Cleaning Antique Jewellery
Antique jewellery is a beautiful and timeless investment, but it is important to take care of it properly to ensure that it lasts for generations to come.
Gold jewellery is relatively easy to take care of. To clean gold jewellery, simply allow it to soak in a lukewarm solution of mild soap and water for a few minutes. Then, use a soft brush to gently clean and rinse under clear running water. Dry thoroughly using a soft lint-free cloth and use a jewellery polishing cloth to buff, which will restore its polish. Gold is easily damaged by chorine and as such should never be worn in swimming pools.
Silver jewellery is more prone to tarnishing. To clean silver jewellery place it in a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water for a few minutes. Use a soft brush to gently clean your silver jewellery. Then rinse well under clear running water and dry thoroughly using a soft lint-free cloth. A jewellery cloth can be used to buff, will will restore its shine. Chorine can permanently damage silver, so care should be taken to never wear silver in swimming pools.
Gemstone jewellery is more delicate than gold or silver jewellery and as such extra care should be taken. Before you start ensure that all the gemstones are securely fitted. To clean gemstone jewellery, simply allow it to soak in a lukewarm solution of mild soap and water for a few minutes. Then, use a soft brush to gently clean and rinse under clear running water. For softer gemstones such as Amethyst, Aquamarine, Opal, Sapphire, Citrine, emerald etc. It is better to use a soft cloth rather than a brush. Dry thoroughly using a soft lint-free cloth and use a jewellery polishing cloth to buff, which will restore its polish. Care should be taken when drying or using a jewellery cloth so as not to catch the cloth in the settings.
Pearls are mostly made of calcium carbonate and are very soft and delicate. For example, Pearls will dissolve if placed in vinegar as demonstrated by Cleopatra Queen of Egypt. When she dissolved a prise Pearl in vinegar and drank it to impress Marc Antony with her wealth.
To clean Pearls, use a soft lint-free cloth which has been dipped in clean lukewarm water and gently wipe each pearl. Never use any chemical cleaning agents on Pearls, as they will destroy the Pearl’s lustre. Do not submerge Pearls in water, especially a Pearl necklace as the water will damage the silk on which they are strung. It is also recommended to have your Pearl necklaces re-strung every three years or so, as the silk tread tends to stretch over time. Pearls have a natural lustre, which can be maintained by wearing them regularly. Pearls will absorb the natural oils from your skin, it is for this reason that museums that display Pearls arrange for them to be regularly worn.
Things to Avoid
- Never use harsh chemicals, including bleach, chorine or baking soda to clean jewellery.
- Do not use ultrasonic cleaners for antique jewellery, as they can crack some gemstones.
- Do not allow closed-back Georgian jewellery to get wet. They contain delicate gold or silver foils at the back of each gemstone, which can easily be damaged. It is best to have closed-back jewellery professionally cleaned.
- Avoid letting your jewellery come into direct contact with perfume or lotions.
- Do not let porous gemstones such as Pearl, Opal, Emerald, Coral or Turquoise soak in water.
- Remove your antique jewellery before you go to bed and also before you shower/bathe.
- Do not wear your jewellery will doing physical activities such as gardening, swimming or while playing sports.
Storage and Care
Antique jewellery should ideally be kept in a velvet-lined jewellery box, with each piece being stored in a separate compartment. Gold is a relatively soft material and will scratch easily and gemstones can easily get chipped. Storing pieces separately also prevents jewellery from becoming tangled. Where it is not possible to store your jewellery separately then it is best to wrap each piece in a lint-free cloth. Avoid wrapping your jewellery in plastic or placing items in zip-lock plastic bags as it will retain any moisture present. It is also best practice to lay each item flat rather than suspend them from a hook. For this reason, a jewellery box with shallow draws is most suitable.
Ensure that you keep your jewellery in a cool dry place and out of direct sunlight. Some gemstones are particularly vulnerable to sunlight damage, such as Amethyst, Aquamarine, Opal, Sapphire, Citrine and emerald. These gemstones will fade in colour over time if left exposed to direct sunlight.
Antique jewellery is not only valuable, it typically has sentimental value as well. As such we recommend that you routinely take your jewellery to a reputable jeweller. To have each piece professionally inspected and cleaned. Gemstones can become loose in their settings and if caught in time they can easily be tightened. This will work out much more cost-effectively, compared to replacing a gemstone and will also keep the piece in its original condition. A jeweller will also be able to buff and polish out any minor scratches. Ensuring that your antique jewellery stays in heirloom condition for generations to come.
Repairing antique jewellery is difficult and can be expensive. Should you need to have repairs made or if you need to have an antique ring re-sized, it is important to find an experienced and accredited jeweller to undertake the work. Most antique jewellery associations can provide a list of approved jewellers in your area.
You can also get in touch with Carusjewellery.com on Facebook , were you may leave any comments or questions you may have about this article.