How to Clean Antique Jewellery

Friday 30th November 2018 - Della Bentham


How to Clean Antique Jewellery

We take a look at how to clean and care for antique jewellery...


While clothing fashions come and go, most jewellery can be pretty timeless. Whether modern or antique, diamonds really are forever, right? But, there’s something magical about antique jewellery, the wonder of who’s body it adorned, what it has seen and where it’s been that adds a kind of mysterious appeal.


Those that own antique jewellery or any antiques for that matter are effectively custodians, our time on this earth may be short in comparison to pieces that have survived 100, 200 or perhaps many more years.


That being said, it’s important to care for antique jewellery in the right way, to ensure that future generations get the same joy from it as the people that wore it before them.  We take a look at the top care tips for different types of antique jewellery below.


  • Before cleaning the jewellery cover the hallmark with a small piece of tape, to prevent it wearing down.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles to clean any crevices.
  • Use some hot water and a couple of drops of a mild dish soap to clean the jewellery.
  • Use a soft cloth to clean the jewellery to prevent it from becoming scratched.


Antique Silver


Silver is a soft metal, which means it will likely tarnish over time. If the cleaning steps above have not helped you can try the following:


For heavily tarnished items that dish soap and hot water hasn't worked on, make a paste by mixing 3 parts bicarbonates of soda with 1 part water. Apply with a soft cloth and work into the crevices with your soft toothbrush. Once the paste turns grey rinse it off the jewellery and buff to a shine.


Once clean use a good silver polish to try and prevent future tarnishing.


The most important piece of advice for silver is to WEAR IT – Silver won’t usually tarnish if it’s being worn. If you intend to keep silver jewellery stored away then you should store pieces in a protective silver storage bag.


Antique Gold & White Gold


Gold is another soft metal. The higher the carat, the softer it is. 24-carat gold is one of the softest metals that exists.


Invest in some specialist gold cleaning products if you can afford to as these will help to protect the metal.


Antique Platinum

Platinum is a much stronger metal than gold and silver. Over time a patina tends to develop on platinum. Some people like the look of this and believe it adds to the character of the piece. But, if you would like to return some lustre you can use the cleaning steps mentioned at the start. Because platinum is tougher you can soak the jewellery in warm water for longer, 30 to 40 minutes is usually sufficient.


Once soaked, rinse the jewellery and dry with a soft cloth.


Antique Jewellery with Gemstones


Jewellery with gemstones will require more care and attention, to prevent the stone from falling out of its setting. Because of this, it is always advisable to wash and clean these pieces in a small bowl. Use a soft bristle toothbrush around the stone setting.


Some stones like diamonds are hard and tough, while others are softer and may scratch. Pearls, for example, are extremely soft, as is amber, opal and lapis lazuli. Do your research on stones before attempting to clean them.


For softer stones, something like a makeup brush dipped in warm soapy water is the best option. DO NOT soak pearls they are porous.


DO NOT use a cloth around claw settings as fibres will get caught here.


Finally, if you feel like the stone is loose in its setting stop cleaning and take the jewellery to a professional jeweller to repair.