Ultrasonic Cleaners: When not to use them

Ultrasonic cleaners may be praised for their quick and easy removal of dirt on your jewelry, but unfortunately not all jewelry can handle the effects of the sound waves the machine uses to break down dirt particles which have accumulated on the surface. Here’s what you should know before popping all your beloved sparkle into one.


Diamonds may be known for their hardness, but their inherent inclusions put them at risk when subjected to the sound waves of an ultrasonic cleaner. The ultrasound vibrations can not only enlarge inclusions, weakening the diamond, but can even cause the stone to break along them.

Colored diamonds are at risk in ultrasonic cleaners for another reason. As most of these diamond specimens have been heat-treated to enhance their hue, ultrasonic cleaning can potentially reverse this effect, reducing the vividness of the stone’s color.

Certain gemstones, like emeralds, naturally have a lot of inclusions. These stones are therefore frequently treated to improve their overall appearance. Fracture filling or oiling are generally accepted examples of treatment. Ultrasonic cleaners, as previously mentioned, can enlarge inclusions and will dissolve oil – resulting in potential cracks in the stone. Other delicate gemstones to keep away from an ultrasonic cleaner include peridot, tanzanite and tourmaline.

Tungsten, like diamond, may be revered for its durability, but interestingly the process of ultrasonic cleaning can damage this otherwise hardy metal. Because tungsten is a ceramic-like substance, it cannot be bent, but pressure like that exerted by an ultrasonic cleaner can cause microscopic fractures in the metal.

While other stones and metals can be safely cleaned by ultrasonic cleaners, many jewelry pieces feature a mix of stones and metals which could potentially be damaged by the cleaner’s sound waves. To prevent irreversible damage, make sure you ask your jeweler if an ultrasonic cleaner is suitable for your favorite sparkle.

Need a homemade cleaner for your jewelry? Read our cleaning tips here.

(image: source)

Do you own an ultrasonic cleaner? What jewelry do you use it to clean?

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