How To

Keep Your Antique Jewellery Clean and Maintained

Keep Your Antique Jewellery Clean and Maintained

Jewellery, given the proper care and service, can last a lifetime, or more! How to properly and responsibly clean your pieces might be easier than you think! To ensure the longest life of your amazing piece, we recommend the following care and maintenance steps.
Jewellery is delicate by nature and we encourage customers to take extra care when wearing it daily. An easy tip is taking off your rings when you are doing rough handwork that may damage the stone or the shape of a ring.

Gold is a malleable (soft) substance and a fine setting or a band can be bent and warped. When metal bends it can cause stones in their settings to fall out. We also recommend taking your jewellery off when washing your hands, showering, sleeping, doing housework, exercising and even while dressing. This is to ensure that it doesn’t catch on items of clothing or anything that may lift setting claws and loosen stones.

Jewellery is very delicate and needs to be worn accordingly. Annual maintenance of your jewellery is recommended. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee wear and tear, so you need to consider the design of the piece you have chosen and treat it with great care to enjoy the full benefit of your exquisite piece now and into the future!

Cleaning your Jewellery

During the course of its life with you, your piece will often get dirty through the natural course of wearing it. If this occurs, we suggest you clean it using a special solution of cloudy ammonia and warm soapy water, scrubbing it with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

The solution can be made up with two caps full of the cloudy ammonia to approx 1 cup of soapy water. Leave it to soak for around 10-minutes, and then give it a good scrub with your soft-bristled toothbrush to remove the dirt. This mixture is recommended for all metal jewellery, diamonds and most precious gemstones.

If you are not too sure about making your own, we stock a great number of quality jewellery cleaning kits.

Ensuring all care is taken to prolong the life of your extraordinary pieces, there are a few gemstones that require a little more specialised attention in their care and maintenance. If at any point, you feel that this is too much, or you’re not confident, we have professional cleaning services for any and all jewellery types. You can contact us at any time to book a cleaning.


After every wear, give your Pearls a quick wipe down with a damp cloth to remove grime and to maintain your Pearl’s lustre. Hairspray and perfume should never be sprayed directly onto pearls as they act as a stripping agent and cause pearls to lose their lustre or shine. Once this is gone it cannot be replaced as cultured pearls are made up of tiny layers, like skin.

Pearls should be re-strung every 2-years on a premium silk thread to maintain their quality and structure. We have supurb Pearl and bead re-threaders should you require the service.


It is always suggested that Opals be stored with water or in cotton wool to prevent drying out and cracking over long periods of time. Easily scratched, Opals can develop a blurry surface. These faults can be restored by a skilled gem polisher who can buff the surface of the stone.

Opals that are not solid, like doublets or triplets, are made up of thin layers with a top or a bottom backing. These Opals should not be exposed to moisture or water. Doing so would result in an irreversible white shadow-like appearance.


Another porous stone, like the Opal, needs to be carefully treated when cleaning. Many antique pieces have a variety of colours of turquoise. There are basically two types of turquoise, Persian Turquoise with a fine aqua blue colour and Mexican Turquoise – with a lot of clay inclusions.

The reason why turquoise darkens with time is due to acids attacking the surface of the stone. Some antique pieces have gone from a fine aqua blue to dark green in a space of a few years.

Turquoise should be wiped over regularly with a damp cloth removing skin acids. Turquoise should also, like Pearls, not be sprayed with hairspray or perfumes. The acids in these will cause Turquoise to change colour rapidly, which is irreversible.


Being a porous stone, Emeralds have a great ability to draw in foreign substances. In today’s market, about 90% of all Emeralds are treated in one way or another after the cutting process, before setting.

They’re treated either with an oil-like substance to hide inclusions or with a dye used to give it a deeper green appearance, above and beyond the natural colouring. Widely accepted as the standard now, Emeralds are expected to be treated unless proven otherwise.

Cleaning a treated Emerald is a slightly difficult task – using only warm soapy water for a short period of time and dried immediately with a soft cloth.

No matter what your jewellery is made from, or what stones it contains, the proper care and maintenance can add decades to its life. Ensuring your pieces, even if new, age beautifully joining the next generation of antiques! Should you require any special advice or you’d like us to do it for you, you’re invited to give us a call, or come in and see the team for a cleaning or any repair work.


About Elizabeth Stevens

As the Principal of Chilton's Antiques and with close to 30-years experience in the industry, CINOA, AAADA and NCJV noted expert, Liz Stevens is a consummate professional. Lecturing and writing papers on Gemology and Antique pieces internationally, as well as hosting a 7-year running Antiques Radio Show on 2UE.