How to clean all types of earrings
Cleaning earrings both piercing & non-pierced types.
Cleaning earrings are important, not only for "used" earrings, newly brought, of both types but on the ones that you have been using for many years and you currently own.
Our methods of cleaning means that pre-owned earrings will be cleaned several times before being catalogued for photographing and ready for sale.
- The very first thing we do is remove any old pads or pillows from clip-on earrings and the backs from pierced earrings. Then we throw the old ones away. The only time we re-use backs/clutches is if they are of gold/silver/antique or are in a metal/style that is difficult to find a replacement. Once the earrings are cleaned we replace the backs with new ones to match the metal and earring design. Or replace the cleaned original backs (soak in antiseptic solution and use an ultrasonic jewellery machine)
- We sell on Cool Vintage & Beyond replacement backs/pillows and pads in all our unique earring collections.
- First, identify what the earrings are made of before attempting to clean. This may mean using a jewellers' lens/loop and we also use a magnified craft mirror when cleaning them.
- Using a strong antiseptic-disinfectant solution in water to clean the reverse of the earrings. Mix 1/4 part antiseptic such as Detol with 3/4 parts water. Then using a cloth or soft brush get into all the crevices of the metal finding on the back. If possible and if the material of the earring allows - we soak them in the solution for a short while.
- After cleaning with the disinfectant solution, use one of the antibacterial wipes that are now widely available. Clean again the backs and fronts (if the material allow). If you have greening or the creases are not clean - we use a toothpick and wrap the end around the wipes to get into the corners. It helps to use a magnifying glass to do this. Dry afterwards with kitchen towel thoroughly. Stubborn bits may need to be rubbed with a cotton bud soaked in the antiseptic solution.
- Then each individual pair are cleaned again according to the material it is made of. E.G Plastic fronts, diamante, rhinestone, etc.
- Note - For hygiene purposes sometimes it is possible to remove the old hook findings or posts on earrings (for pierced ears only). It may de-value something that is antique/vintage, but they then can be worn again. As this is a personal choice we may leave this method to the new owner. Though some we change automatically and this can be seen clearly in the description.
Earrings are cleaned again using the methods below:
All metal earrings that are riveted together (not glued) are cleaned in our ultrasonic jewellery cleaner. Once dry - we will clean them using a brought specific cloth or polish according to material I.E silver/gold or base metal using the cloth specific for that type. Then buff to shine.
Greening to metal - the green colour can sometimes be seen on a piece of jewellery. This means that the metal has some deterioration. To remove use a vinegar solution and wash off afterwards and dry well (you may have to do this more than once). This has just removed the green colour - but it does still mean that the metal has deteriorated and will be in a state that it can break more easily. One permanent solution is to replace all metal parts - but we will leave that up to the new owner.
Rhinestones of glass
But occasionally it is possible to restore the pieces by removing the rhinestones/diamante, cleaning and replacing them with new ones. This is something that is an art - finding the right size, shape, colour and era of the rhinestones to start can be difficult for some pieces. It may reduce the value of the piece overall - but if it is to make an unwearable piece wearable then well worth doing. It's not impossible but difficult (as is replacing a single stone that matches). So we leave this up to the new owner.
Clean plastic beads and earrings made of any type of plastic. Use a soap solution and the cotton bud method. We usually clean all over and then dry the earring. However with celluloid pieces (they can be damaged with using water) we clean with a barely damp bud and dry straight away. Celluloid should also be stored not in a sealed plastic bag, but with airflow allowed.
With some plastics, we apply a tiny amount of petroleum jelly to the final buff to give shine. Minor scratches can be rubbed with abrasive toothpaste, rinse the paste of carefully and then buffed to shine.