There is great debate and discussion regarding the proper care of rhinestone and costume jewelry. However, experience has demonstrated that the most damaging elements to costume jewelry and rhinestone pieces in particular are moisture, food, or hairspray.
Rhinestone jewelry should never be immersed in water or cleaning fluids. The moisture gets trapped behind the stone and gradually degrades the foil, causing the stone to “turn” or discolor. The foil backing is what gives the stones their brilliance. Replacing stones can often be difficult if an exact match isn’t available.
In order to properly clean your jewelry there are some necessary tools one needs to have handy:
3. Baby toothbrush
4. Soft cloth (i.e. old tee-shirt)
5. Drying towel
7. Jewelers loop
8. Alcohol or soap solution of 5mls to 240mls.
With the loop carefully examine the piece prior to cleaning. Take note of any loose stones or prongs and fasten them securely before commencing. With the piece upside-down (stones facing down) gently begin the cleaning process with a Q-tip or toothbrush dipped sparingly into either solution. Do not over saturate either implement. As you begin to clean the piece, any loose debris can be gently dabbed away with another cleaning cloth or another Q-tip. Blot dry and place on drying towel upside-down to allow to thoroughly dry.
Note it may take several times of repeating this method to fully remove all of the dirt. Alcohol will dry faster, but will not cut the debris to the same degree as the soap solution. I prefer to initially to use the alcohol method and finish with one round of soap-solution.
Some collectors will also gently use a blow-dryer on the cool setting to remove any residual moisture.
Article re posted from The Jewelry Stylist. Sellers of fine vintage costume jewelry. From signed pieces to unsigned beauties they provide a wonderful resource of vintage jewels for the collector, covering 110 years of fashion adornment.