The Ionic Way
Never heard of it - or unsure how it works?
First, I will give you a quick run down on using the Ionic system.
It' s pretty easy really. The basic unit, called 100SB, is like a small cauldron. The unit runs on one 9 volt battery, or optional transformer. On the bottom, inside the unit, is a round aluminium plate. This creates a reaction with the solution you pour into the unit.
This solution, called Gem Sparkle, is diluted with water. Only a small amount is mixed with water, typically 1 part Gem Sparkle to 6 parts water.
Once you have this set up you are ready to clean! If you are only cleaning one piece, all you do is to attach it to the unit's crocodile clip. If you have several pieces to clean, you can do them all in one go by placing them in the stainless steel wire basket that now comes with the unit. Although you can fill the basket up with jewellery, I have found, for best results each piece should not touch another.
A little tip, when cleaning the likes of chains, you get best results by dipping section by section into the solution.
When you have everything ready, sit the item or basket in the solution you activate the unit by pressing a little red button on the side of the unit. Remove after whatever time period, rinse thoroughly and dry. That's basically it!
The amount of time to keep an item in the solution depends on a few things. The main point being the type of metal, sterling silver, other silver and base metal takes the least amount of time to clean. An exact time is difficult to pinpoint as it depends on the amount of tarnish or dirt on the piece. The average time is approximately 10 seconds - yes - only 10 seconds. When it comes to sterling silver, you will get different results depending on the content of the silver. Some sterling silver will have nickel, etc...this can result in the "blackening" of a piece. Sort of "antiquing" without trying. You will also get this result if you leave it in the cleaner too long. If you find a sterling silver that does this after following the guildelines above, don't buy from that company again. Hopefully you will have a record of the source. I check jewellery from each manufacturer that I look to purchase from and any that do not pass this test, I do not buy from! It is known that sterling silver from some China based sources can fail this test as they sometimes use inferior quality metals.
Gold items, whether solid, plated, rolled/filled or whatever takes longer. Again, exact time depends on tarnish, etc., the average being 20 seconds.
I have found the best way to approach all cleaning in the unit is to dip, rinse and check every 5 to 10 seconds and repeat as many times as necessary to get the best results.
As I said, there are other factors to consider though if you follow the dip, rinse, dip method you really can't go wrong.
The worst thing to do is thinking that an item is so dirty, I'll leave it in for a minute or two - maybe even 3 minutes. This can result in damage through over exposure. Stick to seconds for each dip.
I have used this method on my jewellery for quite some time now and over time you get to know how long it takes for the various metals and concentrations of tarnish, dirt, etc.,
The results I have experienced on cubic zirconia stones is nothing short of fantastic, what a sparkle they have after cleaning!
I have also cleaned some old and very dirty pieces with good results. Sometimes perfect results are not achievable if an item is so far gone, but certainly far superior results than using many other methods. Ionic cleaning gets into every nook and cranny.
Using this type of unit gives you cleaning and polishing in one easy step. It is a form of electro polishing.
The Ionic system uses polishing agents and gentle soap cleansers to remove tarnish and dirt with a safe bubbling action.
These bubbles are formed by the carefully controlled electrical current that passes through metals reducing surface tension of dirt and floating it and tarnish away - instantly. Restores metal lustre and stone brilliance.
It is a safe cleaner for emeralds, opals, pearls and is an especially good cleaner for diamonds, really makes them sparkle.
The reason it is so good for so many stones is that Gem Sparkle contains no acids or ammonia, it is also odourless.
Using the same solution, you can clean gold, silver, gold-filled and costume jewellery.
Note: I've heard that drusy (quartz crystal) stones should not be cleaned in an ionic cleaner because of their delicate crystal structure.
I haven't tested that theory, but I don't recommend ionic cleaning of drusy unless you can first test a small piece of it that you don't mind messing up if it gets damaged. Always test small items or areas if unsure!
Now, a little more in depth information about the Gem Sparkle solution
Gem Sparkle Concentrate DOES IT ALL!
Concentrated, odourless, this cleaning solution is an effective, fast-acting degreaser, which also removes oxidation and brightens metal to a like-new finish. Gem Sparkle acts as the electrolyte in the ionic cleaning process and can be used repeatedly before it needs to be replaced. Dilution for general cleaning is 1 part Gem Sparkle to 6 parts water.
You will find that Gem Sparkle is an economical, effective cleaning agent. Gem Sparkle Concentrate contains no caustic chemicals or ammonia. It is safe to the user and the environment as a result there are no shipping or movement restrictions.
Basic working of the Ionic system
Speed Brite Cleaners work by electrolysis. Ions are attached to dirt and grease rather than metals and stones. Surface tension is reduced permitting dirt, tarnish and oxidation to be lifted away from jewellery or other metal pieces with gentle bubbles without abrasion. No metal is lost. Stones are safely cleaned without potentially damaging friction, heat or abrasion that other cleaners produce. Rinsing and drying after immersion naturally enhances renewed lustre.
How does it differ from an ultrasonic?
Ultrasonic cleaners use cavitation to bombard items with sound waves. This can be damaging to some stones and can ultimately damage some metals. Ultrasonic cleaners have their place in manufacturing shops, and even there, Speed Brite ionic cleaners are used as the final brightening step in the polishing process. Ionic cleaners are used for ultimate safety in gemstone cleaning.
I hope that helps in de-mystifying the Ionic process.
You can find out more information at Simply Jewelry.