To effectively clean drusies, it's best to remember what they are--Essentially, they are groups of tiny crystals that grew out of a mineral matrix. Some drusies, like those of azurite, are really crumbly and unstable, which is why I won't sell them on my website. They would fall apart at the slightest touch. Others, like quartz drusies, are both hard and relatively tough, but even then, they're not damage-proof. You have to picture the individual crystals sitting like little teeth in the bone of your jaw--a hard enough knock, or rough abrasion, or lateral pressure back and forth, and that "tooth" can come out of its socket. A few missing crystals, with a dark matrix showing beneath, can detract from the look of a druzy cabochon. That's why proper cleaning and storage is so important.
First, let's start with coated drusies--titanium, gold, platinum, etc. The coating is very thin--it starts out in vapor form and attaches to the quartz crystals in a vacuum. With proper care, the coating should never wear off. To ensure the full life of a coated druzy, I never put it in a sonic cleaner. Instead, this is how I clean it:
I make a bath of warm soapy water. I use a dishwashing liquid without any moisturizers in it, something straight like Dawn or even liquid Dial soap. Various jewelry suppliers sell special jeweler's cleaning solution which is also good. I swirl the druzy through the water, or, if it's especially dirty, I let it soak for ten minutes. I don't use brushes on coated stones--the abrasion isn't worth the risk.
Next, I rinse in distilled water. Regular tap water has mineral deposits that dull the sparkle of the druzy. If you're doing more than one piece, fill a plastic container with some of the distilled water and place the cleaned drusies in it. Again, you can swirl the stones around or let them sit for several minutes. Try to match the temperature of the soapy water and the rinse water--You don't want to thermal shock the stone by washing it in hot water and plunging it into a cold rinse.
The next step: Remove the stone and place it right side up on a paper towel, and pat the back and sides of the stone to remove excess water. Don't place the paper towel on the front of the stone because the crystals will snag small fibers from the towel.
Immediately afterwards, using a hair dryer set on a warm or cool (but not hot) setting, blow dry the stone. I usually hold the stone in one hand and move it around as I hold the dryer in the other hand, rather than trying to dry the stones while they're lying on the paper towel--things blow away that way.
Clean natural drusies the same way as coated ones. In the case of natural quartz drusies, I get bold enough to use a soft toothbrush and gently brush it across the druzy crystals, especially in areas that might be discolored. Rinse and dry as described above. With other natural drusies, such as pink cobalto calcite and hemimorphite zinc, I refrain from brushing the crystals.
The cleaning method described above also works for drusies set into finished jewelry. A quick cleaning does wonders to revitalize the sparkle and color in a druzy piece. The only thing you might want to avoid placing into soapy water are pieces containing pearls.
The safest storage for a piece of jewelry with druzy in it is sequestered from other jewelry pieces that can bump against it. I recommend storing it in a little plastic bag and/or its own storage box.
Drusies may look delicate, but if cared for properly, most of them are tough enough to last forever in pendants, earrings, bolas, and dressy bracelets that aren't worn often. As always, I recommend that people avoid setting them in heavy-wear items such as rings or belt buckles. You can see drusies in every color of the rainbow on my website: heartofstonestudio.com