Rainbow colored oil slicks on the surface of a Moissanite ring can be shocking to find—and sometimes agonizing to get rid of. In this post, I’ll share techniques that will allow you to break free of the seemingly endless cycle of recurring oil slick stains on the surface of your Moissy.
What is Moissanite oil slick? This stain appears on the surface of some Moissanite, and has the rainbow-like appearance of radiator fluid. It is likely caused by the buildup of hard water residue and exposure to chemicals and oils. While stubborn, and often frustrating, the stain WILL come off if you use the right approach.
Whether you need to get rid of an oil slick stain on your Moissanite ring, or you’re hoping to learn how to avoid it, so you’ll never have to experience the stain, keep reading, You’ll find all the information you’ll need in the paragraphs that follow.
A Rainbow Stain on Moissanite
If you already own a Moissanite ring, you may be living in fear of the dreaded Moissanite oil slick that so many others have struggled with. This oil slick is also sometimes referred to as Moissanite ‘stain’ or ‘staining’. Once it strikes, the oil slick often feels like an incurable disease.
Sometimes more obvious than others, the stain might be fairly prominent, or it might be something you really have to look for and can only see with certain lighting and angles. Either way, once YOU notice it, it will likely drive you crazy until you’re able to get rid of it. If you don’t address it while the stain is small, it’s likely to get bigger and more visible until you take action.
In the paragraphs that follow, we’ll help you understand both how to avoid having issues with the oil slick effect on your ring, AND how to remedy the situation if it does happen. By the time you’re done with this article, you won’t have to live in fear of this rainbow-like intruder.
What Causes the Oil Slick Stain?
No one knows the exact cause of the rainbow stain on some Moissanite, but there are some common-sense theories that are widely believed throughout the jewelry industry. Most likely, the stain comes from contact with the following types of substances over time.
- Hand Sanitizer
- Soaps (hand soaps, dish soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, etc)
- Hair Care products (gel, mousse, hairspray, etc)
- Hard water (dissolved minerals in water that can build up gradually each time your ring gets wet)
- Chemicals (cleaning products)
Do you remove your ring before cleaning the house with sprays, wet wipes, or other chemicals? Do you take it off before showering, washing your hands, or applying lotion? If you don’t, you’re at a higher risk of eventually seeing an oil slick buildup. I wrote an article about Wearing Moissanite in the Pool, Hot Tub, or Shower. There is information and data in that article that may be helpful.
The Oil Slick on Diamond and Other Gems
You may be wondering if all types of gems get oil slick stains at some point. Would diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, or Morganite, for example? How about man-made stones like Cubic Zirconia? The answer is, ‘no’…rainbow staining is a phenomenon that’s unique to Moissanite.
Please understand that not ALL Moissanite is affected by oil slick stains. Some people notice the rainbow stain on their surface of their Moissanite within weeks, others after months or years. There are also many that are NEVER bothered by it. If you own a Moissanite ring it’s possible, NOT inevitable, that the oil slick stain will eventually appear.
Why Does the Oil Slick Only Appear on SOME Moissanite?
The dreaded rainbow stain is MUCH more common in older Moissanite, but be careful about attributing a direct correlation to age alone—there isn’t one. In other words, the oil slick stain doesn’t show up on an older Moissanite engagement ring BECAUSE the stone is old, it seems to show up on the older Moissanite because of the way Moissanite was made at the time.
Yes, newer Moissanite is affected much less often, but very cheap Moissanite (often imported from China) still frequently has issues. This differentiation likely happens because the manufacturers of cheap, imported, Moissanite cut corners in order to keep prices down. The Moissanite looks beautiful at first, but eventually starts to have issues (like oil slick stains). It’s often true that ‘you get what you pay for.’
The rainbow stain, we’ve been discussing, seems to appear when a susceptible ring comes in contact with particular substances over time. If you wear a Moissy stone that’s less susceptible, it will be more resistant to the stain.
My wife, for example, wears her Moissanite ring all the time (24/7). While she doesn’t intentionally abuse them, she’s not one to pamper her rings. She washes dishes, kids, dogs, and cars with her ring on. She’ll swim, shower, or soak in a hot tub with her ring on too. Even after all that, she’s never seen the slightest evidence of an oil slick stain on the surface of her ring. I’m really curious to see if one ever appears.
If my wife had a really low-quality Moissanite ring where corners had been cut during the manufacturing process, she may have seen an oil slick show up within the first few weeks or months.
