How to Clean Jade Jewellery
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness defines scratch resistance of different minerals and materials. Jadeite has a hardness of 6 - 7 on the Mohs scale while the hardest gemstone, diamond, has a hardness of 10. Interestingly, human teeth enamel has a hardness of 5 which is important to note in this article. Scratch resistance needs to be noted in cleaning of jade jewellery pieces because anything with a higher Mohs hardness rating should never come into contact with jade jewellery. For example, storing diamonds with jade will probably be a bad idea if the diamonds come into contact with the jade pieces since diamonds, being harder, can easily scratch and damage natural jade.
Why Jewellery Needs Cleaning
Being extremely tough as a material, jadeite jewellery pieces are well suited for everyday wear. However, with frequent wearing, jewellery pieces are exposed to all sorts of dirt and grime in our everyday lives. With set jewellery pieces, the intricate gold settings, whilst being delicate and fine, are the areas that end up accumulating dirt most easily. The accumulation of dirt and grime in minute spaces on jewellery pieces will affect their brilliance and result in a dull appearance of these jewellery. This is especially apparent in faceted gemstones where light needs to be able to reflect off clean, polished surfaces. With a layer of dirt on these facets, the amount of light reflected off their surfaces will diminish and reduce the amount of brilliance in any gemstone. Jade is slightly better off in this regard due to their more common cabochon cutting which does not result in any facets. However, if a layer of oil is smudged over the surface of a jade cabochon, light will end up being reflected off the oil instead of the polished jade surface. The resulting appearance will be a greasy look which will severely affect the beauty of the jade. Additionally, with most jade jewellery settings, the adorning diamonds and gold setting will also be affected if they are not regularly cleaned.
How to Clean Jade Jewellery
Toothbrushes are very effective in cleaning jade jewellery. Being designed to clean human teeth which has a lower Mohs scale hardness than jade, they are relatively safe for gently cleaning off dirt and grime in tough to reach areas of jewellery pieces. However, to be on the safe side, the recommendation is to use toothbrushes that have soft bristles. Using a toothbrush designed for children would be an easy way to select a suitable toothbrush.
Firstly, rinse the jade jewellery with water and lather a small amount of hand soap onto the jade jewellery. Carefully brush the jade jewellery with the selected toothbrush. Larger jade cabochon surfaces can be gently cleaned with ones’ fingers, instead of the toothbrush. Gold setting with tiny crevices should be brushed, along with the underside of the jade jewellery, to remove any dirt that is trapped. Once all the surfaces have been gently brushed and cleaned, wash the soap away with water thoroughly to ensure there is no remaining residue on the jade jewellery. As a last step, gently dry the jade jewellery with a soft towel.
As a note, 18K gold which is commonly used in jewellery, is not a particularly hard material. 18K gold has a Mohs scale hardness of around 3 - 4, depending on the alloys used in the gold. Thus, choosing a soft bristled toothbrush is crucial. And while brushing gold jewellery, scrubbing hard is not advised.
What to Avoid
Care must be taken while cleaning jade jewellery with soap. While being tough, dropping a piece of jade on a hard surface, like a wash basin, can break it. Soap used for hand wash is sufficient for cleaning jade jewellery. Abrasives found in cleaning material such as toothpaste should not be used at all cost. The tiny abrasives will damage the jade surfaces.
Lastly, avoid applying alcohol cleaners directly on jade surfaces. Alcohol is often used for cleaning gemstones and gold jewellery. However, with natural Type A jade, wax is applied as a very thin layer during the polishing process. The wax layer is not permanent and will eventually disappear with time but alcohol will speed up this process. While it does not permanently damage the jade in any way, the layer of wax, which acts as a protective layer against grime, will be removed. The wax layer can be re-applied again easily but it would be better simply to use normal hand soap to clean jade jewellery.
Regular cleaning will help maintain beautiful, pristine conditions of your jade jewellery pieces for a long time. Thank you for reading!