How to Clean Vintage & Antique Jewelry

We often get asked on recommendations for cleaning and care of antique or vintage jewelry so we thought we'd share some tips we use when dealing with our jewelry. 


To start with, know what your stones are and inspect the construction of your piece. Some stones and settings should not be in contact with water and scrubbing some surfaces can remove luster or even gold.


Closed back jewelry (think foiled Georgian stones or Victorian mourning pieces) are not recommended to get wet as moisture inside the compartments can impact the foil, hair, artwork or similar. For these pieces, use a polishing cloth if possible or lightly dampen a soft toothbrush and gently brush across dirty surfaces to remove any debris. Avoid any openings or damage that could let moisture into the compartments. 


Stones like diamonds, rubies, sapphires, spinels and topaz are a bit hardier and you can soak these with a touch of dish soap to loosen debris. Rings tend to gather build up from products, dead skin, lotions, soaps and more. These are best to soak when possible and then gently work at debris with a soft toothbrush.


If you have stubborn debris or a hard-to-reach area, never use a sharp object that could gouge your metals or chip your stones. Sometimes the end of a toothpick can help and isn't sharp enough to damage, but do be careful with pressure to make sure you aren't dislodging your gems. 


When in doubt, opt for a gentle jewelry cloth or soft toothbrush. There are no ultrasonic cleaners here as many stones, especially antique ones, are not safe for ultrasonic use (think pearls, emeralds, soft stones or stones with fissures, internal fractures, cracks, etc that can be negatively impacted by ultrasonic). This is also true of strong chemicals but things like skin-friendly dish soap can be useful to clean up jewelry - just remember to rinse thoroughly and dry properly. 


Happy Hunting (and cleaning)!