LAPADA Guide to Caring for Antique Jewellery

Olivia, Nicholas & Matthew Gerrish
Olivia, Nicholas & Matthew Gerrish
The Antique Jewellery Company

Like all the beautiful things in life, jewellery requires care when being handled. Here are some tips on how to look after your collection.

Our guide to caring for antique jewellery will keep your collection sparkling. Like all the beautiful things in life, antique jewellery requires care, and here Olly Gerrish from The Antique Jewellery Company shares insider tips.


Take care not to drop, bash or scratch

Store your jewellery in a safe, soft environment – a fabric-lined jewellery box is ideal

Remove your jewellery when applying scent, lotions and potions – better still, avoid having to think about it by putting your jewellery on last when you get dressed

Polish your jewellery regularly with an old, soft cloth

If your jewellery has been neglected and needs an industrial clean, give it to your local jeweller to revive with a polishing machine


Avoid wearing your antique jewellery while using corrosive cleaning products. If you would rather not be constantly removing your rings keep a pair of rubber gloves to hand and cover up!

Don’t wear your jewellery to do the gardening

Don’t take your jewellery on holiday unless you are realistic about the chance of losing it in transit or the prospect of it being robbed

Don’t wear your rings in the sea! Fingers contract in the cool so they are likely to fall off


Platinum is hardwearing and suitable to be worn every day but needs care to avoid being scratched

Platinum jewellery can be cleaned with mild soapy water and a soft toothbrush; fairy liquid is perfect if you are unsure of which soap to use

Platinum will develop a natural patina over time which can be polished off without trouble


Gold is the only precious metal that will not tarnish, as it is free of oxides. It is not, however, a particularly hard metal so care needs to be taken not to scratch it

As a rule, the higher the gold content, which is indicated by the carat weight, the softer the metal. Try to wear pieces of a similar carat weight together in order that they cause the least possible mutual harm

A soft, lint-free cloth is an effective way to keep gold jewellery looking its best and maintain its patina

Gold is particularly vulnerable to harm caused by chlorine, so care should be taken not to wear your gold in the pool


Silver tends to tarnish but is less likely to discolour the more it is worn

Either polish your jewellery with a clean soft cloth (a duster is perfect), or soak it in warm soapy water before using a soft bristle brush to remove dirt

Chlorine has an adverse affect in silver so avoid wearing it in the pool


As an organic material, pearls are much softer than other gemstones and can be easily scratched

Pearls will maintain their lustre with regular wear. Ensure you put them on last, once you are dressed and have applied your scent and wipe them with a soft cloth as you take them off

Get your pearls restrung relatively regularly. Traditionally a good pearl stringer will tie a knot between each pearl for security, so if one falls off you won’t lose the lot!

Keep your pearls isolated from the rest of your jewellery to avoid them getting scratched

Do not use chemical cleaners, especially those containing ammonia and bleach, as this will destroy their lustre

Do not expose pearls to a high heat: there is a tendency for them to crack given they are organic and have high water content


Despite diamonds being extremely hard they have been known to crack and chip particularly in contact with other diamonds. Take care to store diamond pieces separately to avoid them scratching against each other


Gemstone hardness is based on the Mohs scale, where a high number correlates to a hard stone and a lower the number indicates a more fragile stone. It is worth taking this into account when buying, handling and storing antique jewellery

An accumulation of dirt and residue is inevitable if you wear your jewellery regularly, and can easily be cleaned. Use the Mohs scale to guage the best way to clean your jewellery

Gemstones at 7 and above on the Mohs scale can be cleaned with warm water, a splash of Fairy liquid and a soft toothbrush. For gemstones less than 7, use a soft cloth rather than a soft brush

Examples of gemstones that are vulnerable to damage by chemicals, water and even sunlight are amethyst,aquamarine, beryl, citrine, kunzite, rose and smoky quartz. In some instances overexposure may lead to discolouration

Opal, pearl and turquoise are relatively porous and should not be submerged in water for too long

Take great care when cleaning emeralds which are particularly susceptible to damage and imperfections. Ensure your emeralds do not go through an ultrasonic cleaning device as it will have an adverse effect on the oil coating that emeralds are often given to disguise flaws

We hope our guide to caring for antique jewellery

Olly Gerrish of The Antique Jewellery Company


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