How to Maintain the Beauty and Luster of Antique Heirloom Jewelry

How to Maintain the Beauty and Luster of Antique Heirloom Jewelry

For many of us, a big part of our happiest memories as children are those about the wonderful people we knew as grandmothers, grannies, grandmas, nanas, etc.

Remember the long ago holidays, special family events, or church services, when our grandmothers would wear their finest jewelry such as rings, brooches, necklaces, earrings, watches, and stickpins? As the years have gone by, many of us have inherited some of those items.

If you are fortunate to own some of your grandmother’s, or other family member’s heirlooms, be sure to protect them. Here are some steps to maintain the beauty and luster of antique heirloom jewelry, so they can be enjoyed for generations to come:

There are several things to remember when caring for vintage and antique jewelry. According to eBay, here are a few elements which could cause deterioration over time:

  1. Scratching. Be careful that your jewelry isn't stored so that the pieces rub against each other. General scratching, at best, and loss of stones at worst could be the result. Leave room between the pieces and, if they are especially treasured, a soft pouch or cloth around them might be considered.
  2. Temperature changes. Any increases or decreases in temperature can affect aged mounting glue and could cause stones to fall out.
  3. Moisture. Jewelry's biggest enemy. Moisture can be the breeding ground for oxidation damage or rust damage, and pitting of metals. Also, all rhinestone jewelry is at risk of losing the foil backing of the rhinestones and loss of their luster if moisture comes in contact with them. Make sure that the jewelry is completely dry after any cleaning is done before putting it away.
  4. If you wear heirloom jewelry, it is important to remove your thems when doing household cleaning and other jobs, and particularly when doing any heavier cleaning or yard work or gardening.
  5. Containers. Not all containers are equal when it comes to storing jewelry. Oak cabinets give off fumes that can damage jewelry, so an oak jewelry box may not be your best choice. Many jewelry pieces come in small boxes, designed to store the piece. Even these can cause damage, in time, because they probably contain sulfur, which can damage the metal in gold and silver jewelry. Soft pouches or cloths around special pieces are a good choice. Other good choices are metal or plastic containers and zip lock bags. (Zip locks are especially good for rhinestone jewelry - if a stone gets dislodged, it stays in the bag!) If you have a large collection of display vintage jewelry, a curio cabinet is fine for storage.
  6. Keep items separate from each other, and be sure to store beaded jewelry flat, especially if it is strung on silk, because silk stretches over time.
  7. Keep jewelry away from sunlight, heat vents, and hot car interiors.
  8. Take photos of all your jewelry, and store the photos in a safe place.
  9. Have your heirloom jewelry appraised, and make sure your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance covers losses to your heirloom jewelry.
  10. Have our experts and Unicorn Jewelry appraise, repair, clean, and evaluate your jewelry heirlooms. We are always pleased to help our customers keep their antique jewelry items looking as bright and vibrant as back in the days when grandma proudly wore them.
Note: Set a reminder to have your new jewelry purchases, as well as your more expensive and heirloom items appraised a minimum of every two years. Place a small note on each jewelry box, reminding you of the two-year appraisal time.
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