While all kinds of jewelry need tender, loving care, antique jewelry is even more delicate. Therefore, it’s important to care for and clean your vintage jewelry properly since certain cleaners or cleaning techniques damage them. Cleaning restores the shine and luster, as well as protects family heirlooms so they can be passed down for many more generations.
Check your antique pieces regularly, especially the mounts of precious stones, delicate details, and protrusions. If you spot any sort of damage, take the piece to a professional before the damage worsens. If you choose to clean your own pieces at home, use caution and clean the jewelry gently. Scrubbing too hard can damage the enamel, the mounting, the setting, or even the stone itself.
Cleaning Gold Jewelry
While gold is one of the more durable metals, you still need to follow certain steps to avoid damaging or tarnishing it. As you begin cleaning your gold jewelry, use soft polishing cloth and wipe in straight lines to avoid leaving extra marks.
If your bangles, pendant, or ring doesn’t feature any soft gemstones, soak each piece individually in a solution of warm water with a few drops of mild dish soap. Rub the piece carefully with a cotton swab, and if deeper cleaning is required, scrub gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
After cleaning your jewelry, rinse each piece completely under warm water and pat dry with a soft dry cloth. Lay your jewelry out flat and allow it to air-dry overnight. If you put it away while the piece is still wet, you risk tarnishing gold due to the extra moisture that stays on the setting.
Cleaning Silver Jewelry
Silver tarnishes easily, especially if it sits too long in moisture. Just like gold, silver tarnishes if it comes in contact with harsh substances such as chlorine, salt water, and air pollutants.
To clean your silver pieces at home, prepare a paste of baking soda and hot water. Rub the solution carefully on the silver piece with a soft cloth. If your silver jewelry has any gemstones, you should stick to a solution of warm water and mild dish soap. Scrub the solution gently around the stones.
Cleaning Jewelry with Gemstones
Caring for antique bangles and other delicate jewelry isn’t as hard as you might have thought. You can use the same mild dish detergent solution for most gemstones such as amber, turquoise, coral, emerald, and jade. Clean, scrub, and wipe such delicate gemstones gently to avoid damaging them. After washing, rinse thoroughly, and return it to its own jewelry pouch after it has completely air-dried.
Extra care is needed for jewelry with pearls; simply wipe the gem with a lightly dampened cloth. Use caution (i.e. clean gently) and make sure the jewelry is completely dry. Pearls can get moldy if moisture remains on the gems.
If the dirt has crusted or if it can’t be removed by ordinary washing and scrubbing, you may need to have the dirt removed through ultrasonic cleaning.
Additional Cleaning and Care Tips
- Clean your jewelry with a glass jar or plate under your hands so if a stone falls off, you’ll be able to easily retrieve it.
- Remember that diamonds and other precious stones are susceptible to scratching so store your jewelry in satin lined boxes.
- Keep your jewelry in a cool, dry room as heat and humidity can damage them.
- Avoid contact with perfume, make-up and hairspray–always apply these products before putting on your jewelry as these may tarnish it.
- Avoid wearing delicate jewelry while swimming, especially diamonds and gold jewelry as the chlorine will damage it and make the metal more brittle.
- Arrange to have a professional check and clean your antique bangles and other cherished pieces at least once a year.
You can buy antique bangles by Kalmar Antiques and other reputable providers. Such providers can also fix your current antiques, and while you’re there, check out their choice of gorgeous antique bangles from the Victorian to the Edwardian period as well as other antique pendants and rings.