Rhinestone jewelry emits sparkle and shine, but vintage pieces purchased from stores or online can sometimes benefit from a little cleaning. Properly caring for and cleaning this type of jewelry can help to restore luster to the rhinestones, returning them to their former glory. Cleaning can be tricky, however, because artists make the rhinestone jewelry by adhering flatback rhinestones with epoxy glue to backing, and improper care can damage the rhinestones by scratching them or dulling the finish, as well as loosen how securely the rhinestones stay in place. Therefore, it remains essential to properly clean rhinestones to keep them sparkling and to avoid causing damage to these beautiful works of art.
Types of Rhinestone Jewelry
Local antique and secondhand stores, as well as Internet outlets like eBay, often offer an assortment of vintage rhinestone jewelry. Many types of vintage rhinestone jewelry exist, including earrings, necklaces, and other stunning pieces.
When purchasing vintage orantique rhinestone jewelry, check the condition to look for missing or loose stones. If you shop online and cannot determine the condition, ask the seller.
Keeping Rhinestone Jewelry Clean
Two things cause rhinestones to sparkle: the foil backing on the back of the rhinestones, which reflects light; and the facets cut into the rhinestones that refract light. Many factors can dull the rhinestones and their settings, including skin oils, environmental substances, dust, cosmetics, water, and personal care products, so keeping them clean is important. Fortunately, you can keep your vintage rhinestone jewelry clean by storing it in a closed, moisture-free container lined with a soft material, and you should also avoid storing the rhinestones with materials that can scratch the surface, such as hard gemstone jewelry.
3 Key Steps to Cleaning Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry
Even when you take appropriate precautions, rhinestone jewelry can eventually grow dull without regular cleaning. Therefore, it is advisable to clean pieces every 3 to 6 months, or sooner if needed. To clean your jewelry, work in three steps using several simple tools, including paper towels, a soft natural fiber brush (a clean makeup brush works well), cotton swabs, compressed air, and isopropyl alcohol. You should not use water or harsh detergents, as they can damage the foil backing that adds sparkle to the rhinestones. Water and other substances may tarnish the foil, which removes the sparkle from the rhinestones.
1. Remove the Dust
Begin by preparing a place to work by lining a clean, flat surface with several absorbent paper towels and lay the jewelry on the towels, face-up. Using the compressed air, blow any dust or debris away using a gentle back and forth motion while expelling bursts of air, and then turn the piece over and repeat on the back side. Next, gently brush the back of the piece with a clean, soft-bristled makeup brush or paintbrush to remove any remaining dust. Using a gentle, sweeping back-and-forth motion, turn the piece over and brush the rhinestone side as well. Do not wipe the rhinestone with a towel, because this can cause any remaining particles of dust or debris to scratch the surface of the rhinestone.
2. Remove Dulling Dirt
To remove any dulling dirt, put a small amount of isopropyl alcohol in a container and dip a cotton swab in the alcohol. Then, dab the swab across the surface of the jewelry, including metal and rhinestone surfaces, removing dirt and debris and using the dry side of the swab to dab away any moisture that remains. Replace the swab as necessary and turn the jewelry over, repeating the process on the other side. Next, use the cotton swab to dab in the spaces between the rhinestones and clean away dust and debris from each opening.
3. Dry the Jewelry
If any dampness remains, gently blot the jewelry with the dry paper towels. In addition, make sure that the rhinestones dry completely before you wear them or return them to storage.