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Vintage finds and how to clean them up

If you have found a piece of vintage jewellery, it’s likely to need polishing to restore its lost sparkle. However, you can’t use the same cleaning methods for all jewellery as it depends on the metal and the extent of the work needed.

Use this article as a basic guide, but if you’re not sure what the jewellery is made of or if it is a valuable piece, always seek advice from a specialist first.

Cleaning jewellery

For light layers of dust and dirt, a surface cleaning will be enough. Begin by using a soft cloth to wipe it. If it is still dirty, you can use regular household products like cotton buds or toothpicks, but be careful not to scratch the surface.

Silver can be cleaned with a baking soda paste. Apply the paste to the jewellery and polish it gently before wiping the piece clean and then dry it with a microfibre cloth. Never put jewellery away damp.

Alternatively, you can use a commercial jewellery cleaner or take the piece to be professionally cleaned.

Cleaning gold jewellery

For gold jewellery if the dirt isn’t ingrained a gentle wipe should suffice, although running it under warm water and drying it with a microfibre cloth may be enough.

For ingrained dirt, regular dish soap, lukewarm water and a baby toothbrush may work, but you must be careful not to scratch the jewellery.

You can use natural cleansers or commercial products on tarnished gold jewellery. A vinegar solution may work. Add some vinegar to water and soak the piece in it for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pat it dry afterwards.

Whatever you do, if the jewellery is set with stones always speak to a gemmologist before you attempt to clean it in case they might be damaged.

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