The Dos and Don’ts of Cleaning Vintage Jewellery

Vintage Jewellery is classified as jewellery between the ages of 50 and 100 years, but a good clean can make your pieces look brand new. 

At The Vintage Jeweller we source and supply vintage and antique jewellery from every era: post-medieval (1500-1714), Georgian (1714-1830), Victorian (1839-1901), Art Deco (1920-1935), Vintage (1940s-1990s) and even contemporary pieces. Any jewellery that was produced 100 (or more) years ago (1921 or prior) is classed as antique. 

Cleaning your vintage jewellery is crucial for keeping it looking its best. Dirt, pollution, dust, lotions, soaps, sanitiser, and even air and moisture can all rob your jewels of their shine. Thankfully, jewellery of any age can be restored to glory with regular and correct cleaning procedures. 

How you clean your jewellery will depend on whether it’s silver, gold, contains stones, and its age, read our important dos and don’ts below: 

DO…

  • Know what your jewellery is made from – just because the band of your ring is silver in colour, does not mean that it is made from silver metal. Different metals require different cleaning solutions, and pieces with gemstones need to be treated more delicately than those without. 
  • Use a gentle cleaning solution – you can make your own, or buy at your local jewellers. 
  • Brush with a lint-free cloth or soft toothbrush. 
  • Rinse and thoroughly dry your jewellery – leftover liquid can cause damage to your piece, drying it post-clean is vital. 
  • Store jewellery in an appropriate box – jewellery boxes are great at protecting jewels from dust and dirt, but be sure that you don’t overfill them as that can cause scratching.  
  • Wear your jewellery – many owners or antique and vintage pieces are too afraid to wear them, but jewellery is designed to be worn. 

DON’T…

  • Submerge jewellery in cleaning solutions for too long – for delicate and fragile pieces it’s best to not submerge at all, and instead use a damp brush or cloth.
  • Clean with harsh chemicals, such as ammonia, household detergents and cleaning products containing bleach. Vintage jewellery deserves the utmost care and a gentler approach should be used. 
  • Polish jewellery too frequently – special cloths can be purchased to polish jewels at home, or jewellers can polish pieces during their regular clean. However, polishing will remove tiny amounts of gold dust each time. Polishing should only be done once or twice per year, it’s a great way to remove scratches and other signs of wear and tear. 
  • Wear jewellery while exercising, using harsh cleaning chemicals or swimming – chemicals we come into contact with daily can damage your vintage jewellery.
  • Expect it to look brand new – cleaning will restore some shine, but the beauty of vintage pieces is their age, and a clean will not remove that.  

Regular cleaning can help to increase the value of your vintage jewellery and improve the lifespan of your pieces. For a jewellery valuation click here and fill out the form in as much detail as you can. 

If in doubt, always consult a professional. For a deep clean, you should go to a trusted jeweller every 8-12 months, for a ‘good as new’ clean.