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Topics: Cleaning, Rhinestones

Q.
I have a lot of my Mother's costume jewelry that she bought in the 1960's. Some was made in Western Germany, some was made in Austria and a couple pairs of earrings made in Japan. Her house was damp. The ones made in W.Germany are very green. I guess like a mold or something. The rhinestones are foil backed. How do I get the green stuff off?
- Lorraine
A.
The safest way to clean your foil-backed rhinestone jewelry is a dry cleaning method. Using liquid cleaners can cause the reflective foil back to separate and/or deteriorate, ruining the rhinestone. Use a soft bristled brush to gently clean the soiled surface areas. Jewel Brite™ cleaner comes with a soft brush which can be used to clean the surface, but do not soak the rhinestones in the fluid.

If this method doesn't work, you can proceed with caution, testing on an area that is not visible, and lightly spray the surface with a solution of 1/2 water, 1/2 jewelry cleaner. Wipe the piece dry using a soft cloth. Avoid jewelry cleaning and polishing cloths that are impregnated with cleansing agents and abrasives that can be harmful to plated metals, base metals and rhinestones.

To ensure the piece is completely dry for storing, let it air dry overnight or dry using a hair dryer on a cool setting. To reduce the need for future cleaning, store clean, dry jewelry in an airtight container. With metal beads and components, anti-tarnish top zip bags work well, or you can add an anti-tarnish paper strip to an untreated top zip bag.

- Michelle Wood, Jewelry-Making Expert

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