The Do's & Don'ts When Cleaning Vintage Jewelry

A vintage piece of jewelry is incredibly beautiful, and special as well. It's one in a million! Pieces of jewelry back then were hand made and so you'll never find two rings exactly alike. This isn't the only reason they are special. 

Some of these necklaces, bracelets, and rings have been worn for many years. Maybe they’ve gone from person to person, symbolizing birthdays, love, achievements, and engagements, for decades. 

It is a true honor to wear such a beautiful piece of history. You can keep it going by gifting it to your daughter or grandchild. Of course, you can only do this if you take good care of it now. That means cleaning it correctly. 

Do you know how to clean necklaces or how to shine jewelry pieces? If you don’t, don’t worry. We have a few tips on vintage jewelry and necklace cleaning to help you out without having to resort to getting them professionally cleaned.

Tip #1: Don't polish away the patina.

Patina is a green or brown film on the surface of bronze jewelry. It takes years to form, so it's proof of the authenticity of a vintage piece. In fact, some reproduction jewelry will actually fake this patina in order to make an item appear older than it is! 

This is why the first tip on how to clean and polish jewelry is to be careful with how much you polish it. You don't want to polish your jewelry pieces so much that this patina is lost.

Tip #2:  Avoid harsh chemicals.

 A quick Google search will tell you how wonderful ammonia is for getting a shiny and clean diamond. This might work for new jewelry, but antique jewelry requires a much more gentle approach. 

This is specially true when cleaning precious metals and delicate pieces such as cleaning a gold necklace chain. When cleaning a gold chain, it is best to avoid harsh chemicals, including ammonia, household cleaners, and bleach. These chemicals can cause your vintage gold jewelry to crack and break.

Tip #3: Make your own cleaning solution.

Another great tip on how to clean necklaces and other types of jewelry is making the cleaning solution yourself. In order to know for sure your cleaning solution is gentle and safe, you can actually make it yourself. This is easy to do! Simply mix warm water with a small amount of mild soap, like Dove, until it is bubbly and sudsy.

Please refrain from using dish soap, hot or cool water. The best mix is lukewarm water with mild body or face soap, which tend to be more delicate.

Tip #4: Never submerge the piece of jewelry for a long period of time.

Any type of liquid can be detrimental to some certain pieces, especially jewelry with opals, pearls, or any other soft stone. Another necklace cleaning tip is to avoid keeping it in too long. To ensure you’re careful with this, it’s best not to completely saturate the piece with liquid at all. Instead, lightly clean your piece with a damp brush with soft bristles, a microfiber cloth, or other soft cloth.

Tip #5: Use a soft toothbrush.

You've made your solution and you know you can't just drop it in, so how do you actually clean it? A soft, lightly dampened toothbrush is going to be your go-to tool for how to clean and polish jewelry

Gently scrub your jewelry, paying attention to areas like the stones and underneath the prongs. Use slow circular motions using only light pressure. Don’t be tempted to use more pressure! Patience is the key to doing a great job. Gently repeat, repeat, repeat the brushing until it's clean.

There is a right way and a wrong way to clean antique jewelry. Heidi Daus is your go-to place for everything about vintage jewelry! Whether you want to know how to clean the pieces you love or add to your vintage jewelry collection, we are here for you.

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