Vintage Jewelry Durability

Let's just get it right out in the open. Vintage jewelry is delicate. Think about it. Depending on how old your piece is, it may have been through several decades of wear, being passed down from ancestor to progeny, being sold at estate sales, changing hands over and over.

This doesn't mean you can never wear your vintage jewelry. On the contrary! Jewelry--vintage or otherwise--is meant to be worn and enjoyed, and can last you a lifetime with proper care. Just remember that some pieces are more durable than others. A simple gold band can withstand a lot more than, say, an intricately carved filigree ring. And a diamond ring has the gemstone's hardness going for it, while engagement rings with emeralds and other gemstones may need a bit more TLC. Luckily, we've got you covered.

Know Your Jewelry Metals

Some metals used in jewelry are more durable than others. For example, 10 karat gold is harder than 24 karat gold, but platinum is much harder than gold of any karat measurement. This is one reason platinum is one of the more popular wedding ring metals. Knowing what kind of metal your vintage jewelry is made with will help you understand how to properly care for it.

Clean Your Vintage Jewelry--Gently

The first and most important thing to know is to never, ever use a store-bought cleaning solution on your vintage jewelry. It's just asking for trouble. Remember, your vintage jewelry is delicate, so it requires delicate care.

Store-bought solutions are often caustic, and can lead to loosened settings or other types of damage. And because they're harsh, they're definitely not meant for soft gemstones such as pearls. A better option is to clean your vintage jewelry yourself.

One of the easiest ways to do this is with a simple paste made from nothing more than baking soda and water. Be sure to apply it with a soft-bristled brush. This cleaning solution is not only mild, it rinses clean, so you're not left with residue on your jewelry that can attract dirt.

A diluted solution of one part ammonia mixed with two parts water can be used to clean durable metals like platinum and gold. However, softer gold such as 24-karat, may be too delicate, even for a weak solution, so be sure to check your jewelry's metal before you try it. This may also be an option for harder gemstones such as diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, but not for softer stones like aquamarines, emeralds, and amethysts.

The best way to clean pearls is to gently wipe them with a slightly damp, very soft cloth. You never want to get your pearls wet, especially a necklace or bracelet. If the string gets wet, it can take a very long time for the string that is actually inside the pearls to dry out. As long as it remains damp, it's possible for mildew to form, which would damage the pearls.

Have a Professional Clean It

Most problems can be solved by bringing in a professional. A Master Jeweler will know exactly how to clean your vintage jewelry without damaging it, and you won't have to worry about your delicate pieces.

Inspect Your Vintage Jewelry

Even if you don't wear them often, and your pieces have just been sitting in a velvet-lined jewelry box, you'll want to take them out and inspect them on a regular basis. Remember, this is vintage and antique jewelry, not something that was just made and is still strong. A vintage piece is delicate, and requires greater care and maintenance.

Gently remove each piece from its storage place, and examine it under a bright light. Look for minor damage such as scratches or dents, as well as damage that could affect the value of the piece, or cause you to lose gemstones. Check to make sure all the prongs holding a stone on a ring are in place, and are not bent. Inspect the clasps on bracelets and necklaces to ensure they close fully, and there are no open chain links or connectors.

You may not own a jeweler's loupe, but if you have a magnifying glass, you'll be able to get an even better view of potential problem areas that may not be visible to the naked eye.

If you note any damage, or any areas of concern, don't try to fix it yourself. You run the risk of further hurting the piece, or damaging it beyond repair. Better safe than sorry. A Master Jeweler will know exactly how to repair your vintage piece while maintaining its integrity.

Shop our carefully curated collection of aquamarine engagement rings, sure to withstand the test of time, and last as long as your love.

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