Thursday, March 24, 2011

cloudy amber jewellery


When I was growing up and hung out in forests in southern Ontario, I sometimes saw resin dribbled down the bark of pine trees. The resin was clear and yellow and sticky. It stayed clear and yellow and sticky even when it rained.
I don't know what happens in the stage between resin becoming amber so that you can't get amber wet. I bought myself a beautiful amber ring a week ago. I wore it one evening and the next day noticed that the amber looked smudged. I tried to clean it but nothing worked. I finally looked on the Net and found innumerable smart-ass sources warning me not to get amber wet. Amber + water = turbid. Maybe the jeweller could have let me know. I hadn't done the dishes or anything like that. I'd just... washed my hands at some point.
How could I restore it? Searches revealed ever more warnings about getting amber wet. Thanks. Also lots of self-help medical sites on what it means if your urine is cloudy amber in colour. I had to read through a few sites on the properties of amber before I found a line suggesting that an oil bath would help. "The oil fills the numerous pores to which the turbidity is due." (Cf Wikipedia.)
I've had my ring soaking in almond oil for 4 days now. It doesn't look 100% new, but almost all the cloudiness is gone. I'm posting this so that the next person who wants to undo the damage of amber + water might not have to look so long. I used almond oil because sites on cleaning amber--without water--suggested almond oil.

73 comments:

  1. I'm glad the lustre is returning, Alice.

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  2. A week later: the oil bath is only partly effective. At a glance the ring looks all right, but that lovely deep amber shine is gone. I'll take the ring back to the jeweller to see if he can rebuff it.

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  3. Hi Alice, was wondering how you got on with the amber ring? I too had this problem, I put my amber pendant into water for a couple of days!!! I was cleansing it as I do with my other crystals, but was just not thinking that of course it's not a mineral it's organic resin... And yes, it came out cloudy, was devastated, a really dear gift, have had it years, worn it all over the place, and never had reason to think water would have this effect. Anyway, good news to end, after trawling the net, a tiny bit of toothpaste was the solution (I use Kingfisher Natural Fennel). Buffed it up with half a small pea size with a bit of toilet tissue, several times, all over. The secret is the buffing I think as much as the paste, quick, small buffs, fast... Not really a rub, if you see what I mean. I finished by smearing a small bit once again over the entire stone and let it dry out for 5 mins or so, then buffed again. Finally that beautiful shine was back.

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  4. Wendy, this is very exciting news! I have to admit that I'm not entirely happy with my almond oil solution. Indeed, it restored the shine. But not the full, rich lustre of the amber. I'm afraid to wear the ring since I can never guarantee that I'll remember to take it off before I wash my hands. I won't be able to buy Kingfisher brand in Canada, but I'll try another natural toothpaste. I'll let you know. Thanks for posting this.

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  5. Wendy, I don't know if you'll ever stray this way again, but I tried natural toothpaste and it works beautifully. I used a soft cloth instead of tissue (in the event that paper would leave scratch marks). I can wear my ring again without worrying that I'll accidentally get it wet. I wrote a new post on cleaning amber and acknowledged your input.

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  6. Alice, I'm in Canada too and have just bought beautiful lime amber earrings... now cloudy. What toothpaste did you use?

    Thank you!

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  7. I think almost any toothpaste will clean amber, but I'd hesitate to use a commercial brand with more abrasives in it. (Can you imagine polishing the amber only to scratch it?) I bought "Green Beaver" brand at a health food store.
    Lime amber sounds gorgeous.

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  8. THANK YOU! I'll get it tonight! I've been extremely disappointed in the cloudiness and had NO idea I couldn't wear them in the shower or clean them with normal jewelry cleaner (no wonder they clouded so fast!)

    Thank you - I'll definately be doing this tonight! Did you let the toothpaste sit on it at all, or just buffed/cleaned it and removed it?

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  9. I let the amber sit until the toothpaste dried.

    I know I was devastated when my amber turned cloudy.

    You're very welcome, Anon.

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  10. This is a great blog to visit.

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  11. Hi Alice,
    hehehe, so nice that you tried and it worked! Lovely to share and find a solution to things, i remember how relieved I was, and so happy... don't know what brought me here today, but lovely to see the comments. Hello to you in Canada, i'm in the UK.

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  12. Thanks guys! So much for 'cleaning'. I almost ruined my brand new ring! I just used regular toothpaste and a q tip, then wiped the dry toothpaste away with a bit of vegitable oil on a soft cloth, looks like new!

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  13. Thanks for this great information. I have a amber necklace which has also gone cloudy as I had it on in the swimming pool.Why on earth do the jewellers not let you know this when purchased. I will get on to the toothpaste. Here's hoping.

