearls and amber are best not cleaned with ultrasonic cleaners or stainless steel shot tumblers. They are too delicate.

So I was quite surprised to see this useful gemstone jewelry cleaning chart from Fire Mountain Gems. There are other gemstones which require more caution than I thought.  I did not know amazonite and tourmaline should never be put into an ultrasonic cleaner! And neither is howlite which is a common gemstone, sometimes dyed.

Note the chart is not comprehensive. It does not list the dos and don'ts for tumblers. But as rockhounds love to tumble harder gemstones like agates, jaspers, quartzes like amethyst, citrine, tiger's eye (see this reference) . Gemstones that are on the top half of the Mohs scale of mineral hardness are usually hard enough.

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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