5 Tips for Vintage Jewelry
6/3/2014
Learn how to handle Grandmother's necklace, Great-great-grandma's antique engagement ring, Great-grandpa's pocket watch and other vintage jewelry passed down in your family — as well as old jewelry you don't want.
You own a beautiful heirloom, a precious piece of your family’s history, but what should you do with it? Learn how to handle Grandmother’s necklace, Great-great-grandma’s antique engagement ring, Great-granddad’s pocket watch, and other vintage jewelry handed down through your family—as well as old jewelry you no longer want to keep.
 
Some of the greatest treasures passed down through the generations are pieces of vintage family jewelry. Be it the antique engagement ring with which Grandpa proposed to Grandma before marching off to war, or the necklace Great-grandmother cherished since she was a little girl, the history captured within these accessories imbues them with immense sentimental value.

How will you make proper use of these meaningful mementos? After all, such beauty deserves a better fate than gathering dust or, worse yet, hiding in a cedar box on your credenza because you are too nervous to take it out. On the other hand, what will you do with those pieces you no longer want or can’t keep? Storing all 100 pairs of Momma’s earrings could transform you from preserver to pack rat.


These five tips will equip you to get the most from your antique family jewelry, including the pieces you are ready to release to the sands of time.

1. Preserve the provenance of each piece.

Photograph the item and make record of who owned it. If you aren’t sure, do some online research on the style of the piece by exploring vintage jewelry websites or consult such books as C. Jeanenne Bell’s How to Be a Jewelry Detective. By making such documentation, the family history associated with the item will be permanently saved in physical form, even if some accident should befall the piece or if you decide to let it go someday. For thoughts on storage methods, check out this article.

2. Have the jewelry appraised.

It doesn’t take a master jeweler or gemstone specialist to know that a $2,000 diamond vintage engagement ring deserves a wholly different level of treatment than a $20 piece of costume jewelry. Getting an expert evaluation of the monetary value of an item gives you the information you need to decide whether a piece belongs on prominent display in a sealed glass case or if it belongs in a shoebox in your attic. (No certification on the gems? No problem. Check this website for help.) Depending on the appraisal, you may decide that an item merits extra insurance coverage to guard against theft or loss.

3. Clean and store with proper care.

The first step is to invest in a quality jewelry box with multiple compartments and a secure lid. For more long-term storage, consider archival compartment boxes, cushioning the piece in acid-free tissue. It’s a good move to clean the jewelry before storage, but using the wrong cleaning agent or an abrasive cloth can cause permanent damage. Consult a professional jeweler for advice specific to your piece so that you can keep it in optimal condition.

4. Wear your heirloom.

Where is the fun in preserving an elegant piece of family jewelry if it never gets to see the light of day? Take it on parade from time to time by using it the way it is meant to be used—wearing it. Just make sure that your expensive or sentimental heirloom jewelry is handled with the utmost care. Don’t wear delicate rings, brooches, bracelets and other adornments in an active setting where pieces may fall off. Similarly, keep your precious items out of the way of rigorous tasks that could easily damage them, such as washing dishes.

5. Revamp or resell unwanted vintage jewelry.

Does Grandma’s taste in bracelets differ from yours? Does Mother’s ring not fit you? Have the precious gems reset into a new necklace or piece of jewelry that brings the past and present together. But what about the diamond brooch that belonged to Dad’s ex? Sell it to a firm like WP Diamonds and fund your next family reunion, create a heritage album of family history to share with your relatives, or put the money toward a new piece of jewelry to hand down through the ages to your own posterity.
 
Source: WP Diamonds