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    1. Best of luck! I actually returned to the store where I bought my ring and asked why they hadn't forewarned me. They said they didn't know. ???? They also offered to rebuff the ring if it happened again, so that's always an option.
      I'm wondering if not all kinds of amber get cloudy. I have an antique silver bracelet set with amber--I'm positive it's real amber but I've gotten wet any number of times with no problem. The mysteries of amber...

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  14. Thank you Alice, Wendy, everyone! Great solution to my long time worry. I have a Baltic amber pendant, which was a gift from my mom. It was very special to me, and i wore it most of the time for the last few years. Never knew that it wasn't supposed to get wet, so i took showers in it. It got dull pretty fast, and my attempts to buff it off didn't amount to any results. I knew not to use any cleaners on it though, but your method of using toothpaste worked! I just finished polishing my pendant, and it looks gorgeous, luster is beautiful, like new. I can't beleive how wonderful it came out. I had no hopes for it, but the peice was so dear to me, that i kept wearing it anyway. I used my regular toothpaste, i was too exited to waste any time looking for some special kind, and a wash cloth to polish my amber. The results are great, many thanks to you. I think i have a blister from the friction-generated heat on my tumb. ;) Oh well... it was worth it.

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    1. Great, Irina! And actually--I've noticed that, since the first time I cleaned my ring with toothpaste, I haven't had any problems with it, even when I accidentally got it wet.

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  15. I havent tried toothpaste , but polished my amber pendant with turtle wax , and buffed it up with to
    a shine using a nail buffer . The wax helps to repel the water when it gets wet. The buffer is made of a rubber, with no grit to it. A leather buffer or just rubbing amber on a leather or suede swatch works as well.

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    1. Turtle wax, eh? I like the idea that wax repels water.
      Thanks!

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  16. The reason why your amber got tarnished wan't because of water. Don't forget that amber is actually found in the sea, therefore it can't be the water's fault but the soaps you use which are high in chemicals, perfumes and other unnatural things that destroy the amber. As for the person who wore it in a pool full of chlorine, its just common sense you don't wear any jewellery while swimming without expecting it to go cloudy.
    As for using toothpaste, it works on a number of things not just amber.
    http://lifehacker.com/5939760/use-toothpaste-to-polish-silver

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    1. Way back when, when I was trying to discover why my amber ring had lost its shine, I read a pseudo-scientific article that targeted water as the culprit. I vowed never again to let the ring get wet--which isn't easy in a society where one is always washing hands. It's not always convenient to take rings off in a public place and perhaps forget them on the sink. However, as much as possible, I've tried to protect the ring.
      Interestingly, I noticed that the amber ring stayed clear since that first toothpaste polish, even though it sometimes gets splashed. I have an amber bracelet, too, where the amber never suffered from the occasional accidental contact with water.
      The above comment--most informative--led to further research and an experiment. Fingers crossed, I set my amber ring in a dish of water for a few hours. It is fine.
      So amber *can* get wet--with water. Soaps etc to be avoided.
      In the event of amber turning cloudy or turbid, toothpaste still comes to the rescue--though I would still caution against using the commercial brands with whiteners and too many chemicals. They're surely as bad as soap. And as AmberCentreLondon says, toothpaste polishes silver nicely as well.

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  17. Thank you so much everyone for your tips and advice on restoring amber jewellery. I've just returned from France where I was given a gift of an amber ring. It's a very unusual piece with three colours of amber set together and I forgot I was still wearing it when visiting hospital. I don't know if it was the alcohol rub, or the liquid soap in the hospital, but it immediately clouded over. To say I was devastated is an understatement. On reading your article, I immediately dived into the bathroom and grabbed the toothpaste tube (Colgate sensitive) and started buffing away for all I was worth. What a fantastic result! I cannot thank you guys enough. I thought I had lost it.
    Irene

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    1. Your ring sounds lovely, Irene. I'm glad it's been restored.

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  18. Thanks a million from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    Thanks a million Alice Zorn. You've just made my day ; ) . I have three amber rings (Clear Yellow, Orange with fossils & Cloudy lemon) which all got back to mint condition after I lost hope in all three, thanks to you & your brilliant tooth-paste method. I have a very expensive & hard to find Islamic rosary that I intend to polish to using this brilliant method. All I need is a "polish-gun" & some tooth-paste & polishing out the beads.

    yours sincerely.

    Mohammad.

    Jeddah, KSA.

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  19. Thank you, Mohammad. Glad you saved your amber. Although I should point out that the toothpaste wasn't originally my idea. Wendy suggested it. Whoever/however pass on the word.

