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How to Care for Vintage Jewelry

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How to Care for Vintage Jewelry

Vintage jewelry can be a historical treasure, these unique pieces hold stories of the past. This guide will give you the tools you need to properly clean, store, and preserve your pieces.

Vintage jewelry can be a historical treasure, ranging from deco diamonds to art nouveau elegance, these unique pieces hold stories of the past. Unlike their modern counterparts, vintage jewelry requires a touch more love to keep them sparkling. This guide will give you the tools you need to properly clean, store, and preserve your pieces. With a little help, your vintage jewelry will continue to be conversation starters for years to come, bringing a little bit of the past into present and future ensembles.


Here at GoodWood, we're passionate about preserving history and giving vintage pieces a new life in your home, closet, and wardrobe, and we’re especially fond of vintage jewelry. To keep your pieces in tip-top shape, we recommend regular cleaning to help extend their lifespan, maintain their brilliance, and keep them looking their best. 


Read on for some simple tips  to properly clean, store and preserve your pieces to ensure they stay in prime condition for years to come!


Setting the Stage:

Before washing away grit and grime, it’s important to prep your jewelry by gently sweeping away any dust or debris using a soft brush or cloth. This step helps remove anything that might scratch your jewelry’s finish and leaves you with an unblemished surface ready for cleaning and polishing.

Some debris may be too small to see with the naked eye, so having a magnifying glass or a jewelry-specific loupe on hand can be helpful.


Removing Grit and Grime:

After removing surface debris, it’s time to clean your jewelry using an appropriate cleansing solution. However it’s important to remember that not all vintage pieces respond well to the same methods so it’s important to do your homework as cleaning methods can vary depending on the type of metal or stone.


We recommend purchasing a material-specific professional cleaning solution, but jewelry can also often be safely cleaned using household ingredients, a soft cloth, and the following methods:


●      Vintage gold and platinum: Soak jewelry in a diluted ammonia mixture (1 part ammonia to 6 parts lukewarm water) for ten minutes or less, being careful not to let it sit too long as it can cause damage if you overdo it. Once removed from the solution, use the softest toothbrush you can find to gently brush away any residual dirt/grime.

●      Vintage silver: Silver jewelry often responds well with a gentle cleansing using a baking soda paste (2 parts baking soda to 1 part water). Gently cover the jewelry in the paste, let it dry completely, then wipe off gently using a microfiber cloth to remove tarnish.  Make sure to handel your piece with care, as silver is weaker/more delicate than gold and platinum.

●      Pearls: Pearls are delicate and do not require harsh chemicals to keep clean. In fact, the natural oils from your skin can help them maintain their luster. For occasional cleanings, use a touch of olive oil.


Finishing Touches:

Now that your piece has been cleaned, it’s time to dry and polish. Never rub your jewelry dry, instead gently blot it with a soft, clean cloth to avoid any unwanted streaks. After soaking up excess moisture with a cloth, we recommend airdrying your pieces, making sure to flip them occasionally for even drying.

Once completely dry, it's important to polish your piece with a polishing cloth. This final step will rejuvenate and breathe new life into it.


How to Safely Stow-Away:

Give your jewelry some space and avoid storing them together or you risk irreparable tangles and unsolvable knots. This can also cause scratches, tarnishing, and even broken clasps.


Watch out for moisture by keeping your jewelry away from bathrooms and humid areas. Opt for cool, dry storage spaces instead. We always recommend velvet pouches or compartments to further protect your vintage pieces from dust and minor scratches.


With these cleaning and storage tips in mind, you are equipped with the knowledge to better care for your vintage jewelry. A little love goes a long way in keeping your pieces intact and ensures that you can wear them with confidence - they deserve it!


Ready to start your own collection or give your existing pieces some company? Visit the store and shop our latest finds!

*Images do not necessarily reflect current inventory.




GoodWood is located in the Marden Building on the corner of U St NW & Waverly Place. We are located next to CityFirst Bank.

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