How to Remove Oil Slick From Moissanite
The oil slick stain isn’t easy to remove from the surface of Moissanite, but it definitely IS POSSIBLE. Many people have cleaned their ring until they couldn’t see the stain any longer, only to feel defeated and hopeless when it returns a week or so later. I’ve heard from several people that eventually gave up and sold their ring. I’ve also heard from others that purchased a used Moissanite ring only to have an oil slick reappear a short time later.
There’s no need to dump your ring if it’s affected by this kind of stain. It is something you can fix if you do the process properly. I’m going to share some of the specific techniques that have proven successful for removing the oil slick from Moissanite in the past. Most of these remedies require a little patience and some good old fashioned ‘elbow grease.’
While it might LOOK LIKE the stain is gone after a minute or two of work, in order to get rid of it, long-term, you’ll need to devote a little more time. Planning on 10 to 20 minutes of total work should be sufficient. Keep reading, and you’ll learn more about why the additional time is needed (why you won’t want to stop cleaning as soon as the stain APPEARS to be gone). Just turn on a movie and scrub as you watch, then it won’t feel like such drudgery!
There’s No One Size Fits All Solution
You may have heard someone share information on what they did to remove the oil slick stain from their ring in the past, only to find that it DIDN’T work on yours. That’s a common experience. I think that could happen for a number of reasons.
- You’re using different products (a different brand of toothpaste or silver polish for example).
- You’re using different tools (a brush that’s more or less firm for example)
- You’re using a different technique (you’re pressing more or less firmly for example)
- Your build-up is heavier than theirs was
Don’t get discouraged if your first effort doesn’t do the trick. We’ve provided a number of solutions that have worked for Moissanite owners around the globe. If one particular approach doesn’t work well for you, try another. You’re sure to find a solution if you don’t give up.
Using a Moissanite Cleaning Cloth
One relatively simple way to clean the oil slick off of the surface of Moissanite, is with a Moissanite cleaning cloth (sometimes also referred to as a Sterling Polishing Cloth, a Sunshine Cleaning Cloth, a Yellow Sunshine Cloth, or a Jeweler’s Rouge Cloth). Many people use the Sunshine Polishing Cloth for Sterling Silver cleaning jobs, but it can also be used to scrub a rainbow film right off of the surface of a Moissanite stone. The process will take a little effort and patience, but it works well.
How do Sunshine Polishing Cloths Work?
A Moissanite polishing cloth is manufactured with a polishing compound (Jeweler’s Rouge) infused on one side. The other side of the cloth is a soft surface used for wiping and buffing once the cleaning is complete. When the cloth is new, it’s typically yellow or orange, but as you wipe your ring with the treated side of the cloth, it will start to turn black—that’s normal. The black marks are a combination of gunk that’s being removed from the surface of your ring, and the visual effect of the polishing compound being removed from the cloth.
A black appearance doesn’t mean that the cloth won’t continue to work effectively for cleaning. The Sunshine cloth residue will continue to work long after the cloth is completely discolored and looking old, in fact, most people find that they can use the same cloth for about 48 months before having to replace it.
How will you know when it’s time to replace your polishing cloth? You’ll know it’s time to replace the cloth when one of two things happens.
- The cloth wears through and literally falls apart.
- The fabric of the cloth starts to get a lot of pilling (those little clumps of balled up fabric—like sweaters often accumulate).
Whatever you do, don’t wash your polishing cloth! It’s natural to consider washing it when you see the surface of the cloth turning dark. Logically, it seems the cloth is dirty, and that it might work even more effectively after a good cleaning. Unfortunately, during the washing process, you’ll strip the cloth of the cleaning compound that makes it effective. If you washed it along with other towels or clothing items, the buildup and chemicals from the polishing cloth might stain the other clothes that it comes in contact with during the washing and drying cycles.
To clean your stone with the polishing cloth, Rub the treated side of the cloth against the oil slick stain on the surface of your Moissanite stone with medium pressure. Stop periodically to evaluate your progress as you go. You should see the cloth darkening, and the stain on the surface of your Moissanite gradually disappearing.
An Important Word of Caution
Rhodium is a light-colored metal from the Platinum family. Some rings are coated, or ‘plated’, in Rhodium to improve their visual appeal or their durability.
Don’t use your polishing cloth on any surfaces that are Rhodium plated! The cloth will remove the plating. Having a local jeweler replate it for you would probably cost $40 or more. The cloth is safe to use on Gold—as long as it isn’t Rhodium plated. Be careful though, because nearly all white gold Is Rhodium plated. Because of that, it’s probably safest not to use polishing cloths on white gold at all—just in case! You should also avoid using the treated side of the cloth of soft or porous stones. While a hard stone, like Moissanite, is safe, something like Opal or Turquoise, for example, could be harmed by the cloth.
