Are Ultrasonic Cleaners Safe For Jewelry? – Test & Results


My girlfriend’s jewelry collection is ever-growing; therefore I thought I show her some love and bought her an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner to bring back the shine of her favorite rings, chains, and earrings.

But are these ultrasonic cleaners for jewelry safe? Since I’m a very technical person with decent knowledge of jewelry, I decided to write a hands-on post about safety and how to DIY clean jewelry using a brand-new portable ultrasonic machine.

Ultrasonic cleaning machines are safe for certain jewelry like gold, silver, stainless steel as well as metal parts, stationery like nibs of fountain pens or toothbrushes, shaving blades as a means of dirt cleaning. However, non-suitable for wood, genuine pearls, leather objects, and more.

To learn more about the essential dos and don’ts when using an ultrasonic cleaner for rings, necklaces, or bracelets, discover the quick essentials below before you accidentally devalue your ring after shopping and wearing it briefly.

How Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaners Work

On one fine Sunday after breakfast with my jewelry craze girlfriend, I took our new portable ultrasonic cleaner for a ride and these are the exact steps and results we got:

Step 1: Get yourself a portable ultrasonic cleaner

It is not necessary to buy an expensive ultrasonic cleaner for hundreds of dollars used by professional jewelry makers and designers.

I got my girlfriend an affordable portable jewelry cleaner at a local retailer that should do the job. You can get yourself one too offline or online for example Amazon.

Step 2: Unpack and install ultrasonic cleaner

Depending on which brand you buy, we got one that comes with 3 different contents:

  • The digital ultrasonic jewelry cleaner machine
  • A basket (holder)
  • CD holder with a distance ring

Once unboxed (see the video) the portable jewelry cleaner was ready to go to work. But before that:

Note: Once unpacked decide which jewelry object you want to clean and how dirty it is because this will determine the cleaning method  (general, basic, or partial cleaning) and necessary time for best results.

Step 3: Portable ultrasonic jewelry cleaning procedure

After you’ve decided which and how many pieces of your precious jewelry collection need a new shinning, it’s time to turn on the ultrasonic machine.

But wait…

An ultrasonic cleaner for jewelry works in a way that you:

  • First, decide on the jewelry object and how many into the cleaner
  • Secondly, insert regular water and a sip of detergent into the stainless steel container
  • Thirdly, power cord with power plug into socket
  • Fourth, switch on the “On” button
  • Fifth, insert the jewelry piece or pieces into the water bath (make sure object is 100% underwater)
  • Sixth, close the lid and start the timer (depending on tarnish or dirt and jewelry object)
  • Seventh, open the lid after ultrasonic cleaning is over (usually hearing a sound “beep” indicator)
  • Eighth, take the accessory item out of the ultrasonic cleaner and dry it gently with a soft cloth

These eight steps of a jewelry cleaning process using an ultrasonic machine should yield you a stunning silver necklace, awesome gold engagement ring, or whatever metal jewelry you choose to ultrasonic clean.

My girlfriend was at least happy seeing her oriental ornamented bracelet back to its glorious days laminating like a night star and the typical green color on metals vanishing.

Note: In case you notice that despite using ultrasonic cleaning your pendant or rings are still not 100% cleaned of dirt, then you may need to repeat the process using the same timer until desired results appear.

Enhanced Cleaning, Cavitation and Ultrasonic Waves Timer

Our machine has a 5-step timer that regulates the intensity of the fine cleaning, ranging from removing light dirt to heavy lifting of lumens and other undesired parts that are otherwise difficult to get rid of by applying other methods. 

Your ultrasonic gadget might have fewer or more cleaning levels. However, I recommend at least 3 timer setting levels for the ultrasonic machine to buy as a means to accomplish cavitation (bubbles formation in a liquid solution).

What is cavitation?

Cavitation is a physics method to effectively deal with otherwise hard-to-remove microorganisms as often attached to the jewelry. A heat wave-pressure velocity that electronically removes organisms while an object is fully under a chemical liquid solution.

In layman terms, cavitation is the process of removing stains and the like gently but effectively from metal or gemstone. E.g. a gold wedding ring or diamond silver earrings using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner, water plus a detergent (liquid solution).

Cleaning Tips: Most effective ultrasonic cleaning procedure

What can you do once you’ve inserted your jewelry, turned on the timer, and out comes a not perfectly glowing sterling silver charm despite applying the correct steps?

In this case, you may want to increase the timer from a minimum of around a minute to either double, triple, or even quadruple the time as we had to do it with one extremely dirty piece of jewelry.

Additionally, make sure to gently clean it with water and a detergent for a sec before you dive it into the digital ultrasonic machine.

In case you are now wondering, but which type of jewelry exactly is suitable to be cleaned with ultrasonic waves and which objects shouldn’t, then I’ve got you covered herein too.

