|Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry|
How to clean & care for Vintage & Antique Jewelry
You have a nice collection of vintage or antique jewelry. It's lovely...it sparkles...it's a heirloom...and it will need to be stored, cared for, and cleaned so that it stays that way. This page is devoted to tips for taking care of, and cleaning, your precious jewelry.
There are several things to remember when thinking about caring for vintage and antique jewelry. These are all elements which could cause deterioration over time:
1. Scratching. Be careful that your jewelry isn't stored so that the pieces rub against each other. General scratching, at best, and scratching and loss of stones at worst could be the result. Leave room between the pieces and, if they are especially treasured, a soft pouch or cloth around them might be considered.
2. Temperature changes. Any increases or decreases in temperature can affect the glue and cause stones to fall out.
3. Moisture. Jewelry's biggest enemy. Moisture can be the breeding ground for Verdigris damage or rust damage, and pitting of metals. Also...all rhinestone jewelry is at risk of losing the foil backing of the rhinestones and loss of their luster if moisture comes in contact with them. For this reason, it is especially important to be careful wearing jewelry in moist places, i.e. the beach, saunas, pools, even in very rainy weather. Chlorine is particularly damaging to stones and metals. Also important is to make sure that the jewelry is completely dry after any cleaning is done before putting them away.
4. Household jobs. It is important to remove jewelry when doing household cleaning and other jobs, and particularly when doing any heavier cleaning or yard work or gardening.
5. Containers. A container is a container is a container. Right? Unfortunately, no. Nat all containers are equal when it comes to storing jewelry. Oak cabinets give off fumes that can damage jewelry, so an oak jewelry box may not be the best bet. Many jewelry pieces come in small boxes, designed to store the piece. Even these can cause damage, in time, because they probably contain sulphur, which can damage the metal in gold and silver jewelry. As stated above, soft pouches or cloths around special pieces are a good choice. Other good choices are metal or plastic containers and zip lock bags. (Zip locks are especially good for rhinestone jewelry...if a stone gets dislodged...it stays in the bag!) If you have a large collection of display vintage jewelry, a curio cabinet is fine for storage.
6. General storing tips. Keep items separate from each other, and be sure to store beaded jewelry flat, especially if it is strung on silk, because silk stretches over time. Keep jewelry away from sunlight, heat vents, and hot car interiors.
Okay...you know how to store your jewelry...but no matter how well you do this, some dust will eventually get into the storage area and into the jewelry. How do you do this safely? The following will give you some cleaning advice:
1. There are many products available to clean vintage jewelry. Make sure that the one you choose does not contain alcohol, acids or ammonia. If you decide to use a product designed for cleaning jewelry, please read the label and make sure that the product matches the piece. i.e...don't use sterling silver cleaner to clean rhinestone jewelry, for instance.
2. Windex, sprayed onto a soft cloth is a good choice if you do not go the jewelry cleaner route. BE SURE, in either case, not to spray the cleaner directly onto the jewelry, but rather onto a soft cloth first, in a very small amount...just enough to do the job. Soapy water is not suggested because it can leave a residue on the jewelry and can make stones look dull.
3. Before cleaning inspect the jewelry for dust and other grit. Use a magnifying glass or loupe. It will help to see if there are any loose stones or settings, which can be tightened before attempting to clean. In all cases, the softest toothbrush (or make up brush) you can find is a good choice to lightly dust first before attempting to clean the item. (Be VERY careful when cleaning aurora borealis stones, since they will scratch very easily.) For specific tips on cleaning rhinestone jewelry, see this page.
4. Once you have lightly dusted the jewelry, spray a little Windex, or jewelry cleaner on a very soft cloth. Make sure that it is not too wet. It should be just damp enough to get the job done. If there is dirt in small places, a little cleaner on a Q tip will be useful.
5. In all cases, be sure that the jewelry is completely dry before putting it away. Remember that moisture is jewelry's biggest enemy. Why bother cleaning it, if you are going to put it away wet, just to find out that you've damaged it yourself through carelessness. I suggest drying for at least 15 minutes UPSIDE DOWN so that any moisture will flow away from the jewelry, not into the settings.
6. Finally, a soft polish with a special polishing cloth, like a Sunshine Polishing cloth. (can be purchased at many places online, and some jewelry shops.) They are inexpensive cloths and do a wonderful job of polishing a jewelry piece to make it look almost new.
7. How often to clean? There is no general rule of thumb. If it is a piece that you wear often, you could clean it every week or two. If it is a special piece that is used only occasionally, you might just clean it right before wearing it, or when putting it away again for storage.
With a little care in storage and cleaning, your precious vintage and antique jewelry will give you years of enjoyment, and will be able to be passed down to your descendents.
Free counters provided by Andale.
This site was last updated 12/26/07