How to Care for Antique Jewelry

How to Care for your Antique Jewelry and Antiquities

Your expectations

You have now purchased your ancient antique jewellery. Although normally you would expect a purchase to be in perfect condition this does not happen with antiquities or antiques. Repairs and alterations are commonplace and add to the piece's uniqueness. Jewellery is a personal, and often expensive adornment that is handled, worn, perhaps damaged, repaired and passed down from generation to generation. In antiquity styles and fashions change. Jewellery and gems are taken apart, reset, worn, and modified depending on the needs of the times and the owner. Remember, good repairs are evidence that the piece is of some age, authentic and of value enough to someone to warrant repairing. Be suspect of a perfect piece of jewellery – reproductions are prevalent with some types of jewellery. Evidence of surface scratches and patina are more often to be desired.
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Small dents on the reverse, surface scratches, stone replacements or an earlier quality repair can become as much a part of the jewellery's history as its former owners. Those imperfections are the tapestry of the piece's history, much as the losses and mistakes of our own lives become intrinsically part of our makeup. Much of the beauty of antique jewellery is its patina and mellowing that only age can do.

All of our rings are attributed as best as possible and come with a Certificate of Authenticity. All are wearable. Remember though, they are 1500-2000 years old. Bronze can become somewhat brittle with this much age. Treat your ring gently and it will last for another 2000 years. Don't wear it every day. Sweat and body oils can penetrate the bronze and cause damage. Leave it at home occasionally to let it dry out and breathe.

As you wear your ring think about the person who created it 60 generations ago.

  • What was he like?
  • Who did he make it for?
  • Was the original owner a merchant, a farmer, a soldier in the legions of the empire?
  • What meaning did the symbols or pattern carved into the ring have for him?
  • How did it become lost for centuries?
  • Think about its journey from the finger of a Roman subject to the finger of your hand. It is a bridge from the present back to the ancient past.

So How to Care for Antique Jewelry

Keep bronze pieces as clean as possible. Accumulations of dust and dirt can eat into the metal surface. Dust regularly using a soft cloth. Do not rub too vigorously, especially on any protruding parts. If a bronze piece has been neglected for a long time and is covered with grime, thoroughly clean it with a soft brush. Remove all dust from crevices and notches and then lightly rub the entire surface with a soft flannel cloth. For a more thorough cleaning, carefully wash with a solution of 1 tablespoon of salt and 3 1/2 quarts of water. Rinse well. Polish with copper polish followed by glass wax. If you want a high polish, dip a cloth into liquid wax and apply to the piece. When dry, buff lightly to a high gloss. This wax treatment also may be given to bronze pieces that are kept outdoors. Weathered bronze usually darkens; however, this is natural and does not harm the piece.

Bronze disease

is one of the most serious hazards of bronze. This disease, caused when chlorides and oxygen combine in a damp environment, also attacks brass and pewter. The disease takes the form of a sudden outbreak of small patches of corrosion and is distinguished by rough, light green spots. "Bronze disease" usually can be stopped by washing the piece in repeated changes of boiling hot, distilled water. You may have to soak the object for a week or more in distilled water. If this treatment does not work, consult a museum expert about using a strong solution of sodium sesquicarbonate or have your piece treated by a professional.
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