Rhinestone jewelry is made by gluing the rock crystal to foil which in turn is placed in a setting. The metal part of rhinestone jewelry is non-precious, made from either gold or silver colored base metals.
Hallmarking Rhinestone Jewelry
Vintage rhinestone jewelry ranges from $50 to over $1,000 depending on its quality, age and whether it has a hallmark. Hallmarks are unique symbols placed on a bracelet/necklace clasp or tag or inside a ring identifying the jewelry maker, date the jewelry was made and other related information. Having a hallmark doesn’t guarantee the jewelry is authentic nor does not having a hallmark mean it’s a fake. Hallmarks can be copied. Additionally, the jewelry designer may have forgotten to affix a hallmark it or may have made pieces they didn’t see the need to mark.
Caring for Rhinestone Jewelry
Over the years, rhinestone jewelry made with clear rock crystal may start to yellow. This is caused by the deterioration of the glue holding the rhinestone to the foil. As the cause of the yellow cast is underneath the rhinestone, it is impossible to remove by surface cleaning the jewelry. The only alternative is to have a jeweler replace the rhinestone – a simple process.
Jewelry cleaning camps are divided on how to best clean rhinestone jewelry or any costume jewelry for that matter with foil backings. Some say it’s okay to use soap and water brushing off the surface dirt with a toothbrush and rinsing the jewelry under running water.
Others say getting the foil wet causes it to turn black, ruining the appearance of white and light colored rhinestones. An alternate method to the above is to dunk a toothbrush into soapy water, shake until the brush is barely wet and carefully clean the rhinestones, taking care to keep any moisture from getting into the setting.