Good afternoon lovelies!
As you are know, I collect and wear vintage jewellery of all decades and varieties. Recently a reader referred to me as the ‘Queen of Vintage Jewellery,’ which was very sweet! When I started this blog, I purposely created the ‘A Lesson in’ series to help you learn more about particular jewellery genres and materials. I think it’s great that posts like ‘A Lesson in Mustard Seed‘ and ‘Oh, for the Love of…Jelly Bellies‘ inspired some of you to go and purchase those items for your collection. I like spreading the love!
One thing that’s very important, but often overlooked, is the care and storage of vintage jewellery. Vintage jewellery is often quite fragile, so we want to take very good care of it. I myself have been lax on organizing my collection until just recently. I wanted to share with you my progress and also some handy tips for care and storage.
Since I began organizing my collection, I realize that I have thousands of items. Certainly a lot more than I estimated and certainly a lot to store properly! It’s amazing how much jewellery one can neatly shove in a box and not even realize how much is in there!
How to Organize Vintage Jewellery
My jewellery was spread out and stored in several different jewellery boxes and cases. I could never find what I wanted and was getting very tired of digging through boxes to find particular items. I decided the best way to organize my jewellery was to buy a hardware organizer. You know the kind – the type that you find in a garage where nuts and bolts are kept.
1. Buy hardware organizer:
I purchased mine at Wal-mart, but you can find them at any department or hardware store. They range in cost from $20 to $50 depending on the size, number of drawers and casing. What I like best about using a hardware organizer is that you get a several drawers to store your items in.
2. Buy some felt:
I also bought some felt, which I cut to size to line each drawer. Why did I do that you ask? Because you DO NOT want your vintage jewellery to touch plastic. Felt is very inexpensive and you can purchase it at department stores or dollar stores. Mine cost $2 for about 6 sheets.
3. Place felt liners in each drawer
4. Start carefully placing your items in your organizer. How you organize them is up to you. Mine is currently organized by jewellery type or theme. I have a few drawers for jelly belly pins and a few for Scotty dog jewellery – you get the idea!
Did I get all of my jewellery into one organizer? No, I still have a long way to go! I think I’ll probably need about four more of these containers to get everything organized properly, excluding necklaces. Some of the boxes yet to empty, below. This excludes the jewellery in my boudoir!
Quick Storage Tips for Vintage Costume Jewellery
(I say ‘costume jewellery’ in particular because care of precious or semi-precious jewellery is a whole other ball game!)
- DO NOT let your jewellery be exposed to dust, water (unless testing for Bakelite), heat, moisture or direct sunlight. If you need to clean something, read further for care instructions.
- DO NOT spray anything near your rhinestone jewellery; no perfumes, hairsprays, etc.
- DO NOT store your jewellery in zip lock bags. This is a big NO-NO, even though some people recommend it. Yes, it makes everything neatly organized BUT moisture can easily be trapped inside which will damage your jewellery. Your pieces need to be able to breathe!
- Store your most precious items in soft lined pouches/baggies, those made particularly for jewellery.
- Store pieces individually. Meaning, DO NOT store your pieces on top of each other. Ideally, each piece should be laid out so that it doesn’t touch another piece. I haven’t achieved that yet and I’m uncertain if I ever will. That would mean A LOT of organizers and thus A LOT of money. I had to have items touching one another, however, I’m very, very careful at handling my pieces.
- Celluloid should be stored in a dry place, which is best for all jewellery anyhow. If you have a crumbling piece of Celluloid, DO NOT place it anywhere near another piece of Celluloid as the disintegration will spread and ‘infect’ your other pieces.
- Think of new and inventive ways to store your jewellery. I have a lot of Bakelite bangles, so I came up with the idea of storing mine on a paper towel holder! Since Bakelite is very hard and will not chip or break unless you drop it, it’s safe to store in this manner.
Cleaning Vintage Costume Jewellery
You have to be very careful when you clean vintage jewellery as it’s very fragile and easy to injure. No matter what you think, NEVER immerse your jewellery in water (unless Bakelite testing). I never clean my vintage jewellery save for occasionally polishing silver. However, if you need to clean something follow the below tips.
- If you need to clean an item, be sure you know what the material is so you can select the best cleaner/polisher. DO NOT use a cleaner that contains alcohol or ammonia.
- For rhinestone jewellery, the best option is to put a tiny amount of Windex on a Q-tip to lightly clean the rhinestones. DO NOT spray the cleaner directly on the item. Never use silver polish or soap to clean rhinestones. I’ve heard that using baby wipes to clean rhinestone jewellery works well, but I’ve never tried it. Let me know if you have!
- You can use a polishing cloth, just make sure it’s appropriate for the item you’re cleaning.
- ALWAYS dry your items throughly after cleaning and before storage.
If you have any storage or cleaning tips to share, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you!