Cleaning antique jewelry comes with a few challenges. For example, you might not want to ruin the slightly aged patina that gives some of those pieces their special charm, and some pieces may be quite worn, meaning that you don’t want to cause damage by over-polishing. Use these tips for cleaning antique jewelry next time you want to make your favorite treasures sparkle!
How to Clean Antique Silver Jewelry
Antique silver often has a tarnished look that detracts from its beauty. The good news is that wearing these pieces next to your skin can help keep them well-polished; the bad news is that if they’re badly tarnished, you may need to make an effort in order to get them back to their original, shiny selves.
- If silver jewelry simply looks dull, a little filmy, or just a bit discolored, you can mix a few drops of mild dishwashing soap (the kind for hand-washing, not dishwasher) with a little bit of warm water. Dip a soft cloth into the mixture and use it to run the jewelry until it shines. Once you’re satisfied, rinse the item in cool water and buff it with a clean, soft cloth until it is dry.
- If the jewelry has heavy tarnish, create a paste with one part water and three parts baking soda. With a soft, clean cloth, apply a dab of the paste to the jewelry and rub. You may need to use a soft toothbrush to work the paste into deep, discolored crevices. Rinse the item in cool water each time the paste turns grey. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied, and then buff with a clean, soft cloth.
Whatever you do, avoid soaking silver jewelry for any length of time. This will not remove the tarnish; in fact, it may make the problem worse.
How to Clean Antique Gold Jewelry
Since gold doesn’t tarnish, it takes considerably less effort to restore its soft, beautiful gleam. Place your jewelry in a small strainer and rinse the item under warm water. This will soften any built-up residue between stones, under prongs, etc. After the initial rinse, use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the item, but do not use any kind of abrasive. If the item still doesn’t come clean, get a drop of mild dish detergent and gently wipe it onto your jewelry with a soft cloth. Let the detergent sit for a few moments and then use the brush again. Add a little bit of water if it seems too sticky. Once you’re satisfied, buff the item with a clean, soft cloth.
How to Clean Antique Pearls
Pearls require special care. Because they are porous, they lose their luster over time – but this technique brings back their naturally beautiful appearance.
Begin by laying the pearls on a soft cloth. Mix a little bit of shampoo with a cup of warm water and use a soft makeup brush to apply it to the pearls. Rub each one gently. When you rea finished, use a soft cloth with damp water to rinse the pearls. Lay them flat to dry; this will prevent the cord from stretching. You can use this technique on natural pearls as well as faux pearls, and it’s also excellent for semi-precious stones.
How to Clean Antique Diamond Ring
Before cleaning your antique diamond ring, double-check to be sure that the setting is secure. Even though you’ll be working gently, you want to avoid dislodging any stones. If you find loose stones, get your item repaired by a jeweler. He or she will probably be happy to clean it for you as part of the restoration process.
If your ring is in good shape, then it’s time to start scrubbing! Lotion, oils from skin, lint from clothing, and other tiny bits of debris find their way into ring settings over time, causing diamonds to look dull and flat. It’s easy to restore their lively sparkle though; all you need is some club soda and some mild dish detergent.
Start by filling a small bowl or cup most of the way with club soda. Add a few drops of detergent and mix to create lots of bubbles. Place the ring inside a small strainer and submerge that in the bubbly solution. Allow your ring to soak for five to ten minutes, and then swish it around a bit to dislodge any loose grime. Use a soft toothbrush to give it a gentle scrub.
When you’re happy with the way your ring looks, return it to the strainer and give it a quick rinse under running water. Use a soft cloth to pat it dry and gently buff it to a shine.
Vintage jewelry can be worn and enjoyed as long as it is in good condition. Wearing your treasures can help keep them clean, but be sure that you remove rings when you’re doing dirty jobs or applying lotion. You can keep silver looking its best by storing it in an anti-tarnish bag between wearings.