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  20. And another big THANK YOU! Like so many, I wore my amber pendent all the time, mainly because the catch on the necklace is not very easy to keep undoing....so I left it on all the time. I stopped wearing it because it looked so dull, three minutes ago I googled 'how to clean amber' and now it is nearly back to when I bought it.....

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  21. Great idea. Thanks for sharing nice information with us. Amber jewelry is simple to clean but it is very important not to get it wet, as water turns amber cloudy. If you want to get more collection about amber colored stones then go to here www.drfinejewels.com

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  22. just want to thank all for the very helpful info! Amber is not found in the sea, as a previous poster claimed, but is the fossilized resin of long-dead trees... At any rate my butter-amber pendant now glows once again, thanks to you!

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    1. Amber IS found from the sea. Baltic Sea, to be precise. It is fossilized resin from pine and fir trees, dead and layered at the bottom of the sea about 20 - 100 millions of years ago.
      It is not mined, but dug/drilled from the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Sometimes chunks of it wash upon the shores of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Russia.
      I thought this was common knowledge - first time ever when I have read claims that amber would be water soluble... Treat it like you would treat pearls - another living gift from the waters!

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  23. Butter amber... sounds lovely. Happy for you.

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  24. Thanks for all your advice my ring is almost as good as new again x

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  25. Just finished polishing my amber ring with toothpaste. Sooo glad I found this. I thought I had scuffed my ring, it was so bad. but now it's perfect again, and the silver really shines too! Thanks so much for this! ( by the way, The Amber Centre is correct... amber is found in the oceans. search Baltic Amber for more info. I might go trolling for amber next time i go sea glass hunting.

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    1. Thank you, Dee. And you're right. The toothpaste polishes the silver too. That's what I always use now.

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  26. I can see that you are an expert at your field! I am launching a website soon, and your information will be very useful for me.. Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.
    CRYSTALS BY SWAROVSKI

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  27. Just going to try this now, 3.am Liverpool, so glad I could not sleep

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  28. Hello - great to find this post. I took a neclace and earring which are silver with amber stones to a jeweller in the market to clean for me in his machine.

    Most things he cleaned came back fine but the stones in the neclace look terrible now. Dark, cloudy and really messed up. The earrings look fine - I think he must have seen what happened to the neclace and done those by hand!

    My question is this: do you recommend soaking in oil as you did at first before trying the toothpaste, or just going straight to the toothpaste polish now?

    Thank you so much!

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    1. Hi Anon,
      Now I just use toothpaste, which I still do every now and then to polish the amber and the silver. It seems to have worked for others. It should work for you.

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  29. however it was another joy to see It is such an important topic and ignored by so many, even professionals.
    www.wdrp.com

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  30. Very nice I accept as true with your thoughts. Many thanks a great deal I’ve benefited therefore usually I’ll visit your website.

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  31. Thank you from Finland, worked like a dream! ♥

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    1. Thanks, Anna-Mari, for telling me where you wrote from. I like to know that--and am happy that I'm helping people save their amber jewellery!

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    2. Hehe, I thought it might be a fun thing to know. :) I have a beautiful old amber ring and I am so happy to know I can wear it and wash my hands without being scared of ruining the amber for ever! It has even taken the water well now after polishing it with toothpaste, no clouding effect yet at all! Although I do take it off when using soap.

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    3. Hehe, Anna-Mari, I'm really glad you let me know toothpaste saved your ring. Me, too, I'm still careful when I wear my ring, but it helps to have toothpaste as a backup. And as someone helpfully said in a comment higher up, toothpaste is great for cleaning silver as well.

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  32. I have just ordered 3 Amber beads for my pandora bracelet and a pair of Amber earrings- I never thought about getting them wet!! I never take my bracelet or earrings off. Hope they'll be ok.

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  33. Just put my large amber pendant in jewelry cleaner. So cloudy. Can't wait to try some toothpaste . . .

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  34. Hi, I was relieved to find this site! What I'd like to know is what kind of toothpaste everyone is using. I don't really have access to organic toothpaste, or whatever. Also, how much do you use? And I tried colgate but it never hardened. So how long do you wait? Blessings!

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    1. I used an organic toothpaste because I didn't know what potentially harmful ingredients or abrasives there would be in commercial toothpaste. I only made a thin film of toothpaste over the amber. I let it sit for a day. Putting it in the sun might help your toothpaste harden.
      I wish you luck. I'm glad the toothpaste has helped so many people!

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    2. Alice, thank you so much! I tried this with a whitening toothpaste (all I had, so I used a teeny amount). Holy cow, it really works! So then I went for it and used more and left it on for a day as you recommended. I am so happy, I didn't think I'd see this beautiful shine again. I buffed it with a chamois and will try the wax thing too. MANY thanks!

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    3. Glad to hear this! Thanks for letting me know.

