Got a Tarnished Heirloom? Here's How to Clean Vintage Jewelry

If you have an heirloom in your collection, you want to keep it looking nice. However, even with the best care, these pieces can get dirt, grime, or tarnish on the surface. Since these heirlooms are delicate, you need safe ways to keep them clean. Without proper cleaning, the piece may lose some of its luster. By keeping them in pristine condition, you may even be able to pass these items to your child and grandchildren. Here are a few ways to clean your vintage jewelry pieces. 

Choose the Best Cleaning Product

Some cleaners on the market may claim to be "all-purpose" or "general "cleaners, but that is simply not true. You need to find a product that will clean your jewelry's metal or gemstones. Depending on the stone and metal, you will want to follow different procedures. Some chemical compositions can damage or cloud a gem.

Over time, gold can darken without a cleaning. In that case, you will want to use a cleaner with ammonia and water. You can also clean platinum pieces in this manner. However, ammonia is a powerful chemical. It can damage the piece if you leave it on metal for too long. Silver can be a hard-to-clean metal. If you use a harsh cleaner, it can tarnish the jewelry. Using a diluted baking soda solution often takes over the dirt and grime from the surface, keeping your silver pieces looking shiny. 

Related: How to Clean Your Pearls: Gently and Effectively

Many people use a dish detergent to clean those platinum and gold items, but only if they don't have a setting or gemstones. Detergents can leave a film over the stones. Sapphires, rubies, and diamonds can handle high levels of what and are tolerable to ammonia cleaning solutions. However, you could damage many other gemstones in those solutions. 

For those who have pearls in the heirloom piece, you may want to skip the cleaning solution. Wearing them will allow your skin's natural oils to keep up their luster. You may even want to take a little bit of olive oil and wipe down the stones. 

You may want to use a professional cleaning solution manufactured by a reputable brand. If you have any doubt, sending the piece for a cleaning by a jeweler may be your best bet. Talking to a jeweler may help you choose the right option for your particular piece. They know all the risks and benefits of using specific solutions for certain stones and metals. 

Before you put your antique pieces in any solution, look at the chemicals. The last thing you want is to damage an heirloom piece by selecting the wrong solution. A cleaning product needs to be designed for your unique metal and stones. Otherwise, the pieces can become severely damaged.

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Use a Soft Brush

If you want to make your cleaning job easier, take a few minutes to use a soft brush and lightly brush the surface of the pieces. It is essential to go slow and gently. Otherwise, you could loosen up small particles that could scratch the surface of the heirloom. Most dirt and debris cannot be seen with the naked eye. You may want to use something like a magnifying glass to help with this task. Use a soft toothbrush to loosen up those tough spots if you notice any easy debris. By completing this step, you can apply the cleaning solution or liquid to the surface for more effective cleaning. 

Related: How to Clean Costume Jewelry: 3 Easy Ways 

Apply the Cleaning Solution To a Cloth

After finding the correct solution for your heirloom, you will want to apply the solution - but not directly on the piece. Take a soft cloth and add the solution to it. Once you have done that, you can gently rub the piece to clean it. The fabric should not be soaking wet. A little solution will go a long way. Use soft Q-tips to reach those tricky spots if your jewelry piece has many crevices. 

With some solutions, you will want to soak the pieces. Allow them to soak for a couple of minutes to a few hours. Once again, follow the directions on the cleaner or ask your jewelry for some advice. 


special cleaning methods will protect your jewelry



Always Thoroughly Dry the Piece

Once you have cleaned your jewelry, you don't want to forget the most crucial step - drying it. If you happen to leave any solution or liquid on the surface, it could damage the stones or metal. Moisture can destroy any type of jewelry, especially those antique and heirloom pieces. 

After the items have been in liquid, flip them over for about 15 minutes. With some help from gravity, all that excess liquid will move away from the surface. Wicking away the moisture from the settings is vital, or you can damage the piece. 

Related: How To Clean Beaded Jewelry: Clean Beads Easily

Polish the Jewelry

Finally, you are at the last step: polishing. Take a special cloth and lightly polish your heirloom piece. You can find these special polishing cloths at jewelry stores or online shops. These items are inexpensive but can bring a little more shine back to your jewelry pieces


heirloom pieces can be passed to other generations



Take Special Care with Heirlooms

Heirloom pieces need to be treated with care. You will want to last for many more years. Always check the cleaning solution and be careful as you brush away dirt and debris. With that, you can keep up the appearance of these stunning antique pieces. 

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