When you start a collection of crystals, you will need to know how to care for them and keep them in pristine condition. In order to do this, you should understand the differences in quality between types of gemstones.
You may think that all crystals are as hard as stone, but crystals actually range from the very soft such as selenite, which is soft enough to scratch with your fingernail, to the very hard such as diamond, which cuts through most substances.
Understanding this variance between crystals is important when it comes to storing them. Always take care to check the individual hardness of stones to prevent softer crystals becoming scratched by friction against harder ones. If you do store all your crystals in the same place, it is worth investing in some small pouches or pieces of silk to keep them individually wrapped and protected from scratches.
Crystals needing special care
Certain crystals are more easily damaged than others and so require special care.
this is easily scratched and should be stored in a soft material such as silk or velvet. To clean amber, use a mild soap and lukewarm water and polish it dry with a soft cloth. Rubbing it with virgin olive oil also helps to restore lost lustre.
These contain up to 10 per cent water and should not be kept near heat sources, which can cause them to crack, or in dry places as this will cause them to lose their colour. Store opals in a small container of water.
These contain up to 2 per cent water and, like opals, must not be kept near heat. Do not expose them to acidic liquids such as vinegar or red wine as this causes them to dissolve.
Caring for your Crystals
Following these basic guidelines when you clean and store your crystals will ensure that they are kept in the best possible condition.
You should avoid storing your crystals in air-tight plastic or polythene bags. Such a sterile environment can have a negative effect on their vibrational energy and, in some cases, cause their colour to fade.
Silk is the ideal material in which to store crystals as it is natural and non-abrasive. It is also believed to be the best insulator of charge, that is, it prevents the energies you put into a crystal from dissipating.
Conditions to avoid
There are certain conditions in which you should avoid storing your crystals.
- Do not expose crystals to extreme temperatures of heat or cold as this can damage them
- Photosensitive gems should never be left in direct, bright light.
- Avoid contact with chemicals such as hair sprays and perfumes.
Crystals can be cleaned under flowing water, although mineral water is preferable to tap water. The water should be at room temperature as sudden changes in temperature can cause stones to crack if they already have a weak point in their structure.
- Soap should only be used if it is completely natural and only for removing the most stubborn dirt.
- An old toothbrush is ideal for gently rubbing off grime and dirt from stones.
- Soaps and detergents should not be used on pearls as this causes them to lose their lustre. To clean pearls, cover them in potato flour and then rinse with water.
- Clean crystals separately.
Your Guide to the Hardness of Crystals
The hardness of a crystal is determined by its resistance to scratching when another substance is drawn across it - a substance will only be scratched by a substance with a greater hardness. Mineral hardness is measured on a decimal scale known as the Mohs Scale, 10 being diamond and 1 being talc. The difference between units on this scale is not proportional. For example, diamond is 120 times harder than ruby (9), but 4 millions times harder than talc (1).
Fluorite, malachite, Pearl
Apatite, lapis lazuli, obsidian, opal, turquoise
Agate, carnelian, garnet, hematite, jade, jasper, labradorite, moonstone, pyrite
Onyx, peridot, quartz, tiger's eye, tourmaline