Heirloom Jewelry: Restore & Cherish the Past

Connecting to the past has plenty of benefits. It connects us to the culture that led to our existence and gives us a better sense of continuity and perspective. One way to connect with the past is through heirloom jewelry. 

The problem with heirloom jewelry is the same as the problem with anything that has survived generations: it can be hard to care for. Knowing how to treat a delicate piece can make the difference between having something that will last a lifetime and ruining it entirely. 

So, how do you care for heirloom jewelry? Keep reading to find out.

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Restoring Heirloom Jewelry

Most people don't want to wear heirloom jewelry that is in really rough condition. These pieces have major problems that will look strange if worn out. In addition, some pieces cannot be worn due to their age. A necklace missing a clasp or an earring missing a prong are not pieces that can be worn. Instead, jewelry suffering from these issues or issues like these will need to be restored before being used. 

This often requires help from experts. Precious stones may need to be re-cut. Meanwhile, semi-precious stones may need to be replaced entirely, depending on their condition. In both cases, an expert needs to handle the job. 

Some pieces may also require intense cleaning. While it is entirely possible to clean jewelry on your own, giving it a deep cleaning may require an expert's touch. 

In addition, experts can help repair the structure of the piece. A necklace may need to be restrung, or the prongs on a ring may need to be bent back into shape. 

Refurbishing Heirloom Jewelry

Heirloom jewelry doesn't always need to be restored from the ground up. A piece that is in better condition can be refurbished instead. This will give it an entirely new lease on life. 

Refurbishing a piece primarily involves giving it a thorough cleaning. Any debris and dirt need to be cleared from the piece entirely. Then, it needs to be polished.  

However, cleaning heirloom jewelry in this way needs to be done with a high level of care. These pieces are old and often fragile. Plus, many different types of gemstones are delicate by nature. Because of this, there are a few specific guidelines to follow.

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While removing debris and dirt, make sure to use a soft brush or cloth to avoid scratching anything. When using any cleaning solution, make sure it is not too abrasive and double-check that it is ok to use on the materials you are cleaning. When applying the cleaning solution, do not apply it directly to the jewelry; put it on a cleaning cloth first. Finally, once you are done cleaning, make sure to dry the piece completely. 

In some cases, refurbishing heirloom jewelry still requires replacing some material. This may happen if a piece has rusted too much or has lost too much of its luster. In these cases, it may be necessary to have a professional look at it.

Reinventing Heirloom Jewelry

Sometimes, an heirloom jewelry piece may hold a great deal of sentimental value but doesn't look that great. It may be that the piece doesn't fit in with modern styles or simply doesn't suit your wardrobe well. In these cases, reinventing the piece is the best option. 

Reinventing heirloom jewelry means changing the look of the piece while still preserving aspects of it. So, in the end, it looks different than it did before but is still composed of elements from the original. This is a great way to modernize old jewelry

For example, imagine a diamond ring with a gorgeous and perfectly cut diamond at the center. However, the setting surrounding it is a little too old-fashioned. The diamond itself could be removed from this piece and placed in a setting that its owner finds more to their taste. So, the final product still preserves the original diamond but presents it in a way that the owner prefers. 

Related: How To Clean Beaded Jewelry: Clean Beads Easily

Reinvention like this can take on many forms. You may seek to preserve the stone at the center of a piece. However, you can just as easily opt to replace the stone in a piece with something of a higher quality level or something entirely different. It can even be used to transform jewelry entirely, such as a necklace being turned into a bracelet. In general, imagination is the only limitation here. 

Storing and Caring for Heirloom Jewelry

Once a piece of heirloom jewelry has been restored, refurbished, or reinvented, it will still need care and attention. This prevents the piece from degrading to the point where it will need to be worked on again in the future. 

First off, make sure your jewelry is clean before storing it. If you store it in a dirty state, then it is destined to come out in a dirty state. In addition, ensure that it is dry as well. Storing jewelry while wet is an open invitation to problems like rust. In a similar vein, try to store jewelry in a place with a low level of humidity. 

When putting jewelry away, keep the pieces separate. This lessens the likelihood of tarnishing and keeps them free from tangling. Try to store them in muslin or foam while doing so. 

You should also be careful of what you do when you take your jewelry back out. One big thing to look out for is how your perfume will interact with your jewelry. Some jewelry is sensitive to the chemicals within perfume. For example, pearls are vulnerable to most types of perfume. Because of this, you should either avoid bringing your jewelry into contact with perfume or apply it several minutes before putting on your jewelry. 

Related: How To Clean Stainless Steel Jewelry: 6 Methods To Try At Home

Keeping Your Heirloom Jewelry

A beautiful piece of heirloom jewelry can be a wonderful addition to any collection. However, you may need to work with it to make it look just right. Sometimes this means cleaning it up or having it entirely restored; other times, this means transforming it into something new. Ultimately, the choice is yours, as long as you are sure to continue to care for the piece afterward.  

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