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How to Clean Rhinestone Jewelry

1. The number one rule: Never, oh never, immerse your rhinestone jewelry in any kind of liquid. Water ruins the thin foil lining the back of the stone, sometimes almost immediately for older rhinestones, and eventually even new stones will turn dark, or develop black edges. A very sweet look in truly antique jewelry, but otherwise--yuck! It's NO FUN to try to replace rhinestones. Some contend that water doesn't ruin foil, but admit that if the foil is already degraded; water will ruin it. Foil does degrade, but why hurry the process?
2. One way to keep rhinestones shining in between cleanings is to simply spray a little bit of soft water or window cleaner on a paper towel to barely dampen. And then just buff the piece of jewelry briefly. This will really bring out the sparkles.

3. Always use spray-on products such such as hairspray or cologne before you don the jewels. These products will do damage ranging from gumming up the glittering beauties to removing Aurora Borealis Coating.

4. 409 is unpredictable. If you're going to do a 409 test for bakelite on rhinestone jewelry, be very careful none of the 409 makes contact with the rhinestones.

5. Keep your rhinestone jewelry in a jewelry box, or in some other place that breaths but is far away from dust, which damages stones, plating, and gets in nooks and crannies making it difficult to clean. If you don't have enough room in your jewelry box, small cardboard boxes with cotton are good. Storing for long periods in plastic baggies encourages verdigris, a green corrosion that can ruin jewelry, and any airless place is bad for celluloid jewels.

6. If you care for your rhinestones properly by taking the above simple steps, you won't have to deep clean the jewelry often, perhaps never.

7. But if and when you do need to clean rhinestones, I have found the following simple procedure to be best:

a. Fill a small bowl with cold or lukewarm water. Add 1-2 drops of clear dishwashing liquid (NOT DISHWASHER) such as Dawn, Palmolive, or even the generic brand if it is clear. After adding the 1-2 drops, stir the water slightly. It shouldn't be bubbly. If your water is hard, add a couple tablespoons of white vinegar.

b. Moisten a soft brush, like a old soft toothbrush, or a baby brush, then shake it out and even dry it a little so it is damp only, because you don't want the jewelry to get wet. Brush the jewelry gently, concentrating on the nooks and crannies where dust accumulates. Be careful of old finishes and plating. When you are through, buff dry. There is no need to rinse, of course. You can use a wooden or plastic toothpick with Kleenex or a Q-tip to poke & wipe hard-to-get into areas. Don't force anything into open areas; some jewelry is delicate and it's very easy to bend a prong or part of a fitting, even with a Q-tip.

c. Of course, if your jewelry has all unfoiled rhinestones, like this one, you can clean it as above, or immerse in lukewarm water with a spoon of white vinegar and a drop of liquid dish detergent (not dishwasher detergent) and use the toothbrush procedure.

8. Enjoy your sparkling clean, shining jewels!


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