Steam clean vs. ultrasonic cleaning for jewelry

Updated April 17, 2017

You should take your jewellery to a professional jeweller to have it cleaned once a year, according to In between professional cleanings, you can take care of your jewellery at home with steam or ultrasonic cleaning machines. Both of these machines will clean your jewellery, but, each works differently, so choosing the right one is important.

Jewellery Care

Many household cleaning products can damage your gold and silver jewellery. Likewise, gemstones can be damaged by chemicals such as chlorine. The best way to clean your jewellery is by using a mild, non-detergent soap, and warm water, according to MJ Thomas, LTD Jewelers. Dry your jewellery using a soft, lint-free cloth.

Steam Cleaners

Steam cleaners have been used for years by professional jewellers, according to Steam cleaners do not use chemicals to clean, but care should be taken not to expose your jewellery to sudden or extreme temperature changes as this can crack or damage your gemstones.

Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultrasonic cleaners are good for most metal jewellery, but care should be taken when cleaning jewellery that contain gemstones, according to All About An ultrasonic cleaner works by using high-frequency sound waves, which in turn shakes off the dirt. This vibration can cause serious damage to your jewellery, and if your stones have any pockets of gas or fractures (called inclusions), cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner can cause the inclusions to become bigger.

No Steam or Ultrasonic Cleaners

You may own gemstones that should not be cleaned with either a steam or ultrasonic cleaning machine. Gemstones such as emeralds or peridots may have been treated with oil or resin and cleaning them with either machine could cause damage or dullness. Fragile gemstones such as aquamarines, emeralds, peridots, tanzanite, topaz, tourmaline, or zircon should not be cleaned with either a steam or ultrasonic cleaner. Porous gemstones such as amber, agates, mother-of-pearl, opals, pearls, or red coral absorb liquid, so they should not be immersed in any cleaning solution, according to All About


Ultrasonic cleaners can loosen delicate or intricate settings, according to All About, so you should be careful when using an ultrasonic machine. The best advice is to consult your jeweller before using a steam or ultrasonic machine to prevent damage to your jewellery.

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About the Author

Valerie Coleman has written online articles since 2004. She specializes in medical topics but has also written career and travel articles with her work appearing on various websites. She majored in business at Rogue Community College in Oregon.