Rhinestone jewelry is costume jewelry made from a base metal alloy or brass. Originally, rhinestones were crystal rocks from Europe's Rhine River. Then in 1775, Georg Friedrich Strass discovered that glass coated with metal powder could achieve a similar effect as diamonds glittering in the sun. Rhinestones sparkle like diamonds but are far less expensive. Sometimes you can find rhinestone jewelry at thrift stores, but more often than not they require repair and cleaning to look new. Rhinestone jewelry is usually delicate and can break with pressure. Fixing a piece takes a gentle hand, but it is possible.
Things You'll Need
- Thin pointed knife
- Cotton swab
- Nail polish remover
- Long pointed tweezers
- Jeweler's glue
- Prong lifter
- Soft cloth or makeup brush
- Window cleaner or rubbing alcohol
- Sunshine cloth
Replace a broken rhinestone or clean out the cup holding it by removing the rhinestone first. Proceed to the Step 3 if your rhinestone is held in with prongs. If your stone is glued in place, place the tip of a thin pointed blade under the rhinestone. This should dislodge the stone from a glued setting. If the glue is still holding the stone in strongly, wipe with a cotton swab soaked in nail polish remover. If you still can't remove the stone, soak the entire piece in nail polish remover for 30 minutes. This should loosen the glue so the stone comes out easily. If this method has not worked, you will have to break the stone and replace it.
Clear out the old glue. Fill the cup with jeweler‘s glue. Using a pair of long pointed tweezers, place the old stone or a new one in the cup. Wipe off any exposed glue with a cotton swab soaked in alcohol. Leave the piece to dry for at least an hour. Proceed to Step 5.
Straighten out the prongs holding the rhinestone in place. Be gentle or the prongs could break. If you are planning on reusing the stone, be careful not to scratch it. A prong lifter tool will help with this process.
Clean out the cavity before you replace the stone or put in a new one. Check to make sure your new stone is set evenly in the cup. Push the prongs gently back in place with any flat tool such as a knife or pliers, adjusting the stone if necessary. Finish by pressing the prongs firmly against the rhinestone. The stone should not move.
Moisten a soft cloth or a clean makeup brush with window cleaner or rubbing alcohol. As you clean the jewelry, blot the excess moisture away with a soft clean cloth. Be aware that your cloth may catch on any prongs and pull them away from the stones if you rub too hard. Place the cleaned jewelry upside-down in the open air to finish drying. Store the piece in a jewelry box or pouch away from other jewelry pieces. This will help protect the stones from being scratched. If your jewelry has a broken clasp, proceed to the next step.
Repair the broken clasp by opening the jump ring or other attachment. Remove the broken clasp and find a replacement clasp. Try to choose one that is made from the same metal of the same color as the rest of your piece. Close the jump ring, ensuring the two ends meet tightly together but do not overlap. If your piece is tarnished, proceed to the next step.
Use a Sunshine cloth to clean and polish your rhinestone jewelry. This has a cleaning agent already in the cloth and is non-abrasive. It will help your tarnished pieces look new again.
Tips & Warnings
- To reset stones without tweezers, you can use a piece of tape and attach it to the top side of the stone. Carefully lower the rhinestone in place then remove the tape.
- If replacing the stone with another, it must be the same size in order to fit in the cup. The color should also look the same as the others in the setting.
- To remove all the glue from the cavity, use polish remover with acetone.
- Do not use nail polish remover if the jewelry is hand-painted, as you will remove the finish.
- Do not store rhinestone jewelry in plastic bags. The plastic will cause your rhinestones to tarnish.
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