Sterling Silver is safe to use a polishing cloth on (as long as it isn’t Rhodium plated). Platinum is also safe to use the cloth on. If your ring is Rhodium plated, you need to be careful with your technique, regardless of which you choose. Silver polish, toothpaste, and other treatments could strip the Rhodium, especially if you apply too much pressure.
Because of this, it would be best to use highly localized treatments that help you avoid contact with the prongs or any other plated areas—for example, using a Q-tip might allow you to rub the stone while avoiding the prongs better than a toothbrush would.
Using Silver Polish
Another common alternative for removing oil slick stains, involves the use of a silver polish (or silver cream) and a soft toothbrush (a baby toothbrush is ideal). If you don’t already have a baby toothbrush on hand, you can pick them up at a local dollar store.
Apply the polish directly to the surface of the Moissanite stone and start scrubbing. I would suggest scrubbing for at least 5 minutes. Once the stain seems to be gone, rinse the stone well with warm water, and then dry thoroughly. Not all brands of silver cream are equally effective. Wright’s Silver Cream is the brand that’s most trusted for oil slick removal. It’s readily available at Walmart, neighborhood hardware stores, and online.
If you prefer a liquid polish, Haggerty’s Silversmith Polish is a brand that I’d recommend. It’s also one that’s recommended by some quality Moissanite manufacturers.
While one cleaning with a silver polish may do the trick, chances are, you’ll need to clean the ring multiple times to fully remove the visible stain AND to remove the film that ISN’T visible. Try to be patient with the process.
Using a Specific Stainless Steel Cleaning Powder
Another product I’ve seen good success with, is a tool called ‘Bar Keeper’s Best Friend’ that many restaurants and bars swear by for keeping their stainless steel looking great. It’s essentially a cleanser that can be used for a number of different purposes. Fortunately, this product is available for home use too. If you get a Q-tip wet and then dip it in the powder to coat the tip, you can typically scrub the oil slick stain off the surface of your Moissanite pretty quickly. As an added bonus, you can use this popular cleanser brand to clean your kitchen too once your ring is squared away!
Try to just scrub the stone, avoiding the metal portion of your ring (hopefully the Q-tip helps you to do that). When you’re done scrubbing, rinse the ring well and then dry it thoroughly.
The thing that I love about using toothpaste to tackle your stain, is that there’s nothing new to purchase. You probably have toothpaste and an old toothbrush on hand right now.
I don’t think that brand matters much when it comes to the kind of toothpaste that you use for this, but Colgate and Aqua Fresh are the brands that seem to be used most often when I hear from people about a successful outcome using toothpaste alone.
Either a soft toothbrush or a Q-tip can be used with the toothpaste to scrub the stain.
Using Dish Soap
A mild dish soap, like Dawn, and the green side (the rough side) of a new two-sided sponge can sometimes work wonders. Here again, I love this technique because it uses common cleaning products that many homes already have on hand. The dish soap is a cleaning agent, but also a lubricant—it’s the friction of the scrubber side of the sponge that can make the biggest difference. Apply pressure as needed.
Depending on the nature of your oil slick stain, you may see rapid progress, or you may need to stick with it and keep scrubbing for 20 to 30 minutes or more before getting the result that you’re looking for. Again, it might be easiest if you put on an episode of your favorite show to entertain you as you work.
Using a Specific Glass Cleaning Spray
A while back, someone told me about a struggle they had over many months to find a solution to the stain on their Moissanite engagement ring. The process of trying to find a solution was driving her nuts—nothing had worked! She tried all sorts of things that others had recommended and then started experimenting on her own in desperation.
Eventually, she found a combination that did the trick. She used a specific glass cleaner called “Invisible Glass” and the rough side (the green side) of a two-sided sponge. The stain came off, her ring looked amazing, and she was elated!
Using a Dremel
If manual processes aren’t doing the trick, if your hands are hurting, or you have medical issues, like arthritis, that prevent you from scrubbing as long and hard as you might normally need to—you may want to consider a more mechanical scrubbing solution.
Exercise caution here, but tools like electric toothbrushes and even Dremels have may prove to be a lifesaver if you need to speed up the process or spare your hands from extended scrubbing. A Dremel is a rotary tool that can be used for a wide variety of functions, like cutting, carving, sanding, or buffing. The accessory that you attach, determines what the tool can be used for.
