Whether you are getting caught in spring showers or taking a dip in quick dip into a lake to cool off, it is important to know how your gemstone jewelry may react to water.
Some gemstones can be damaged if they are fully submerged or exposed to water for an extended period of time, so I put together quick guide on which gemstones to avoid getting wet and how to clean them without causing damage.
Mohs Scale of Hardness
There are a few factors that make gemstones vulnerable to damage when submerged in water. The most significant factor to consider in terms of potential water damage is the hardness of a particular gemstone or crystal. All gemstones are ranked on the Mohs scale of hardness, which ranges from 1 to 10. If your gemstone or crystal ranks higher than 5 on the Mohs scale, it is generally considered to be water safe.
Risk of Rust
In the case of any stones that contain iron ores or flecks of copper, for example, pyrite, the iron or copper will rust or change hue when exposed to water for a long period of time. Most quartz stones are water safe with the exception of tangerine quartz, because it is copper that gives this stone its signature orange hue.
Toxic or Dangerous When Wet
Another big factor that impacts how vulnerable a stone will be to water is related to hardness particularly with the stones that have names that end with “ite”. While stones like malachite and fluorite tend to be softer, which increases the likelihood of damage caused by water, they can also leach potentially toxic materials into water. Malachite especially can release toxins, making even the water it has been soaking in dangerous to touch.
These Stones Should Never Be Submerged in Water
These are some other gemstones that are vulnerable to water damage:
- Gems/Stones ending in “ite” (see above)
- Lapis Lazuli
- Black Tourmaline
These Stones Can Be Submerged in Water
Some gemstones are completely water safe and can be submerged in water without being damaged. Jewelry made of these stones can be safely worn in the water, as well as cleaned with water,. These stones are even safe to add to a bottle or glass of water, which is a popular way of infusing the water you drink with the healing powers of these gemstones.
- Clear Quartz
- Rose Quartz
- Smoky Quartz
- Black Obsidian
Care and Cleaning for Water Vulnerable Gemstones
Some gemstones can be cleaned with water but should not be submerged in water for any extended period of time. The lists provided here are not comprehensive so it is always safest to check the cleaning and care instructions for each individual gemstone.
The safest way to clean a gemstone with water is with a soft toothbrush dipped in warm soapy water. The stone should then be dried, as leaving water to dry on the stone may leave spots. To clean a gemstone using no water at all, wipe with a soft, dry cloth.
Decorative Crystals and Gemstones
Gemstones have long been prized for their healing and cleansing abilities. These powers can be maintained through regularly cleaning your decorative crystals and gemstones, that is, the ones that are water safe. The simplest way to clean a water safe crystal or gemstone is to submerge it in a bowl full of water and leave it to charge under the light of a full moon.