CARING FOR COSTUME JEWELRY
By all means wear your costume jewelry, this is one of the chief pleasure of owning it, but do keep in mind that pieces may be fragile and need careful handling. Always apply hair spray, soap, cream, or perfume before you put on jewelry, as cosmetics can damage plated surfaces, faux pearls, jet and beads. Before wearing, check that chain links, settings, and clasps are secure, these can weaken over time. Never immerse costume jewelry in water, as this can dissolve adhesive, tarnish metal, discolor paste, and shrink or rot string on beaded necklaces, bracelets and barrettes, etc. To clean paste stones spray a cotton bud with a small amount of window cleaning liquid, squeeze the bud to remove the excess then gently buff only the surface of each stone. Make sure that the cleaner does not seep into any settings. Pat dry with a cotton cloth. To revitalize tired-looking metal settings, use a jeweler's cloth, available from specialist dealers and some hardware or department stores. Avoid polishing creams or dips, and try not to over-polish as patina is desirable on all but the shiniest rhodium finishes, and these rarely tarnish anyway. Store each piece individually in its own box or cloth pochette if possible, but if not, wrap it in acid-free paper, which is available from many antique dealers.
REPAIR COSTUME JEWELRY
The biggest problem with stone-set jewelry is the inevitable loss of paste stones. Proper storage and common sense will minimize the risk, but some paste loss is inevitable. It is perfectly possible and legitimate to replace your own pastes, and many collectors on eBay sell a supply of both old and new stones for this purpose. Some gem and lapidary wholesalers, as well as art, craft, and hobby stores, stock pastes, marcasites, and faux pearls. To replace lost stones it is best to use clear-drying jeweler's cement, which can be bought through dealers or craft and hobby shops, but if none is available any of the super-strong adhesives that bond glass to metal will work. To replace stones, apply a tiny dewdrop of your chosen adhesive on to the end of a safety pin and dab this into the cup-like setting, taking care not to fill it to the edge or the adhesive will spill over. If you see that you have applied too much, a twisted corner of tissue can be used as a wick to absorb excess. A clean cotton cloth should also be kept standing by for major spills. Never let excess adhesive dry on a stone or setting, as it will be difficult to remove later. Next, pick up your stone, either with your fingers or with tweezers, and push it gently into the setting, then let dry for at least two hours. With prongset pieces, the prongs have to be carefully opened with a pair of slim-nosed jeweler's pliers prior to paste replacement, and re-closed after the adhesive has dried