A Dremel can rotate the attachment being used at 5,000 to 35,000 RPM (revolutions-per-minute). That kind of speed can save you a significant amount of time and effort when scrubbing!
Buffing and polishing are typically done with a felt wheel attachment. You could either try using the felt wheel alone…or you can use it in conjunction with a silver cream or polish.
What to do if Your Oil Slick Keeps Coming Back
If you’ve cleaned your oil slick in the past, only to have it resurface a week or two later, you may be getting to the point of desperation. It can be extremely frustrating and eventually starts to feel hopeless. Some folks that have been through the cycle several times, eventually decide to sell their Moissanite ring (used) and move on. Unfortunately, that means that a new buyer is going to have to start working through the same issues.
Someone recently told me that they use both silver polish AND polishing cloths to remove the oil slick stain from their Moissanite—but the stain keeps coming back again! They’re at their wits end! If you’re in the same boat, don’t lose hope. The oil slick cycle is sometimes hard to break for good, but it can be done, here’s how—
The tarnish or build-up that forms on the surface of Moissanite as an oil slick has a film that (like algae) has to be removed COMPLETELY or it will grow back. Those that have had the seemingly ENDLESS frustration of a returning oil slick, have probably never cleaned their ring well enough to completely get rid of the film. They have been successful at eliminating the visual evidence of the stain, but some of the film remained, so, within just days or weeks, it grows back and becomes visible again.
Here’s the key: Clean your Moissanite until all visual evidence of the stain is completely gone. When you can’t see the stain any longer, and you’d bet your life that the film is gone from the surface of the stone—clean it again another time or two. It’s these additional cleanings (once the stone already appears to be clean) that help to wipe out the remainder of the film. Once the film’s residue is COMPLETELY gone, it’s very possible that the oil slick may NEVER return. At the very least, it won’t return quickly—and you’ll know how to handle it effectively, if it does reappear at some point down the road.
How to Keep the Oil Slick Away
There’s an old saying that I remember hearing as I was growing up, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While this post shares several very effective methods for getting rid of an oil slick stain on Moissanite, it’s much better to avoid the problem altogether if you can. The following guidelines could help you avoid the hassle of a rainbow stain on your Moissy ring:
- Remove your ring to apply lotion, hair care products, or hand sanitizer.
- Remove your ring to wash your hands or shower.
- Don’t swim or soak in a hot tub with your ring on.
- Remove your ring before cleaning with any kind of chemicals.
- Clean your ring regularly to so you can remove grime before it really builds up.
- Consider using distilled water to wash your ring without concerns about hard water.
When I talk about cleaning your ring regularly, that might mean once a month, every week, or every day, depending on the needs of your ring. Every two to four weeks should be frequent enough unless you’re having a particular problem with build, or staining, on your stone.
Cleaning your ring could be a simple as letting it soak for a few minutes in a small bowl of warm water mixed with mild dish soap, before scrubbing it thoroughly with a baby toothbrush. After scrubbing it down, you would simply rinse it well and then dry it completely.
Another option that’s safe for Moissanite is an Ultrasonic cleaner. These handy devices use sound waves to clean your jewelry. They make frequent cleanings painless! Some people just drop their ring in their Ultrasonic cleaner before going to bed every couple of nights, and then wake up to a sparkling clean ring in the morning.
Ultrasonic cleaners aren’t ONLY available to jewelers. You can actually purchase a unit that’s designed for home use for surprisingly little (less than $50). If an Ultrasonic cleaner makes it easier for you to maintain your ring over the years and maximize its beauty, it’s well worth having.
Warning:Ultrasonic cleaners might not be gentle enough if you have a fairly fragile setting, like a pave settings on your ring. It might also not be the best option if your ring is Rhodium plated. If you have any questions about whether your ring might be too fragile for an Ultrasonic cleaner, talk to a local jeweler or play it safe and wash it manually with soapy water and a toothbrush.
If you buy quality Moissanite from a reputable manufacturer, you’re less likely to have issues with an oil slick stain than you would if you purchase very cheap Moissy—where corners may have been cut during the manufacturing process. Removing your ring before dealing with water, chemicals, soaps, hand sanitizer, or hair care products could help prevent the appearance of a rainbow stain on the surface of your moissanite.
If the oil slick stain DOES show up at some point, you CAN get rid of it if you use the methods outlined above and don’t give up. All of the methods outlined in this article have proven effective for removing this type of stain on Moissanite, but you may find that one of these methods works much faster, and more easily, on your particular stone and stain than the others (which is why it’s important not to give up or lose hope as you work toward a solution). Clean your ring regularly to help prevent buildup and keep it looking its best.