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How to Clean Vintage Rhinestone Jewelry

Vintage jewelry has never been hotter. Some of the most beautiful vintage pieces available are done in rhinestones and some of them were made by well-respected designers. That makes them a valuable collector's item. Whether you purchase rhinestone jewelry for an investment or because of its vintage elegance, you will want to take good care of it. Follow the steps below to clean and maintain your rhinestone jewelry investments.

Things You'll Need:

  • Boxes
  • Soft Cloth
  • Soft Brush
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Paper Towels
  • Jewelry Pouches
  • Rhinestone Jewelry
  • Soft Polishing Cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Jewelry Cleaner (Approved For Rhinestones)
  • Cotton Swab

Do some research to determine the quality of the rhinestone piece. It will help to know as much as you can about the type of base metal used; how the rhinestones were set into the metal (such as prong set or casted); and the type of rhinestone used(glass or crystal). All of this will have some impact on your choices for cleaning.

Spray compressed air into the jewelry piece to hopefully remove some of dirt set in between the rhinestones and the metal.

Use a soft jewelry polishing cloth to remove simple surface dirt or material like skin products, perfumes, or cleansers off of the rhinestones.

With a cotton swab that has been dipped lightly into a glass cleaner, gently rub the surface of the rhinestones to remove any dirt that would not come off with a polishing cloth. Rinse with water and dry thorougly.

With a cotton swab, lightly apply a bit of alcohol to the rhinestone. Try to avoid soaking any type of liquid into the metal as it could change its color, dissolve its protective overcoating, or otherwise damage it. Then rub it clean with a very soft cloth like that of a cotton T-shirt. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.

To remove dirt from both the rhinestone and the metal, use a very mild jewelry cleaning product that is approved for rhinestone jewelry; rubbing the cleaner gently into the metal with a very soft brush. But make certain that the brush is blotted semi-dry before applying in order to avoid putting too much product onto the jewelry piece. Then rinse and thoroughly dry.

Protect rhinestones in between wearings by wrapping them in paper towels or soft cloths and putting them into individual boxes or jewelry pouches.

Store rhinestones in a dry, cool, dust free environment when it is not being used.


Casted rhinestones generally denote a cheaper quality pieces. Prong set rhinestones can fall apart easily if the base metal used is too soft and pliable. Check the rhinestone settings carefully for anything loose that might fall out during the cleaning process.


  • Avoid any type of solvent material that might take the foil backing off of the rhinestones since that is where the stones get their sparkle. Never immerse rhinestones into any kind of liquid. Excess moisture may darken or ruin the rhinestone's foil backing. Avoid using hot liquid of any kind on your rhinestones as it could loosen the stones from the setting or, worse yet, make them fall out altogether.
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