How To Protect Your Highly Valued Antique Jewelry

If you own estate or antique jewelry, you'll want to protect those heirloom pieces from damage, deterioration or theft. Preserving and safeguarding your antique jewelry means storing them properly and cleaning them periodically. Follow a few golden rules to keep those treasured pieces in the best possible condition and out of harm's way.

How to Properly Store Your Antique Jewelry

Whether you store your jewelry at home or in a safe deposit box at the bank, there are a few guidelines to follow for the best protection. Precious stones and metals may become scratched if they rub against other objects. Rather than toss your estate or antique jewelry pieces haphazardly in a box, separate each piece.

You can protect your fine jewelry by wrapping a soft microfiber or anti-tarnish cloth around each individual piece. After doing so, place each piece in a lined box designed for storing jewelry. Choose a box with multi-compartments for placement of earrings, rings and bracelets. Neck chains should be stored vertically to avoid snarls and tangles.

If you wish to travel with your rings, earrings or bracelets, you might place each piece in a zip-lock storage bag. Use extreme caution when storing or traveling with pearls, as they are very delicate. It's best to place the pearls in a softly lined pouch, then store the pouch in a hard protective box or case.

A rule to remember when storing your antique jewelry is to protect them from moisture and extreme temperatures. High humidity, excessive heat or exposure to the sun may cause discoloration or deterioration. For optimal storage, keep your antique jewelry in a climate controlled environment.

Protection From Fire and Theft

You will also want to protect your antique jewelry from fire and theft. Keep in mind that a fire-resistant safe doesn't necessarily mean it will protect against theft. For the best protection against both threats, choose a safe with a high fire rating and an electronic or dial lock.

You may choose from a stationary safe, a wall safe or even a hidden safe. The best way to secure any safe from theft is to anchor it in some way. Choose a safe made with pre-drilled holes for anchoring to a wood or concrete floor. The safe may include an anchoring kit with instructions.

Cleaning Your Antique Jewelry

It's a good idea to clean your antique jewelry after each use or after handling it. This will help remove the natural oils from your skin. Try the following methods:

  • Commercial jewelry cleaning products: If you choose a store-bought product, be sure it is intended for your specific type of antique jewelry. Never use abrasive ingredients such as ammonia or alcohol and be sure the cleaner is acid free.

  • Homemade Cleaning Solution: You might try soaking your jewelry in a mild dish detergent mixed with warm water. A few minutes should be adequate. Next, take a soft-bristled toothbrush to gently scrub away any dirt. Finally, rinse the jewelry thoroughly.

  • Jewelry Polishing Cloths: To clean your fine pearls, simply wipe them with a soft polishing cloth. To maintain the natural luster, dab a drop of olive oil on the cleaning cloth before wiping the pearls.

    A polishing cloth may also be used to clean your other fine jewelry. Be careful not to dislodge any gemstones. Look for cloths designed to clean silver and others made specifically for gold.

As a final thought, you should never try to use an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner on pearls or delicate gemstones. Soft stones and pearls may become cracked or loosened by the action of the machine. If you're uncertain how to clean any of your antique jewelry, seek advice from a professional jeweler or antiques specialist. 

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