Given the tremendous amount of time, money and effort needed to accumulate collectibles, the last thing any self-respecting collector wants is devaluation brought about by damage as well as wear and tear. But even valuables stowed away in storage are not immune from deterioration. Thankfully, you can greatly slow down this process, as long as you’re willing to put some work into it. Here are expert tips on how to care for your collectibles and maximize their lifespan and value.
Sterling silver – This is a mixture made of 92.5% silver and 7.5% other metals. Given enough time, any piece of jewelry made of sterling silver will deteriorate due to oxidation, leading to discoloration and tarnishing. Contact with sweat, cosmetics, perfume, etc. plays a role in the chemical processes that cause the other metals mixed with the silver to oxidize with the surrounding air, speeding up its deterioration.
Use only a silver polishing cloth when cleaning silver jewelry, to avoid contact with dyes and other chemicals that may cause damage to your jewelry.
Use a tarnish-proof cloth when storing silver jewelry. Ideally, they should be wrapped in a tarnish-proof cloth first before being placed in a box lined with the same material.
Gold – This type of metal is relatively soft and malleable compared to others and are vulnerable to scratching especially when stored together with hard gemstones such as diamond. To prevent this, consider using soft cloth bags to store gold jewelry or storing them solo in their original boxes.
Consider having them cleaned at a reputable jeweler to minimize the risk of scratching. You can use a clean, soft microfiber cloth for occasional buffing, but remember to avoid excessive pressure.
Diamonds – As earlier mentioned, diamonds are the hardest substance on the planet. You won’t have to worry too much about damage to your diamonds (although they are not impervious) but remember that diamonds can scratch and damage gold, silver, and platinum, so keep diamonds stored separately from other jewelry pieces that use malleable metals.
To clean diamonds, soak them in warm water with a few drops of dishwashing liquid before gently brushing them with a soft-bristled toothbrush. This toothbrush should be used only for cleaning your diamond jewelry, and for no other purpose. Rinse them in clean water before wrapping in paper towels to dry.
Pearls – Keep in mind that pearls are a product of a biological process. As such, they are much more vulnerable to damage compared to metals and hard minerals. Do not keep pearls with other jewelry that may scratch them, and always wrap them in soft cloth prior when storing them.
Always put on cosmetics prior to wearing pearl jewelry. Propellants and other chemicals mixed with certain types of perfume and cosmetics may corrode and damage the pearl’s nacre.
Remember that pearls need moisture and may eventually crack in the absence of it. Wear them every so often. However, do not take this as a blanket license to submerge them in water as chlorine will bleach the pearl’s surface, eventually causing it to lose its luster, or even crack.
Paper Collectibles And Photographs
Paper collectibles and photographs are especially vulnerable to damage caused by acid formation on their surface. Whether you collect comic books, vintage baseball cards, or Magic the Gathering™ cards, there’s no escaping the fact that they will deteriorate eventually. However, taking the right steps can help drastically slow down the rate at which they do.
Moisture from fingerprints and oils secreted by your skin promotes acid hydrolysis, a process that breaks down cellulose chains that form paper. Not only can that, but fingerprints on rare cards massively reduce their potential resale value. Be sure that your hands are clean when handling cards and photographs and use nitrile or microfiber gloves whenever possible.
Store paper collectibles and photographs in a cool, dry place free of dust and dirt. Avoid often-neglected spaces such as attics and basements, as these are prone to condensation and even leaky piping that could damage your collectibles.
Use acid-free and lignin-free albums to store paper collectibles. These albums, in turn, should be stored in acid-free storage boxes. Look for “archival quality” boxes when shopping for storage for best results.
For books and comic books that have begun to deteriorate due to acid hydrolysis (recognizable by their faint vinegar-like smell), consider using a deacidification spray. Deacidification sprays work by neutralizing the acids responsible for acid hydrolysis with an alkaline coating.
Clothing and decorative items made of cloth are vulnerable to heat, humidity, air pollution, and even insects. Keeping textiles clean and protected is key to stave off decay and deterioration in order to maintain as much of their original appearance as possible.
As is the case with paper, textile collectibles should be kept in a cool, dry place away from sunlight and water condensation. Yes, that rules out the basement.
Whenever possible, have textile collectibles washed professionally. If the original manufacturer still exists, check with them for proper care instructions, including whether the product can be dry-cleaned. Avoid ironing textile collectibles as this dries out any dyes or coloring agents used in the fabric, eventually leading to washed-out colors. Also remember to avoid wrapping textiles in paper when storing them, as most types of paper are highly acidic due to acid hydrolysis. Use a clean cotton sheet instead.
Rugs and carpets are typically vulnerable to insect infestations. Check them at least once a month for insects, and remember vacuum the rug/carpet and its immediate surroundings regularly.
As a collector, the task of conservation indeed falls on your shoulders. While you might not have the same resources as a museum, there are still steps you can take to prevent your collectibles from deteriorating.
If you are looking for a reputable company that accepts loans and buys antiques and collectibles, turn to Biltmore Loan. We accept walk-ins – just bring your items and get a free, professional market appraisal. Contact us at (180) 991-5626 for Scottsdale or (480) 705-5626 for Chandler clients. You may also fill out our online form for more information.