With the cold snap that many of us are feeling this week, my frozen fingers decided to type about how the cold can affect colored stone jewelry. There are some things to consider when the thermometer drops so low.
So, what can happen? Gemstones are rocks, minerals, right? Generally speaking, you don’t have too much to worry about. But in an abundance of caution, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Gemstones can be sensitive to rapid temperature changes, whether cold or hot. This is called thermal shock. Some gemstones are structurally fragile. Other gemstones contain inclusions that do not fare well in sustained exposure to CCCCOOOLLLLDDD temperatures, or rapid transitions from hot to cold.
The best (or worst) example of this occurs with opals that are comprised (chemically) of up to 30% of water. Opals can crack (craze) when one exposes them to extreme cold. Likewise, certain corundum (rubies and sapphires) with inclusions can suffer in the cold weather.
Here is a short list of gemstones that you should protect from thermal shock, arranged from highest risk to lowest:
Obviously, a few seconds in the cold should not have an effect on your colored stone jewelry. But if you expect to spend prolonged periods out and about, consider keeping your pendants under your shirt and coat, your bracelets tucked up in your sleeves, and your rings inside toasty warm gloves.