Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/melting gem stones


I read another question about melting stones to make a bigger one and it was interesting.  My question is more to do with house fires.  I've recently started collecting gem stones and if by chance I had a house fire how would the stones fair?
Thank you for any advice you can give.

Dear Marla,

Keep in mind:
1.Resistance to heat damage varies greatly depending on the kind of gemstone and a few other factors. 2.Changes within a gemstone due to fire are unpredictable depending on temperatures reached, how long damaging temperature is sustained and factors contributing to sudden or quick and extreme changes in temperature.

Estimates of typical house fire temperatures  range from 1000f to a high of 1800f; the range includes melting points of typical jewelry solders used in construction and repair of jewelry.  Damage to jewelry is very likely and smoke damage from fire residue baked onto gems and metals is often problematic to remove without damage to some gem materials.

Of more commonly encountered gems, jewelers generally consider diamond, ruby and sapphire to be the ones able to withstand the heat of soldering(as during repair) and other gems should be removed or otherwise isolated to prevent damage from the heat of a torch during repair work.

As an ice cube may crack when put into a glass of water, so may gemstones crack or fracture when heat changes suddenly.  A garnet may be heated gently to a higher heat without cracking; sudden application of a hot flame may cause the gem to break throughout and sudden cooling is guaranteed to break the stone.  While heat is used to alter color and other characteristics of gems prior to going to market, the process is monitored carefully and changes in temperature are carefully controlled. Careful control is not an aspect of a wild fire!  A flow of water used to fight a fire may easily cause the sudden change in temperature which will crack and destroy a gemstone.  

Many gemstones will be permanently changed by exposure to heat and gaseous materials present in a house fire.  

A safe will protect only so far as the safe is rated for fire.  

I have cleaned many jewelry items from house fires. The greatest sustained damage was to the metal and construction of jewelry items, rendering the jewelry unwearable even if cleaned of fire residue.  Pearls, opals, emerald and turquoise are virtually beyond reclamation.

Marla, each gemstone reacts differently because they are made of different compositions, some are heat treated for color improvement before sold to the public, some contain internal flaws which turn into fractures when exposed to heat, some loose color, some are not affected and are ok after cleaning.
In the end, most gemstones are damaged by house fire.

There you are.  God Bless and Peace.  Thomas  

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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