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  35. Does anyone know of a way to restore heat damaged amber? I foolishly wrapped a long amber necklace around a table lamp, and didn't realize until some time later that the heat from the lightbulb damaged the surface of several of the amber beads. Does anyone knows if the beads can be restored in this instance? The size of the beads range in size from 1/2 inch to 1 and 1/2 inch. Under magnification it looks like the amber is badly scratched. I tried the toothpaste technique and it doesn't work, nor does the Turtle Wax. I even tried to rebuff a small section of one bead myself using a buffer tool on my Dremel but it only scratched it more. What a mess.

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    1. Sorry, I don't know. Have you asked a jeweller?

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    2. Thank you for your response. I did inquire at one store that sold stones and gems and such but they knew even less than I. I haven't asked a real jeweller yet but I will. I did try the olive oil technique and that did revive it somewhat, but of course didn't mend the heat damage. If I discover or learn of some worthwhile fix I will be sure to pass it on. Thanks again for listening.

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    3. Please let me know if you find a way to restore the heat damage. I'm curious. I didn't know amber was sensitive to heat. I suggested a jeweller, because when I first noticed that my amber was cloudy, I returned to the jeweller where I'd bought it. He said he could buff it.
      It would be interesting to find someone who worked with amber and might know what to do...

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  36. I have used a nail buffer with good success for dull amber

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    1. Sounds like a good idea. I don't have a nail buffer so it wouldn't have occurred to me.

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  37. Dear Alice and the rest! I am so happy I found this conversation. The combination of toothpaste and oil helped to restore my damaged amber jewelry thought not to 100%. I also ruined some of them with the hot water and can't wait until someone shares info on reviving heat damage amber. Again, thank you so very much.

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  38. Thank you, Anara, for telling us! I don't know how much your amber has been damaged by heat, but have you tried asking a jeweller if he or she can polish it with their tools? I would try that before giving up. Or in the comment above yours, someone suggests a nail buffer. It's worth trying. Good luck!

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  39. Loose Baltic amber is not just important because of its history and quality but because of its terrific healing properties.

    Baltic amber pendant

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  40. Hello I have want more type of jewelry for me, I have look a new least stylish necklaces.
    amber teething necklaces

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  41. Thank you girls sooo much!! I had no idea to use toothpaste. I bought an antique Amber ring from an antique store a few years ago. It was a little cloudy when I bought it but it was soo pretty. I just cleaned it unjust cleaned it w my toothpaste and it looks so beautiful! I can wear it again!!! Yay! I was cleaning it in sterling silver cleaner because it's set in sterling silver. No wonder it got so cloudy!! Thanks again!!

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    1. Very happy for you, Kathy! Thanks for letting me know.

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  42. This shout-out is coming from Canada. As with so many others who have posted, I had given up on ever having that beautiful shine to my Baltic amber pendant again. Purely by accident, I stumbled across your site (serendipity!). It worked like a charm! Took a lot of buffing as this had been given to my by my mother-in-law who had it for many years previous and doubt it had ever been polished. Sure shines now, though! Thank you! Thank you!! Also ... when my husband was a young boy, he and his parents went to Denmark and he found a couple of small pieces of amber ... at the beach ... in the water ...

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    1. You're very welcome! I'm happy to read that your pendant shines again.
      I'm not scientifically-minded, so I don't understand the relationship between amber and water. I know it can be found in the water--but it's only when my amber gets wet that it turns dull. ????
      By the way, I'm in Canada too. Montreal.

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    2. Vancouver Island here, :) My eldest son moved to Montreal a few years ago. Loves it there.

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    3. The from ne Montana I,too,am so Thankful for running across your website. I will be trying the methods you suggested.thanks

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  43. Thank you so much for this post. I was searching for a way to clean amber, came across this and am so thankful I did. The toothpaste was just the trick. I will never clean amber another way, and certainly not the way I tried to that clouded it up to begin with (don't ask). Thank you!

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    1. I won't ask but I would like to know...?
      I'm glad the toothpaste helped.
      Thanks for telling me.

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  44. I am so glad I came across this site. I have several pairs of earrings, and a large stone in a necklace. The settings are silver, and were in need of cleaning. I did - silly me - what I usually do, and used a cleaner which did harm to one pair of my earrings. Glad I only cleaned one pair, when I saw the result I stopped. Of course I damaged one my fav's -- got cloudy and feels sticky. I will try the toothpaste remedy. However the Turtle Wax idea sounds good also. I will try the toothpaste.

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    1. Thanks, Margaret, but listen, before you give up on the earrings that you damaged, take them to a jeweller to see if they can be rebuffed. Sometimes it can be done. Good luck!

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  45. Thanks this helped restored my amber

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