Perhaps you have a nice piece of antique jewelry, but you seldom wear it because it looks… well, antique. Over time, dirt and grime can get deep into the tiny crevices on a piece of jewelry and make it look less than optimum – no matter how beautiful the piece is. You’d probably wear that special jewelry item more often if you could spruce it up a little, but since it’s an antique you might be hesitant to clean it. How do you know what kinds of materials are safe to use? Here is some advice about what you can do to clean a special piece of antique jewelry, so that you can enjoy wearing it instead of hiding it in your jewelry box.
When you’re looking at different jewelry cleaning solutions, the first thing you should do is read the label carefully. Make sure it doesn’t contain any alcohols or acids, such as ammonia or vinegar. These are strong chemicals that can harm the finish on antique jewelry, as well as any stones or mountings that are in the setting.
Common sense might lead you to think that good old soap and water might be a good choice for cleaning your jewelry, but actually that isn’t true. First of all, it would probably leave a soapy residue on your antique jewelry, and further dull the finish and the clarity of any stones or gems it contains. Even worse, water can dissolve any mounting materials that are used in the piece, such as glues. If that happens, you might lose the stones from the piece, which would indeed be a shame.
If the main problem with your piece of antique jewelry is simply dust, then you can just use a very soft toothbrush to clean deep into its crevices. Use the absolute softest toothbrush that you can find, and make sure that it’s a brand new brush. Old toothbrushes might be fine for cleaning around the kitchen sink, but they definitely won’t do for cleaning jewelry. There might be toothpaste residue in an old toothbrush that scratch and dull the finish on your jewelry piece.
Whatever method you choose to clean your antique jewelry, it’s very important to make sure that it dries very thoroughly after you’re done, and especially before storing it in your jewelry box. The slightest bit of dampness can contribute to rust, pitting on plated metals, verdigris, and other unpleasant consequences.
So that’s basically it – make sure that you use a safe cleaning solution, and treat your piece of antique jewelry very gently by using a very soft toothbrush. If you’re still uncomfortable about doing it on your own, you always have the option of taking it to a professional jeweler, of course. Many jewelry stores will provide this service for free, too. Whatever you do, just make sure that you don’t do anything to modify your antique jewelry. Any significant changes to the original setting can have a drastic effect on its value as a collectible.