I purchased my ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, but before I did so, I did some research. Here is what I found out.
How Do Ultrasonic Cleaners For Jewelry Work?
Before I purchased my ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, I did some research. I wanted to know how they worked if they worked, and what you could put in them. I can share with you what I found out, and the do's and don’ts of cleaning.
Ultrasonic cleaning reaches into small cracks and crevices and lifts dirt, grime, and oil away. The machines produce micro-bubbles by creating bursts of positive and negative waves in the water. The pressure from the waves causes the bubbles to grow, and once the bubbles reach a certain size, they collapse. When the bubble collapses, energy releases from it. When the bubble collides with the jewelry, the power is released, knocking the debris loose. It is a combination of heat, pressure, and force that work together to clean out the nooks and crevices. Once the machine stops, and the solution stops moving, the grime will settle, and the oils will float on top.
Are Ultrasonic Cleaners Safe for Diamonds?
Yes. Ultrasonic cleaners are safe for diamond rings and other diamond jewelry. Diamonds are extremely hard. They have the highest rating on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Diamonds are rated a 10, which is the highest rating.
Cubic zirconia, CZ rings, or CZ stones can safely be cleaned with an ultrasonic cleaner. This stones Mohs rating is 8 to 8.5. Hard stones cleanup well. Other examples of hard stones are sapphires, garnets, rubies, and topaz.
Precious metals such as gold, white gold, silver, and platinum are safe to clean. Glass, plastic, and Pandora type charms are fine as long as the bracelet does not have any leather on it. More on that on the next segment.
What Not to Put in the Machine
It is not a good idea to put any jewelry that has a loose setting in it because the waves may knock them free.
Diamonds that have been artificially colored and treated may not fair well in the machine. Color-treated diamonds have a coating that brings out color while hiding flaws. The coating is a thin layer of a plastic solution or certain chemicals can be used to create the effect. The process is labeled as HPHT, which stands for High-Pressure, High-Temperature. Some of the colors produced are yellow, green, blue, and pink. Naturally occurring colored diamonds do exist. However, they are extremely rare and extremely expensive.
Even though emeralds are a reasonably hard gem (they are rated 7.5 to 8 on the Mohs scale), they should not be put in the cleaner. Emeralds are full of tiny fractures, and the vibrations from the cleaner can crack the fractures further and weaken the stone. It is probably best just to gently wash and wipe emeralds.
Amethyst can be filled with cracks. So you may want to have a jeweler take a look at your amethyst stones and advise you whether or not it is safe to put them in.
Do not put leather in it. Soft stones and gems should not be put in the cleaner. For example, opals, pearls, mother of pearl, turquoise, amber, coral, onyx, and obsidian. Watch the video below on how to clean nature gems like pearls.
How to Clean Pearls
Will It Work on Silver?
This was one of the most interesting facts I found out. Ultrasonic cleaners only remove oil and dirt. They do not remove tarnish. So technically, yes, the cleaner can clean the silver, but it cannot remove tarnish. Tarnish is a chemical reaction on silver that needs to be polished away. I can tell you shiny silver bracelets clean up nicely.
I have an update on cleaning silver jewelry. After you remove the tarnish and you have cleaned the silver jewelry, store them in specially designed baggies to help prevent them from becoming tarnished again. Then I just clean them in the sonic cleaner from time to time. It is a lot easier to maintain them.
The silver jewelry baggies I use do corrosion intercepting. They work really well. The bracelet and charms have not tarnished since I have started keeping them in the baggies. Bonus: the gold coloring backing the bag turns black when the bag can no longer protect the jewels from tarnish. A chemical process is being prevented from happening with the substance in the baggies. It is nontoxic.
What Liquid or Solutions Can You Use?
I chose a water ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. I did not want to have to buy anything extra, and water is pure, no chemicals, but I still have the option of adding in an extra cleaner if I need to. The cleaners do not have to be anything special or expensive.
An additional helper you can add is dish soap. It’s cheap (just use one or two drops), everybody has it, and it’s great for busting up grease. Give everything a quick rinse when you pull it out of the machine.
I have not tried ammonium or vinegar. Consult your instructions.
How Long Should You Leave the Jewelry in?
The first one I purchased had five different timer settings from 90 seconds (Yes, seconds!) to 8 minutes. The five settings are 90 seconds, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 6 minutes, and 8 minutes. The manufacture’s standard setting is 3 minutes or 180 seconds. It seems to work fine, but you can always spin it again if it is not clean. The second one I purchased (notes below) started at 5 minutes and could run all the way to 25 minutes.
An important thing to note is after it is finished, you need to let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes. This gives time to let the dirt and grime to settle.
To my surprise, there are many other things you can throw in there. They just have to fit in the basket and be of acceptable material. Eyeglasses, sunglasses, waterproof watches, combs, electric shaver heads, toothbrushes, dentures, razor blades, coins.
After experiencing how easy, fast, and the fantastic cleaning job they do, I got a large ultrasonic cleaner. My original one held 20 ounces or 600 MLS. It measures 5 1/2 inches long by 4 inches wide by 2 inches high. My large capacity one, which I use for a lot more than jewelry and it is way more roomier, holds 84 ounces or 2.5 liters. It measures 9 1/2 inches long by 6 inches wide by 3 inches high. As I mentioned earlier, the timer starts at 5 minutes and can go up to a blasting 25 minutes.
I love them because they clean so easily. Once you start cleaning things with them, you’ll find tons of things to put in them. The fact that you don’t need any chemicals or cleaners is an added bonus.
Jewelry Steam Cleaner Vs. Ultrasonics
Steam is water that has been heated until it becomes pressurized. The steam forces and blasts the dirt and oils away. Steam will leave your jewelry sparkly clean, and it does not use any harmful chemicals. It is a “green” way to clean.
Questions & Answers
Question: Is it ok to put white sapphire rings in the ultrasonic cleaner? I'm having the worst time getting it clean!
Answer: I would check with a jeweler because some of them may be heat-treated which may change their hardness. Hope that helps.
© 2018 Lora Riley
Billie Jones from Sydney on May 15, 2019:
I have some doubts about Ultrasonic Cleaners being safe and effective. When reading it “reaches into small cracks” – I was shocked. I understand it was said about the dirty, not about the material. However, I can stop making an analogy and questioning its effect on gold, aurum, and diamonds. It should be a quite challenging experience. I would not risk, especially with the wedding rings like https://www.gsdiamonds.com.au/wedding-rings/ I am going to wear during my whole life. Sure, I know that the wedding rings require thorough cleaning but it is better to look for safer ways. Who has used this mega cleaner? Could you share your feedback?