According to DeLizza, using
mild soap and clear water is the only way to thoroughly clean a piece of
rhinestone jewelry. In fact, he
says, “That’s what I’ve always told people, if you want to get jewelry
really clean.” And if you scoured
the summer 2003 issue of the VFCJ newsletter featuring Juliana jewelry like most
of us, you know he has been a respected name in the jewelry business for a very
DeLizza maintains that
plating residue left in the stone cups is actually the culprit that eats away at
the foil causing damage over time. Because,
ironically, the plating solution wasn’t adequately rinsed away with water
years ago when the piece was made.
Think about the times
you’ve found a dry blackish iridescent residue in a stone cup when replacing a
dead stone and DeLizza’s words suddenly begin to ring true.
He also noted that Austrian rhinestones have high quality foil that is
fairly difficult to damage. If
you’ve ever tried to remove the foil from a stone by scratching at it, you
very likely understand what he means about that, too.
But there are stones that originated in other parts of the world that are
a little more feeble in the foil department.
What about those?
DeFruiscio concurs that some
stones can be more susceptible to foil damage than others, especially those
manufactured in Czechoslovakia. But
even when those more sensitive stones embellish a piece, he feels that we do far
more damage to our jewelry by avoiding the removal of sweat, body oils, perfumes
and other beauty products than rinsing them in water would incur.
“Naturally, highly abrasive
cleaners are not good for the foil on stones.
But I think if you clean your jewelry with a mild detergent based
cleaner, rinse with clean water, and dry it well, the foil on stones should be
okay,” DeFruiscio said.
So there you have it.
You can immediately begin rinsing your jewelry in water with no worries.
Or can you?
Rosalie Sayyah, better known
as Rhinestone Rosie, who regularly appears on Antiques Roadshow as a jewelry
expert, isn’t so sure. She notes,
“I have seen its effect with my own eyes.
Stones have turned black upon immersing them in liquid.”
She goes on to say, however, if the foil is undamaged and initially
intact (and you can tell if it is upon close examination), submersion in liquid
won’t harm stones.
Nevertheless, even though she
does immerse pieces from her personal collection in water on a regular basis
without worry, Sayyah doesn’t encourage others to use liquids when cleaning
their jewelry. Instead, she usually
tells curious friends and customers to use a soft, dry toothbrush and perhaps a
sprit of Windex to clean their precious pretties.
She also suggests drying a freshly cleaned piece upside down on absorbent
cloth or using a hair dryer on low heat to eliminate all moisture, just to be
So where does that leave us? Simply knowing water isn’t likely the offender when it comes to the damaged prong-set stones we run across should alleviate some of the paranoia related to this subject. And, this knowledge also allows us to make a more informed, logical decisions about how to best clean our beloved jewelry, and the risks we’re willing to take when doing so.
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