How to care for rhinestone vintage jewelry

Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry  













How to care for Rhinestone Vintage Jewelry

Vintage rhinestones are faceted pieces of glass in a variety of colors and hues.  They are meant to mimic precious stones and diamonds.  They have been in production for centuries, with the exception of aurora borealis rhinestones which were first produced in the 1950.  The original rhinestones were made from pebbles in the Rhine River in the 1700s.  Austrian and Czech rhinestones are of high quality and much in demand in high end vintage jewelry.

All rhinestones have a foil backing.  This foil backing is necessary for the stone to reflect back the light.  Without a foil backing, a rhinestone would simply be a pretty see through stone.  A damaged foil backing causes the rhinestone to darken and lose its reflective ability.

This foil backing is very susceptible to damage from moisture.  Water is a rhinestone's enemy so other methods must be used to clean them.  Never use commercial cleaners that are meant for other types of jewelry.

You will need several items to properly clean your rhinestone jewelry:  a soft bristled brush, (a soft toothbrush or make up brush works well),  a soft cloth (I use an old strip of a soft cotton tee shirt), a small pointed pin for loosening dirt - I find a small hat pin works nicely, or a dressmaker's pin with a rounded tip.  You'll also need rubbing alcohol, or Windex - this cuts grease well and doesn't have a wax in it like some cleaners do, so it won't leave any residue later.)

First, gently brush the rhinestones with the soft brush.  An exception is aurora borealis stones.  They scratch very easily, so shouldn't be brushed.  Use a very soft cloth on these.  Either the cloth of the brush will remove any loose dust.  Sometimes, the rhinestone jewelry piece will only need this brushing or soft cloth cleaning.  If not, read on.

The hat pin can be used to gently remove built up gunk around settings and prongs.  It will easily lift this away and is tiny enough not to damage the stones themselves.

Next, you can use either Windex sprayed on to a soft cloth (NOT directly on the stones) or rubbing alcohol on a q tip or a soft cloth.  Be sure that the cloth is only moistened, not saturated.  (If you create any suds...your cloth is too wet.)  Blot often with a dry soft cloth. Gently continue cleaning the stones with your moistened cloth until you are satisfied that the job is done.  Be careful about running too hard, or the cloth can catch on the prongs which hold the stones in place.

Be sure to leave the jewelry out for about an hour after cleaning to make sure that it is completely dry.  I suggest turning it upside down to make double sure.   You can also use the low heat of a hair dryer for a couple of minutes to hasten the drying time.  When it is completely dry, you should store it in a pouch or small jewelry box away from other jewelry which might scratch the stones.

One final tip...when wearing your rhinestone jewelry, put it on as the LAST thing you do before leaving the house.  This way, you make up, perfume,  and hair spray will already be in place and will not have a chance to be sprayed on the jewelry and damage it.

With a little care, your rhinestone jewelry will give you years of wearing pleasure. 



This site was last updated 12/26/07   

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