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Don't buy a Cameo before you read this!
"10 Things You Should Know..."

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Cameo Jewelry Articles

How to Clean Estate Jewelry


by Preston Reuther 



Note: Before cleaning any old jewelry it is always recommended to see your trusted jewelry store in person and show them your vintage or antique jewelry. Ok you just found that perfect estate find and you absolutely love it right? Maybe it is that vintage ring or a beautiful gemstone bracelet from way back when. Whatever it is it needs to be cleaned right? WELL MAYBE!!!

In all our years of collecting estate jewelry we always come to the question of: SHOULD I CLEAN MY ANTIQUE JEWELRY OR SHOULD I NOT? It’s always good to keep your vintage jewelry clean and in top condition but you might weigh the risks. Here are 7 tips on keeping estate jewelry clean:

#1. What’s first when caring for estate jewelry? - The first thing you must remember is you are dealing with very old jewelry normally and it is fragile so be very careful with your jewelry. And be aware where you clean it. If the floor is concrete or tile and you drop your gemstone ring on it you may crack or destroy your gemstone. So always work over a pad or carpeted floor.

#2. Jewelry Cleaner – Don’t use big powerful jewelry cleaners such as an ultra-sonic cleaner. This machine may be great for certain jewelry but not on old estate jewelry pieces such as coral necklaces or vintage cameos.

#3. Vintage Gemstone Jewelry – The gemstone jewelry you have can last for generations if all your gemstones are held in tightly especially if they are prong held. To do this properly get an eye glass or loup and look at each prong and see if they are all holding tightly against the stone. If you see some space or a broken prong tip bring it in to your local jewelry at this point the repair is cheap to free.

#4. Antique Opal Jewelry – Opals are a special kind of jewelry and special care needs to be used on them. Such as: *Don’t put them together with your other jewelry as the face of the opal may get scratched against the metal of your other jewelry. *When you store your opal jewelry in a separate jewelry box do put in a small damp cloth to keep small cracks from appearing in your opal.

#5. All vintage or antique jewelry – Do not let anyone use a polishing wheel on any of your vintage jewelry. The patina on your vintage jewelry is important keep it there.

#6. Antique emerald jewelry – Never place your emerald jewelry into a ultra-sonic cleaner. It may crack a stone so just use a soft cloth and a liquid jewelry cleaner and rinse thoroughly.


#7. Old Shell Cameos – Antique Cameos or Vintage cameos carved from shell should be handled very gently. Always clean over a pad or soft area. Beware they can slip out of your hand and onto the floor so make sure its carpeted if possible. Don’t use any kind of harsh cleaners on them not even liquid jewelry cleaners because the shell will soak up the liquid and may stain the cameo permanently. When you clean the face of your cameo use a very soft tooth brush and just a tiny bit of white tooth past and gently clean it. Then rinse it with water thoroughly and pat dry.

These are seven inexpensive way to preserve your cherished old jewelry and keep them in top condition for years to come.


Preston Reuther is a Master Wire Sculptor that has been collecting, showing and selling cameos for more 20 years. He has written several e-books, 34 jewelry making dvds and over 1000 articles on jewelry design and creation. Visit his Cameo Collection at   or call him at 816- 689-2779




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