How to Care for Luxury Estate Jewelry

Whether it’s an heirloom passed down through generations of your own family or an eye-catching treasure purchased at auction, luxury estate jewelry deserves special attention to keep it at its sparkling best. But one might ask, how is that best achieved, and more importantly, how can a jewelry owner be sure that the cleaning product they’re using is safe for both the gemstones and the precious-metal setting?

We have the answers. But before we get to that, let’s stress what any estate jeweler would tell you: It’s important to maintain fine jewelry. The longer you wait between cleanings, the greater the potential for loss of shine. But don’t let the process of cleaning your luxury estate jewelry intimidate you. It’s definitely something you can do yourself, as long as you follow a few simple guidelines.

Aletto Bros. Colombian emerald and diamond earrings. LiveAuctioneers/Fortuna Auction image

Tip: Before you begin, take the time to bring your estate jewelry to a trusted jeweler for an inspection.

This is something you should do periodically. It shouldn’t cost much, and in some cases jewelers won’t charge you at all.

One of the most common processes to restore the sparkle to estate jewelry that has dulled is available in every household: soap and water.

Estate Art Deco sapphire and diamond ring, brilliant cut. Jasper52 image

According to the Gemological Institute of America, the same organization that first brought to light the ‘4 Cs – carat weight, color, clarity, and cut),’ most colored gems can be cleaned with warm water, mild dish soap and a soft brush. Keep in mind, the soap should not be automatic dishwasher soap or hand soap. Also, although obvious, the GIA advises rinsing jewelry in a glass of water, and not directly in the sink.

With a business built on the belief that jewelry should be worn and adored, the multinational Hueb jewelry company, now led by third generation Hueb family members offers several recommendations.

Tip: To brighten gold jewelry and mounted stones, use a minute amount of mild dish soap combined with club soda. After cleaning with the bubbly mixture, carefully rinse the piece with fresh, cold water and dry with a soft cloth.

Cartier platinum, sapphire and aquamarine brooch. LiveAuctioneers/Brunk Auctions image

“Studies show that the bubbles in club soda are very effective for removing debris in hard-to-reach corners,” Hueb site states.

When it comes to more porous stones, including pearls and turquoise pieces, Hueb’s specific advice is: Never soak them as a method of cleaning.

Purchasing a polishing cloth made specifically for jewelry is an inexpensive, but worthwhile investment. If you opt to use your own cloth, make sure you don’t use it for anything other than polishing jewelry.

Some say the device used to clean a piece of estate jewelry is as important as the cleaning concoction. The Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company says to use a “new, baby-size soft toothbrush.”

Antique Georgian rose-cut diamond, gold and silver lady’s chocker necklace. LiveAuctioneers/Kodner Galleries image

In addition, if you remember the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, you’ll be familiar with another bit of advice Jewelers Mutual offers: Make sure the water you use isn’t too hot or too cold, but just right. Gemstones don’t react well to extreme changes in temperature.

A little loving care can go a long way toward keeping the sparkle and shine in your favorite luxury estate gems and jewels. They’ve lasted this long, and if you give them the attention they deserve, they’ll retain their beauty for many years to come.