Cleaning your vintage and antique jewelry is likely easier than you think. Many of these pieces originated 20, 50 or even 100 years ago, and they’ve survived the decades in style. With a little care and preparation, you can keep them looking like new for generations to come. Just follow these basic guidelines for polishing and maintaining your most precious family treasures.
Cleaning Vintage & Antique Jewelry
Does your new (or new to you) accessory need a deep starter clean? If there’s any dirt or debris, a soft brush will take it right off. Be sure to be careful when brushing stones or other non-metal areas. For the cleaning, Windex (or a similar non-bleach product) or mild soapy water is a good first choice, depending on the original material. Remember, do not spray the Windex directly onto your jewelry or submerge it into water. In every case, a little goes a long way. A mist of Windex on a soft, clean cloth should remove any stubborn dust. Clean hard-to-reach areas with a very soft toothbrush or cotton swab. Although popular, compressed (canned) air can damage settings and loosen stones or other decorative elements. When done, air dry the piece for at least an hour. Make sure that each is completely dry before it is put away.
We urge you to avoid jewelry cleaning dips for two very important reasons. First, if you dip unevenly or inconsistently, lines will develop on your jewelry where each dip ends. These can be very difficult to remove later. Most important, many commercial dips will create microscopic abrasions and pits in the original metal, which can damage the piece over time.
Maintaining Vintage & Antique Jewelry
Prevention is always easier than repair. So, store your vintage pieces in a soft zippered pouch to prevent accumulation of dust. A dry, cool and dust-free environment helps to maintain the piece’s original appearance. With regular wear, most vintage and antique accessories will need virtually no additional attention.
A Word of Caution
Above all else, remember that antique and vintage pieces were made over hundreds of years, in hundreds of countries and out of countless combinations of materials. These are only guidelines, and nothing prevents damage more than common sense and the advice of a professional. If you aren’t sure, contact us or another vintage jewelry specialist.
If you need specific help with care of sterling silver jewelry, you can check out our online guide here.
If you ever have a question about cleaning your vintage jewelry or the proper care of an antique piece, let us know. We will give you our best guidance or point you in the direction of someone better suited to your specific needs.