Heirloom or vintage jewelry holds a special magic for those who appreciate the artistry and history it represents. Heirloom jewelry can be especially meaningful as it represents perhaps a special grandmother or aunt. The fine jewelry may be a piece passed down from one generation to another. A collection of vintage jewelry may have been assembled over the years from estate sales, antique shops or dealers. While it may not have been owned by a family member, vintage jewelry is also a connection to our past. Whatever the origin and significance of your antique jewelry, special care and maintenance are required to prolong the life of heirloom or vintage jewelry and to keep it looking beautiful.
Level of Difficulty
Simple to Moderate
To ensure that fine jewelry necklaces, bracelets, earrings and rings are in the best shape, it's a good idea to have a jeweler check them over periodically. Your jeweler will make sure settings are tight and can determine if a pearl jewelry necklace or bracelet might need to be restrung. Any pieces containing precious stones should be examined as years of wear can loosen the settings. In addition to repairs, a jeweler will also clean the pieces with appropriate cleaning agents.
Storage is one of the most important elements for preserving the life of your heirloom jewelry collection. Tossing vintage jewelry into a drawer or storing pieces on top of each other will result in a tangled mess, broken jewelry, and a loss of value. All fine jewelry, old or new, should be stored separately to prevent scratching and tangles. You may choose to keep jewelry in a jewelry box lined with velvet or felt. Soft pouches or cloth are another good alternative. Zip lock bags also provide a safe option, especially for pieces with stones that may come loose.
Also, beaded pieces such as jewelry necklaces or bracelets strung on silk should be stored flat, as the silk can stretch over time. Heirloom jewelry should be stored in a cool place. Heat and moisture can wreck havoc on jewelry. Moisture specifically can cause a bluish-green chemical called verdigris to grow on vintage jewelry, especially on metal surfaces such as the neckline of a jewelry necklace.
Avoid jewelry cleaning products containing alcohol, acid or ammonia when cleaning heirloom jewelry. Make sure to use cleaning products that have been designed for a specific purpose, such as using sterling silver cleaner only on sterling silver. Always dry jewelry completely before storing. Even the smallest traces of moisture can cause damage on heirloom or vintage jewelry. Use a soft chamois cloth to dry pieces. Drying jewelry with paper towel is not a good idea as it can scratch surfaces.
Pieces such as turquoise, which is very porous, should not be cleaned with soap or cleaning solution. Instead, clean your turquoise jewelry necklaces, earrings and rings with a soft, dry cloth. Since most turquoise jewelry is set in silver, frequent wearing helps keep the silver from tarnishing.
Jewelry such as pearls and opals should be handled and worn carefully. Opals are prone to chipping so special care should be used when wearing. Real and cultured pearls are especially delicate and lose their luster easily. Avoid applying lotions, cosmetics and perfumes while wearing your pearl heirloom jewelry. Jewelry necklaces, rings and earrings should be put on only after these other products have been applied and you have washed your hands.
Diamond jewelry is especially beloved by many and the antique counterpart, such as grandmother's diamond ring, is finding a new resurgence with brides who appreciate vintage style. The hardest known gemstone, diamonds must be stored separately to keep surfaces from being scratched. Heirloom diamond settings in jewelry necklaces, earrings and rings should be carefully examined by a jeweler to ensure they are secure prior to daily or occasional wear.
Lewis Jewelers is proud to carry the full line of Pandora Jewelry. Pandora charms, Pandora bracelets and Pandora beads are only a part of the collection. For more information, Lewis Jewelers, 2000 West Stadium Blvd., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 48103, 877-88-LEWIS or visit the website.