Tesora Bella means Beautiful Treasures In Italian
The first step in dealing with an antique anything is to use caution. If this is a priceless piece by all means take it to a professional for cleaning and for restoration if there are any loose stones. If the piece needs minor touch-ups it should be easy enough to clean using items around the house.
In general it is best to avoid frequently cleaning bracelets with liquids (even soap and water) since it can damage the jewelry. If the piece has not been worn for more than six months it is good to gently clean it to avoid deeper tarnishing, especially sterling silver bracelets. Whatever you do, never use bleach on jewelry. This harsh chemical can actually turn metals like silver darker instead of creating a desired shine.
By the way, did you know that sterling silver is an alloy? It is the copper in sterling silver that tarnishes quickly through oxidation. Pure silver does not tarnish at all, but is too soft to use for jewelry.
Start with simply taking a soft dry cloth and gently wiping the bracelet. If debris is trapped in the detail a soft bristled toothbrush will usually loosen and remove this dirt. If loose stones are noticed at any point STOP cleaning and take the piece to a professional for repair.
If the simple wiping and dry toothbrushing don't clean the piece to your satisfaction, try a damp cloth (not a soaking wet cloth, but a damp cloth). Be sure to test the damp cloth on one small area first before wetting the entire bracelet. Any time water is used on jewelry it is important to first check for foil-backed stones.
Foil-backed stones should NOT be immersed in water. Doing so will eventually remove the foil backing from the stone thus deteriorating the piece of jewelry rather than enhancing it. When using a damp cloth the water can get trapped behind the setting causing the same issues as immersing the stone.
If these simple cleaning methods are not quite enough, a soap, water, and ammonia bath is possible with most pieces. Remember that this should not be done often.
Here are some tips for a successful cleaning:
1. Check the piece for loose stones first. Use your finger or a toothpick to see if the stones wiggle at all in their settings. If there is any doubt consider taking the piece to a professional.
2. Check each stone backing for foil. If the piece is really old some of the foil backings may have come off with age, so be sure to check each stone. See warnings above.
3. If stones are secure and no foil backs are present then the next step is a test cleaning of a small area. Create a solution of ½ cup warm water, 2-3 drops of dish soap, and couple of drops of ammonia.
4. Take the smallest end of the bracelet and immerse for a few minutes in the cleaning solution.
5. Remove the bracelet from the solution and use a soft (clean) toothbrush to remove any debris. Be careful during this process to keep the wet away from the rest of the bracelet. Gently rinse the test spot under warm running water.
6. Dry the test spot with the soft towel and inspect your work. Check the stone that was cleaned to be sure it is still secure. When cleaning remember to use caution, and after testing one spot, continue only if you are happy with the results. If everything looks okay immerse the whole bracelet or clean small sections at a time.
7. The soft toothbrush will usually be enough for most detail work, but special brushes, pipe cleaners, and tooth picks are also handy when used with caution.
Tesora Bella means Beautiful Treasures In Italian™