Confused about "Gem Cloth"

Hi everyone.

I feel so stupid for asking this question! But I am so very confused…

Simply put, what do people mean when they say “Gem Cloth”?

Is it the type that is meant to polish gem stones?

Or is it simply a soft untreated cloth meant to wipe away fingerprints and such?

I just received my jewelers loupe and some gems stones to start studying, and I want to wipe them clean so I can inspect them better. But I cannot figure out for the life of me what type of cloth is best to use just for wiping fingerprints and small debris away!

I have plenty of microfiber cloths around for gadgets and my photography equipment, etc. Are those okay to use on 6-7+ Mohs scale gems?

Or do I need a special type? I read someone about getting “100% cotton, untreated, soft cloth” to use.

Could someone please guide me in the right direction?

Knee slapper for sure…


Hey Patrick -

I think it’s a totally reasonable question, and to be honest, the answer is not as straightforward as you may think! Very coincidentally, I’ve just undertaken a very large project to re-organize the content on IGS, and to also augment certain topics where necessary with comprehensive information. I actually noticed that the Cleaning of Gemstones was a gap in the available information, so I added and edited an article by Gerry Wykoff from our founder Don Clark’s archives. Scroll to the middle of the article and you will find a table that I added which lists stones and stone families, and recommends how they should/can be cleaned or wiped.

Long story short, virtually all gemstones will respond nicely to the careful application of warm water-detergent-soft brush. But there are some that take special attention (see the table in the article). A clean microfiber cloth is more than sufficient for almost all applications.

Thank you for the excellent response! And thanks for the new addition to the info. Very helpful

I have also used bird’seye cotton diapers, well washed. These are VERY soft, and can be cut into usable size-- about 4"x3". I don’t use any brush bigger than a very soft camel hair artist’s brush, and I never use a toothpick to clean around prongs in settings. Regular care prevents crud around settings.
Wipe pearls and amber with a soft cloth, and store them in individual velveteen bags. Pieces on display should be in suspension boxes, Riker mounts or secure gem display boxes.
I did carry a large jewelry wardrobe on a trip, and I packed each pearl strand in baby socks!

I use dawn, warm water and a very soft babies tooth brush for cleaning. Some folk like steamers and/or ultrasonic cleaners, but, I tend to hesitate primarily because a lot of the stones I work with have great cleavage planes.

any cloth that is used must be clean, basic house dust has a strong quartz component, so it will be detrimental to all stones softer than MOHS 7.


I really like the article about cleaning gemstones! This is the kind of info that should be printed out and kept handy. I’ve done just that-- it’s part of my reference library. Hard copy, three-hole punch, notebook. It’s the kind of info I would print on cardstock and put into Mylar page protectors.