Antique Jewelry Care Guide

There's something special about antique jewelry. Aside from its beauty and charm, the fact that it has survived decades--possibly centuries--changing hands and going through who knows what, gives it a particular mystique.

When you buy older pieces such as necklaces, brooches, or antique rings, you want to give them the best care possible to ensure they survive another hundred years. This guide will help you keep your antique jewelry in gorgeous condition for many years to come.


The first thing to do in caring for your antique jewelry is to be conscious of how and when you wear it. You may not think everyday activities could harm your jewelry, but because of its age and more delicate nature, antique jewelry is more susceptible to the elements than your newer jewelry.

For example, you may be diligent about washing your hands, thinking you're helping to keep your antique rings clean, but that just means soap deposits are building up on your rings. Or maybe you have a habit of wearing an antique necklace while you work out, not realizing that sweat can damage delicate antique jewelry settings.

Even worse, if you swim while wearing your antique jewelry, the chlorine can wreak all kinds of havoc, and possibly cause damage that can't be repaired. And if you forget to wear gloves while cleaning house, you run the risk of getting all kinds of chemicals on your rings, and possibly other jewelry

But it's about more than just fluids and chemicals. If you're the outdoorsy type and you like to hike, it's best to remove your rings before you begin climbing. If not, you run the risk of scratching and even denting your jewelry. The same goes for other physical activity such as weightlifting, moving and carrying heavy boxes, anything that can put weight or stress on your jewelry.

And don't forget about gardening. That may entail literally submerging your rings in dirt, and why would you want to make the cleaning job harder on yourself?

Always remove your antique jewelry before washing your hands, working out, showering, swimming, or engaging in any other activity that may put undue stress on your beloved adornments. When in doubt, take your jewelry off, even your newer pieces. After all, they'll be antique pieces someday.


Now that you know regular hand soap isn't the ideal cleanser for your antique jewelry, what can you do to keep it clean and sparkling? You have a few options. But first, a caveat. Forget about those store-bought jewelry-cleaning solutions. They may work just fine for new jewelry, and for gemstones like diamonds. But remember, we're talking about antique jewelry that has made it through decade after decade of wear and tear. It's already in a delicate state.

Putting antique jewelry into a caustic cleaning solution increases the risk of the setting coming loose, or other damage. In addition, most of those cleaning solutions are not suitable for softer gemstones such as pearls, coral, or amber. So what do you do instead?

DIY Jewelry Cleaning

You may have heard people say that denture-cleaning tablets are ideal for wedding bands and other jewelry. They may very well work, and result in sparkling gems and metals. However, those tablets contain chemicals that, like the jewelry-cleaning solutions, can harm your precious items over time. They're best avoided.

Silver items can, of course, be cleaned with silver polish. However, even the most careful cleaning can get the polish on any gemstones set in the metal, or stuck in any fine carvings or filigree. Instead, try making a paste of baking soda and water, and using a soft-bristled brush to apply it. The solution is mild and natural, and easily rinses clean.

Gold and platinum can be cleaned with a mild detergent diluted with water. However, this may be a bit too harsh for softer gold such as 24-karat, so use caution. This also works for hard gemstones such as diamonds, sapphires and rubies, but not softer stones like emeralds.

To clean pearls, gently wipe them with a very soft, only slightly damp cloth. Take care not to get them wet. More specifically, you don't want to get the string wet. If this happens, it can take a very long time for the string inside the pearls to dry out, and you risk the formation of mildew, which can damage both the string and the pearls.

Professional Jewelry Cleaning

Problem solved! No need to worry about harsh chemicals, scratches, mildew, or any other damage if you have all your antique jewelry professionally cleaned. Jewelers know exactly how to clean all types of jewelry--including antique--without causing damage. You can rest easy knowing your antique pieces will be properly cared for.


While you may keep all your pieces in a jewelry box or a jewelry armoire, you need to take a few extra precautions with your antique jewelry pieces.

For example, when you hang your necklaces from hooks, especially hooks that are attached to doors, the necklaces swing and can bang against hard surfaces. This may be fine for gold necklaces and costume jewelry, but it's terrible for pearl necklaces. The constant impact against the door can scratch or otherwise damage your pearls.

Instead, store pearl necklaces, and all pearl jewelry, in a box lined with soft material, or a soft bag, each piece by itself, and the necklace not doubled up so that the pearls don't rub against each other. This will help maintain their luster.

Most other jewelry will do fine in a jewelry box, but do be careful with higher-karat gold which can scratch and dent easily if it bumps up against other, harder jewelry. Invest in a sturdy jewelry box with plenty of individual spaces to accommodate each piece of jewelry, antique and otherwise. Keep your jewelry box in a cool, dry place to avoid possible damage from heat and moisture.

Just a little knowledge and a few precautions can help keep your all your jewelry, including your antique pieces, beautiful for many more decades to come.

Now that you know how to care for it, you can find your perfect piece in our collection of antique rings, and keep it beautiful for a lifetime.

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