Do you have gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, jade, emerald, lapis, turquoise, malachite, onyx, pearls, coral, opal, amber or others and wonder about how to polish gemstones? There are at home methods, which this e-how article will explore, but do understand that a once-a-year-cleaning and polishing from a professional jeweler is advised and available to those who own gemstones. Professionals know which gemstones can take ultrasound cleaners (such as diamonds), which should be tumbled in a pumice mixture and avoid ultrasound (such as pearls), etc. Even if choosing an at-home method to polish gemstones, you may want to first get it okayed by a professional. Different gemstones need different treatment. What works for one could destroy the other. So, be aware, and be careful. For your at-home restoration treatment of gemstones, you'll start with cleaning and scrubbing properly, which may be all the polishing you need, and then move to more serious polishing if you still see nicks or lack of sparkle in your gemstones.

Clean diamonds, rubies, sapphires and other transparent, single mineral gemstones properly. Fill a glass with hot distilled water and a touch of mild dish soap. Soak gemstones overnight. Then gently scrub the gemstone with a soft bristle toothbrush. The soaking will also help dislodge any dirt that has accumulated behind the stone. Rinse, then clean again in new water that has a touch of ammonia to remove any remaining film.

Clean opaque, soft and porous gemstones properly. Porous, opaque and soft gemstones should only be wiped clean with a moist, soft lint-free cloth. Do not use soap, ammonia, or any other chemical as they can absorb it which can lead to discoloration. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners for these as well. These opaque and porous gemstones that should only be wiped with pure water include lapis, amber, turquoise, pearl, opals, coral, malachite, and onyx. If in doubt, do a search of your particular gemstone to see which category it falls into.

For even more serious at home methods to polish gemstones, purchase a jewelers' polishing cloth from a reputable dealer and follow its instructions precisely, making sure the polishing cloth specifically states it's meant for your particular type of gemstone. They come in various names, such as, "jewelers' rouge polishing cloth," or "selvyt cloth" meant for gems and jewelry. Some are specifically made for very soft gemstones and guarantee they'll buff and add sparkle without scratching. Some are better for the harder gemstones.

  • The harder gemstones can scratch softer ones, as well as the gold or silver they're attached to, so be sure to store gemstone jewelry properly.