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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/How to remove varnish from Kyanite?


I bought a very expensive kyanite pendant that was dipped in gold. It was an internet purchase and when I received it, I realized the stone had been varnished.

It looks fine in pictures but up close it looks and feels like it is coated in plastic. Although beautiful, the varnish makes it look and feel cheap. Would you have any ideas about how to safely remove the varnish from the kyanite? My concern is what chemicals are safe and which would be harmful, will it rust? I have to get the varnish off, but I'm so afraid to damage the stone.

Thank you for any advice you might be able to offer!

Alison Leigh

Hi Alison,

Good question and not easily answered. First I am concerned why varnish was applied in the first place. It is possible that your kyanite pendant was "brittle" and the varnish is keeping the individual segments and pieces together. By removing this varnish, kyanite fragments might come off.

If this is a water based varnish then soaking it in lukewarm, soapy water (dish soap) for 24hrs might do the trick. Such a water bath is fairly harmless and should not damage anything. You may test if the varnish rubs or peels off after exposure to warm water.

If the varnish is oil based then things get a little trickier. One of the most powerful solvents to remove oil-based varnishes is acetone based nail polish remover. It works very well for all kinds of plastics, glues, and varnishes. Acetone will not damage the stone itself. However, if the stone was affixed to the pendent using some kind of a glue, this glue may dissolve and your kyanite will fall off the pendant part. So you might be careful with that. Also, if the varnish is thick and is not completely removed, the varnish might turn milky and make your pendant look even worse.

You may try some nail polish remover on a q-tip on a small place on your kyanite first to see if it works. If the varnish is thick then repeat applications may be necessary. To process the whole stone you might need to give it repeated acetone baths. Careful! Acetone is extremely flammable.

Another option would be to expose the kyanite to some heat from a paint removal heat gun. Some varnishes start to blister when exposed to heat and can be mechanically removed / peeled off. However, too much heat may cause heat expansion in you rock and may crack it. So be careful with this.

On a side note: If any of these solutions you use for removal are starting to turn blue then you most likely have a fake "blue colored" kyanite and you are starting to remove the blue dye used to give the rock the blue color. I sure hope this is not the case.

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Uwe Richard Kackstaetter, Ph.D. (Dr.K)


I can answer questions concerning minerals, mineralogy, gems, metals, and anything that has to do with geology. However, I am NOT a jeweler. Questions about values, settings, gem stone cuts and appraisals are best directed to other experts on this site. I can however aide in the identification of unknown mineral materials. As a public service and part as training for new geoscientists, our university department provides FREE mineral identification for individuals. Please contact me for details or go to for details..


I am a professor of applied geology and mineralogy with many hours of field experience. Furthermore, I enjoy recreational gold prospecting and mineral collecting. As a professor I am engaged in research concerning minerals and their occurrence.

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Here is a small sampling: Mineral-rock handbook: Rapid-easy mineral-rock determination : written for anyone interested in minerals and rocks - Proctor, Peterson, and Kackstaetter;Macmillan Pub. Co. (New York and Toronto and New York) Physical Geology Laboratory e-Manual [CD-ROM], Kackstaetter, Earth Science Education LLC Colorado Front Range Self-guided Geology Field Trips, Kackstaetter,

Ph.D. in Applied Geology and Mineralogy. I am actively teaching courses in mineralogy and a variety of field courses with mineral collecting opportunities. Background in precious metal exploration.

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