Caring for Turquoise jewelry

Turquoise is a relatively soft stone (5-6 on the MOHS scale) and so for that reason it is fairly easy to damage and needs to be given special attention when cleaning.If your piece is just turquoise, like a raw edge or nugget turquoise necklace, warm water and a touch of dish soap is all you want and all you need to properly clean the piece. If your turquoise is feeling or looking dull or matte textured, or just doesn’t have the same shine or sheen you want, once it is completely dry, you can take a small amount of olive oil and rub it into and onto the stone, evenly covering all surfaces. Make sure to get it completely dry with a paper or cloth towel when you’re done and before wearing it, you do not want to end up with olive oil stains on your new blouse you got to complement your gorgeous Turquoise necklace! Because Turquoise is so porous and such a soft stone it will actually absorb just enough of the oil onto the surface particles of the stone giving it a glossy polished sheen look but will still feel clean to the touch once the oil is properly wiped off.If you own and love Turquoise jewelry you more than likely own a few stunning pieces set in sterling silver; a gorgeous and very common paring frequently used in Native American and South Western jewelry. We have a fantastic selection of vintage one of a kind pieces if you have not already taken a look, you absolutely should!For cleaning silver, polishing with Wrights silver polish or dipping in Tarnex is generally just fine. Of course a local jeweler can use a polishing wheel to give an extra sharp shine, but those work best on larger flatter surfaces, they cannot get into small detailed nooks and crannies of ornate handmade jewelry. The polishing wheel is also abrasive and removes a very small amount of the metal.At this point it’s probably worth mentioning or diving into, what exactly is tarnish? It clearly does not seem to come off like dirt with regular dish soap, why not? A common misconception is that it is oxidized. It’s easy to think that, since when you leave silver in the open air for a long period of time it develops tarnish on it, but that is not what is happening. Silver, like gold and platinum group metals, is a noble metal, meaning it is very unreactive and does not react with oxygen. Tarnish comes from sulfur. Tarnish is Silver Sulfide (Ag2S). Basically there are very small amounts of lots of different trace gasses in our atmosphere, Hydrogen Sulfide is one of them. When Hydrogen Sulfide interacts with silver, like your sterling jewelry, the sulfur bonds with the silver making silver sulfide i.e. tarnish and releases the hydrogen back into the atmosphere. Fun fact: sometimes during the smelting process, if dealing with very tarnished silver the crucible or cast may get scorched with sulfur, leaving behind a yellow powdery residue burned out of the silver tarnish.When you remove tarnish you are removing the silver sulfide, so you are removing a very small amount of silver from your piece of jewelry (very small, don’t worry about it)
You may have heard the phrase an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Well this is definitely true when taking care of your Sterling silver jewelry! This is why it is so important to keep your sterling jewelry in a safe place. A dry place like a jewelry box is good, inside an airtight ziploc bag is even better, and an airtight ziploc bag with anti tarnish strips is even better! Anti tarnish strips are little black strips you can keep with your silver jewelry to prevent tarnishing. They work by reacting with or essentially absorbing the hydrogen sulfide before it gets a chance to react with the silver. I have seen sterling pieces kept with an anti tarnish strip in a ziploc bag for decades and looking perfect! Just as good as when they went in, no need to polish or dip the piece, even after decades!For cleaning Sterling Silver with Turquoise, there are a few options. You can dip in Tarnex, but if you do, be very careful, watch it, 30 to 45 seconds is fine, don’t leave it in for over a minute. Tarnex will absolutely damage your turquoise if left to soak in it too long. Remember, Turquoise is a very soft stone, somewhat porous, a harsh chemical can damage it permanently! After a quick dip, rinse thoroughly in water and fully dry. If your turquoise is looking dried out or matte afterwards, try the olive oil trick from above!You can also polish your turquoise and silver jewelry with Wrights silver polish or a similar product. This is a little bit preferable to Tarnex as it is slightly less damaging to the Turquoise. But even in this case, do your best to not get any Wrights on the Turquoise itself if possible. It can damage it if left on too long. When you’re done polishing, rinse with water and use the olive oil trick if needed.Ultimately, do your best to keep harsh chemicals off your Turquoise. Either polishing or cleaning method is fine if done carefully. Prevention is best and easy to do. And now you know how to safely and gently clean and care for your silver and turquoise jewelry pieces!

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