How to look after antique jewellery

How to look after antique jewellery

How to look after antique jewellery

Buying antique jewellery at auction is growing in popularity with a new generation of jewellery enthusiasts.

The combination of unique pieces by esteemed makers at inexpensive price points is an attractive proposition, but how do you ensure the pieces you buy remain in pristine condition? 

If you are new to the wonderful world of antique jewellery, this article by Dreweatts' Deputy Chairman and International Head of Jewellery, Silver, and Watches department, James Nicholson, provides some useful tips on how to keep your antique jewellery looking beautiful.

Inline Image - The combination of unique pieces by esteemed makers at inexpensive price points is an attractive proposition, but how do you ensure the pieces you buy remain in pristine condition?
The combination of unique pieces by esteemed makers at inexpensive price points is an attractive proposition, but how do you ensure the pieces you buy remain in pristine condition?

Be careful where and when you wear it

Jewellery, especially antique jewellery, needs care and attention not to deteriorate or to get damaged so it is strongly advised that you don’t wear your jewellery to do DIY, gardening, sporting activities and housework, or wear whilst swimming.

Keep your jewellery in individual pouches or cases

You should keep your jewellery in velvet or suede pouches or individual jewellery cases, rather than letting it all roll around together in a drawer or jewellery case, where it will definitely get scratched, and quite possibly tangled and damaged.

Inline Image - Lot 259: An early 20th century diamond bracelet, circa 1910 | Est. £700-1,000 (+fees) | Precious stones like the diamonds featured here should always be kept in individual pouches to avoid scratching and colour fade.
Lot 259: An early 20th century diamond bracelet, circa 1910 | Est. £700-1,000 (+fees) | Precious stones like the diamonds featured here should always be kept in individual pouches to avoid scratching and colour fade.

Be careful with liquids, cosmetics and household chemicals

Some stones such as opal, pearl, coral and turquoise can be quite porous, so you shouldn't leave these types of stone in any liquid for too long. Similarly, take care when using cosmetics, hair spray and other household chemicals near these stones, or they may become discoloured.

Regular gentle washes are recommended

From time to time, you can give your jewellery a very gentle wash in warm water and mild detergent, such as washing-up liquid, to remove grease and other build ups that may make it tarnish or look dull. 

A gentle brush with an old toothbrush can work wonders, but be careful not to dislodge any of the stones in their settings. A deeper clean and polish should only be undertaken by a professional jewellery workshop.

Keep pearls, foil-backed stones and stone cement out of liquids all together

Pearl jewellery should be wiped from time to time with a soft lint free cloth to prevent the build-up of dirt and cosmetics dulling their lustre.

Inline Image - Lot 277: (Part lot) An Arts and Crafts peridot and freshwater pearl pendant necklace by B. H. Joseph & Co., circa 1900 | Est. £200-300 (+fees) | The perfect example of a necklace that should be wiped with a soft lint free cloth
Lot 277: (Part lot) An Arts and Crafts peridot and freshwater pearl pendant necklace by B. H. Joseph & Co., circa 1900 | Est. £200-300 (+fees) | The perfect example of a necklace that should be wiped with a soft lint free cloth

Antique jewellery set with foil backed stones should never be immersed in any liquid, as this could irreparably damage the coloured foiling. 

The same goes for jewellery where the stones are stuck into their settings with stone cement like Edwardian half pearl jewellery, as immersing this in liquid can soften the cement and allow the half pearls to fall out.

The perfect start to your collection

We hope this article has helped pique your interest in antique jewellery and settle any care concerns you may have had.

If you’re looking to make a purchase or add to your collection, our Jewellery, Silver, Watches, Objects of Vertu, Coins and Medals auction on 12 August offers a wonderful selection of pieces dating from 1800-1910 at inexpensive price points from £100-£1,000 (+fees).

AUCTION DATE & LOCATION

Wednesday 12 August | 10.30am

Donnington Priory, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2JE

VIEWING:

  • Our specialists will be providing detailed condition reports and additional images as requested.
  • Our Remote Viewing Service also allows you to preview the auction from the comfort of your own home at a time convenient to you | This service will be available Thursday 6 August | Find out more
  • Viewing in person will be by appointment and in accordance with Covid-19 regulations:
    • Thursday 6 August: 10am-5pm
    • Friday 7 August: 10am-5pm
    • Monday 10 August: 10am-5pm
    • Tuesday 11 August: 10am-5pm

Please note: There is no viewing on the morning of the sales.

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With special thanks to Tilly Thorns-Hartley for modelling the jewellery in this article.

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