How to Clean Vintage Jewelry

While the quality of vintage costume jewelry is remarkable, it's still important to know how to care for your pieces so that they continue to last for decades to come. Since vintage jewelry spans so many decades, we've broken it down into three general types to discuss. 

1. Gold and Silver Plated: These styles are fully plated (without any enameling, precious stones, rhinestones or pearls) and are the easiest to clean! Since we clean such large qualities at a time, we use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner along with a cleaning solution called Gem Oro. This technique uses high frequency waves and heat to clean dirt from even the smallest of crevices. 

When you only have a few pieces to clean, an even mixture of windex and cool water works great too. I recommend dipping them in the solution for no longer than a few minutes, gently scrubbing them with a soft toothbrush and then rinsing with warm water. 

When you lay these pieces out to dry, ensure about 24-48 hours before storing them away. Sometimes water gets stuck in between charms or other design details so be sure to keep this in mind and don't hesitate to use a soft rag to collect all traces of water. 

2. Enamel and Precious Stones: These pieces are too delicate to go into an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. We recommend either cleaning these pieces with a soft, dry toothbrush or the windex and water mixture as mentioned above. Use your discretion based on the intricacies of the design. Also, make sure to allow for proper drying time.

3. Rhinestones and Pearls: The most important rule here is to never get rhinestones or pearls wet as it can ruin the stones and cause discoloration. The only exception is when you're dealing with real diamonds; those can go into an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner. I've found that using a compressed gas duster and/or a soft, dry toothbrush can help remove any soil.

While we don't change or alter any of the original designs, we do check each piece to make sure that clasps and stones are in working condition. We do tighten any necessary components, make small stone repairs and put new earring backs on all pierced earrings. I recommend a pair of long flat nose pliers and a set of picks for your basic cleaning and repair needs.

If you're making small stone repairs at home, I recommend using an epoxy glue (this one here has a needle tip applicator) as it works the best for the base metal most commonly used with vintage jewelry. We love buying replacement stones from online retailer Fire Mountain Gems, they have the best selection! Another tip, if you need to clean residual glue off of a rhinestone, use a q-tip dabbed in pure acetone. 

And as always, you will receive a free velour pouch with every S&S purchase, which we recommend you store your pieces in when you're not out Sparkin'!

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