Holland asked: How do I clean a jade carving? I have a large jade carving of horses from China. It has been exposed to some kerosene heat in the past and looks quite dirty. Mild soap and water do not work. Thanks.
Jade has a strong presence in China as it has been present there for over four thousand years. It is used in a wide variety of symbolic pieces and is considered the most beautiful of all stones. The designs can be elaborate, and the pieces hold a high value. Taking proper care of your jade piece will prolong its life and keep it looking beautiful.
You Will Need:
- Dish soap
- Very soft cloths
- Very soft brush (a blush applicator works well) or an Oven
- Soft cloth or towel
- Very soft toothbrush
- Clean, soft, lint free cloth (new shoe polishing cloths work well)
Steps to Clean the Jade:
- For day-to-day cleaning, simple soap and water are sufficient, but when your jade piece needs a deeper cleaning, mix eight parts water, one part dish soap and one part ammonia in a bucket.
- Moisten a soft cloth or soft brush with the mixture. If using a blush applicator for your soft brush, ensure it is new and unused. Used brushes could have pigments in the bristles that will be transferred to the jade.
- Gently wash the surfaces of the piece. Use light pressure and ensure all cleaning utensils are very soft or it could scratch the surface.
- If the carving is sturdy and not fragile or delicate, the entire piece can be placed under running water and scrubbed carefully with a brush.
- Once the surfaces have been cleaned, rinse the piece completely with clean water.
- To dry, lay the carving on a soft towel in a warm (not hot) room.
- The carving can also be dried carefully in a slightly warm oven (100 – 110 degrees Fahrenheit). Keep the piece on a soft dish towel for protection and do not over-dry. Jade pieces have water content that should not be removed or it could damage the piece.
- Jade pieces are coated with wax after being carved and polished. During the cleaning process, some of this wax is removed and can leave the piece looking dulled. If desired, a layer of wax can be applied to the surface.
- Rub a clean, dry toothbrush over the wax. Keep rubbing until enough friction is created to melt some of the wax onto the bristles. Do NOT melt the wax with heat.
- Apply a thin layer of wax to the carving, working in small sections. The goal is to fill in the pores with wax, not to make a wax layer on top of the carving.
- Allow the wax to cool for several hours to overnight.
- Use the clean, soft cloth to buff the surface. While you are buffing, the wax will be pushed into the pores and excess wax will be removed from the surface. Remember, you don’t want a layer of wax on top of your piece, only the pores to be filled.
- If there are intricate carvings in your piece, buff those areas with a very soft, clean toothbrush.
Additional Tips and Advice
- Jade is delicate. Scratches and cracks can occur easily and are difficult to remove. Be careful not to bump your piece as it can cause internal fractures that will show up over time.
- There are protective cases available to keep your jade piece free of dust, dirt and bumps when not displayed.
- Jade jewelry should be cleaned after each wearing with a soft cloth. Perfumes, chemicals and perspiration can all affect the look and quality of jade.
- Keep jade pieces out of direct sunlight. The heat will cause them to expand and change the way they look.
- If your jade piece becomes scratched on the surface, it will have to be polished by a professional. This polishing process is difficult and can be expensive.
- Jade is not a completely dry stone. It has water content. Keep it around some humidity to keep it from becoming over-dry.
- Some recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner to clean jade. The cleaner can apply too much pressure and cause cracks in the stone. Only use if you are experienced with cleaning jade and can complete the process safely.
- If you haven’t already done it, consider getting the piece appraised and adding it onto your home insurance. Many jade carvings are valuable.