What And What Not To Put In Jewelry Ultrasonic Cleaner

Suitable Jewelry for Ultrasonic Cleaner Non-Suitable Jewelry for Ultrasonic Cleaner
Precious metals (gold, silver, platinum) Tungsten (may damage)
Precious Gems (transparent ruby, sapphire) Emerald and non-transparent precious gems
Semi-precious gems (amethyst, garnet) Genuine Pearls
Glass jewelry Amber
Some costume jewelry* Some costume jewelry
Jewelry with inclusions Jewelry with inclusions**
Transparent diamonds Genuine Pearls, *depending on base material, **depending on gluing

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaning Benefits, Chart, and Test Results

In literature and especially articles from people who haven’t actually tested an ultrasonic jewelry machine you read a lot about which objects are or are not supposed to be used.

Real-life test results

Generally speaking, our tests have nevertheless proved that you can successfully use an ultrasonic cleaner for jewelry pieces containing different metals, gems, and materials.

Precious gemstones and ultrasonic cleaner

The design quality of the item is as important as the material, are our findings here when we conducted an ultrasonic cleaning real-life test.

For example, the ultrasonic cleaner for jewelry is suitable for precious gemstones like sapphire or ruby while not suitable for emerald, though also a precious stone.

This is due to the specific composition of the gemstone. Transparent gemstones from ruby or sapphire may be suitable while at the same time star ruby or sapphire stones are not recommended to be ultrasonically cleaned.

Semi-gemstones and ultrasonic waves cleaning

Other gemstones that were exposed to heating may not be used during an ultrasonic wave cleaning process as they may damage or change their characteristics, like opals, zircon or tanzanite, topaz, and lapis lazuli.

The mounting and setting of the stones on a metal object, as well as the metal coating, are all factors that influence the outcome of the sonic cleaner.

Costume jewelry and ultrasonic cleaning

The theory that you can’t insert costume jewelry into an ultrasonic wave machine isn’t fully true, at least not in our research and test setup we ran. In fact, the manufacturer says metal jewelry is fine.

The caveat is products like popular tungsten bands for him that are not advisable to be inserted into the ultrasonic machine due to their material property. However, stainless necklaces for example can be dived into the ultrasonic cleaning device.

Pros and cons costume jewelry cleaning

The advantage of costume jewelry is of course that they are relatively inexpensive, but indeed you still do not want to damage your favorite neck, finger, or wrist piece, I guess.

The solution then is using your unused or not most favored jewelry box items as guinea pigs.

Next, apply a low ultrasonic timer cleaning rather than a 7minute long thorough wave run (our portable machine auto-adjusts the lowest minutes, mid, high, to highest automatically once the timer button is pressed 1-5 times).

This way you can test and find out if your bracelet is ready to be showcased after being left out for some time due to the dullness developed over time. 

The fact that costume jewelry is affordable unfortunately also makes it easier to wear and tear off than a precious engraved anniversary ring for her or him.

You offset this reality by applying the above-mentioned methods which are working with my girlfriends’ jewelry collection and ultrasonic machine combination just fine.

What Liquid Solution To Use In A Ultrasonic Cleaner

One question you might have in your head or even heard somewhere is that of the liquid that goes into the cleaner itself.

Well, warm water (not hot or cold), a regular detergent is what my ultrasonic cleaner manufacturer recommends, and it’s working. Professional machines though use special chemical liquid solutions for presumably better performance. Honestly, haven’t tried that out yet. It may or may not bear superior results.

Manual Jewelry Cleaning vs Ultrasonic

A manual jewelry cleaning procedure is recommended and safe for all accessory objects that are non-suitable for an ultrasonic cleaner (e.g. impregnated gems, semi-colored diamonds, tungsten metal). On the other, it is suitable to use ultrasonic cleaning machines for precious metals like gold.

Additional benefits of ultrasonic cleaning versus manual scrubbing are:

  • ultrasonic cleaners are faster
  • ultrasonic cleaning is thorougher
  • the high-frequency wave and cleaning is more precise and healthier (anti-skin infection)

Are Ultrasonic Cleaners Safe For Diamonds?

Focal diamonds are generally safe for inserting into an ultrasonic cleaner, however, semi-colored diamonds (aka fancy colored) which are often brown, yellow, blue, or green may not be used in an ultrasonic cleaning machine. Rare pink diamonds though are real 100% and suitable.

How Much Does A Digital Ultrasonic Cleaner For Jewelry Costs?

An ultrasonic jewelry cleaner costs anywhere from $40.00 for mini household machines to under $100.00 for compact midrange semi-professionals up to $250.00 more for professional ultrasonic cleaners. Heating capabilities, tank size, ultrasonic frequency, cleaning cycles functions, and more determine the full price.

Bill Dominic

Bill is an art history and business graduate. Moreover, he loves to test, compare, shop jewelry & fashion items for his 5 sisters, girlfriend, nieces when not enjoying a great novel.

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