5 Tips For Cleaning Your Vintage & Antique Jewelry

Author Lynelle Schmidt
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Date Dec 11, 2014

diamond-cleaningFinding a beautiful antique jewelry piece can be quite the thrill! And you knew the second you saw it that it just had to be yours. But, once you bring that sparkly piece back home with you to wear around, you won't want to neglect it.

Cleaning your antique jewelry every few weeks is an important step to keeping it looking beautiful. Without regular cleaning, the pieces could start to lose their sparkle and shine. And because these pieces are decades old, you want to keep them in pristine condition so that they'll last even longer and you can pass them down in your family.

We've come up with five simple steps that you can follow when your antique jewelry is ready to be cleaned:

1. Choose the right cleaning product based on the metal and stone type

Not all antique jewelry should be treated equally when it comes to cleaning. There are different procedures you should follow based on the metal type in your jewelry and the type of stones. The chemical composition of different metals varies so the effect of certain solutions on different metals will vary as well. For instance, gold may darken over time. To remedy this, you can clean it with a solution containing ammonia and lots of water. The same can be used to clean platinum jewelry. But it's very important to note that ammonia is incredibly strong and could permanently damage the metal if left on too long! It can be a risky solution to use, so we recommend professional cleaning solutions that are made specifically for gold or platinum jewelry. Silver, on the other hand, can be cleaned with a diluted baking soda solution that is applied more gently because the metal does not have the same strength as gold or platinum.

Something even as simple as dish detergent can be used to clean gold and platinum jewelry if there are no gemstones or anything with a setting on the piece. Every cleaning solution alternative should be carefully consider though. If you have gemstones, using dish detergent can loosen the stones or water could become trapped under or around the setting.

Make sure if you decide to go with a professional cleaning solution that you buy a reputable brand. You will also want to inspect the bottle and the instructions thoroughly so that you can make sure it is the right choice to clean your piece.

When it comes to gemstones, diamonds, sapphires, and rubies are the only ones that can take heat and can be cleaned using more powerful solutions like diluted ammonia (keeping in mind the risks). Other gemstones will vary, so its best to look up your specific stones to see which product is the best to clean them. If you piece contains any pearls, the best cleaning solution is actually just to wear them! The natural oils from your skin will help maintain their luster. You can also wipe the pearls with a soft cloth with drops of olive oil.

Taking all of these considerations in mind, make sure you are choosing a cleaning product that makes sense for the metal and stone type on your antique piece. And, if you want a second opinion, call your local jeweler or the store where you bought the piece to confirm. Jewelers will always know the relative risks and benefits to using different cleaning solutions.

2. Check for dust or other residue & clean with a soft brush

Before using any cleaning solution, make sure to dust off the piece and clean out any particles with a soft brush. It's important that you do this very gently, because you don't want these tiny particles to scratch any of the surfaces of your jewelry. Sometimes the dust or debris cannot be seen by the naked eye, so it might be helpful to use a loupe or magnifying glass. If you notice anything, just clean it out with a soft brush or toothbrush. This will get the piece ready for any solution or liquid to be applied.

3. Use jewelry cleaner on a soft cloth

Once you have decided on the correct solution to clean the antique piece and have cleared it of any dust or debris, it's time to make it look new again. Apply some of the solution onto a soft cloth and gently rub to clean. Make sure the cloth is not too wet. You want it to be just damp enough to clean the surface. If the piece has little crevices that are hard to reach with a cloth, use a soft Q tip.

Depending on the solution, you may also decide to soak the piece. If you end up using dish detergent, for instance, you can leave it soaking in a bowl for longer.

4. Make sure to dry the ring

This is one of the most important steps that you cannot miss when cleaning your antique jewelry. Once you have taken the necessary steps to clean the product and get it back to the way it was when you purchased it, you'll want to make sure its completely dry. If any liquid is left on the piece, it could be quite damaging to the jewelry. Moisture is just about the worst thing that could happen to an antique piece of jewelry.

A good way to dry the piece after its been washed is to flip it upside down for 15 minutes so that any leftover moisture will flow away from jewelry with gravity. You would not want it to get into the setting of the jewelry where it could become stuck and wreck havoc on the piece.

5. Polish the jewelry

One last step that you can take to finish the cleaning process is to polish the piece with a special cloth. You can buy special polishing clothes online or in a jewelry store. They are inexpensive and can help to add back some shine and sparkle to your antique piece.

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