Vintage Tips: How to Properly Care for Antique Jewelry

by Sammy in , 2 Comments — Updated October 21, 2019

How to Properly Care for Antique Jewellery Photo by Kotomi

Do you own priceless keepsakes such as a beautiful selection of antique clocks or vintage antique brooches? These antique pieces often hold not only monetary value, but also sentimental value as they may be passed down in families for generations.

While most vintage jewelry, knick-knacks, and other items may only bring modest value at the outset, some antique ones that are well-cared for will bring a higher reward. In order to keep these in beautiful condition and become a treasured investment, you need to give them some extra tender, loving care.

Special Cleaning Instructions

If you want to protect your investment, then you must periodically clean your stunning antiques.  Begin by inspecting the piece with a magnifying glass to check for loose stones or underlying dirt. Also, if you find lose parts such as mechanical gears or springs lying amidst your beautiful selection of antique clocks or loose gems from your jewelry, you can try tightening the settings or re-attach the parts if you have the expertise.

Pay extra attention to raised details. Because many details in several antiques are actually raised, they attract dirt and grime faster.  Use a soft toothbrush dipped in a mild solution of water and detergent to clean the surface of your antique jewelry. Let the solution set for a minute, but be careful not to leave the soap on for too long or they may damage soft metal or stones. Also, avoid commercial jewelry cleaners as they are too harsh for delicate items.

Wash the jewelry with cool, clear, clean water to rinse of the suds.  Make sure there isn’t any residue left on the item.

What a Little Oil Can Do

To prevent your antique jewelry from drying out and becoming brittle, oil it once a year with a high-quality mineral oil.  Apply the oil carefully and thinly with a Q-tip, and allow the oil to soak in for at least a few hours, if not overnight.  Remove the excess by washing it off gently with a soft toothbrush dipped in a gentle solution of dishwashing liquid and water. Rinse then dry your piece completely and wait at least 15 minutes before storing it again.

Tips for Caring for Your Cameo

  • Apply make-up, lotion, and perfume before putting on your jewelry. The dyes, creams, abrasives, and other substances can harm all kinds of jewelry.
  • Check the pockets of your clothes before sending them to the Laundromat to ensure that you have removed all jewelry. The spinning motion of the washing machine as well as the harsh soaps in washing the clothes can severely damage your jewelry.
  • Use caution so you don’t drop your jewelry piece because these delicate pieces chip easily.

Storing and Caring for Vintage Items

Careful storage prevents your antique items from becoming chipped, cracked or tarnished. Store your vintage items away from other jewelry pieces, especially if the former has sharp edges or are adorned with very hard gems.  This prevents the softer, more delicate material from the antique ones from being scratched or chipped. Ideally, antique jewelry and other items should be stored in a jewelry box, on a top of a soft pouch or cloth, allowing it to be protected and to breathe. Keep them in a moderate temperature and away from moisture and heat.

Enter Professional Assistance

As noted, many antiques are delicate and can be damaged even at the slightest drop, bump, or scrape. Therefore, it is imperative that you check for loose stones and parts often. If you don’t feel comfortable fixing the damage yourself, bring your piece to a professional antique jeweler, restorer, or repairman that has the knowledge and tools to repair these fine pieces.

After all, your treasured antiques deserve the best care in the world.

2 thoughts on “Vintage Tips: How to Properly Care for Antique Jewelry”

  1. You made a great point about oil and how it can help the jewelry from drying out and being week. My husband and I are looking for a vintage one-of-a-kind jewelry service that can help us get some jewelry for our daughter’s wedding. We will keep these tips in mind as we search for a professional that can help us best.

  2. My sister would attend a grand ball party this coming month, which is why she has decided to start looking for an antique necklace that she may use for the said event. Well, thank you for sharing here that this typeof jewelry should be cleaned with a soft toothbrush and a mild solution of water. I’ll also keep in mind to remind her that she must not apply lotion and perfume before wearing the necklace.


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