shape
carat
color
clarity

180 yo Mourning Brooch - HELP - should I clean it?

SapphireBomb

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Dec 15, 2021
Messages
118
On this very sad day, it seems fitting that my very first mourning brooch arrived in the mail.
I have been wanting the perfect mourning brooch and this piece literally asked me to be its next caretaker.
I take that responsibility seriously.
It is an enamel/amethyst/seed pearl/14k gold/milgrain brooch with the back engraved “John Lowell” “March 12,1840”
“Age 70”
John Lowell was a prominent federalist who penned part of the federalist papers.
I adore everything about it and my question is … under my loupe it is very grimy.
Dirt between the amethyst and the pearls.
Should I give thus 180+ year old a gentle steam or leave it’s original patina????
It’s taking all my willpower to leave it as is.
Oh…I recognize two corners have enamel damage. That doesn’t bother me.
The dirt does.
All expert advice needed please…. 5BDE1723-C03C-459B-B1AB-899D05AFCCC2.jpeg
 

Attachments

  • 4B2EB87A-304E-4637-9232-7E1E579269ED.jpeg
    4B2EB87A-304E-4637-9232-7E1E579269ED.jpeg
    267.1 KB · Views: 26
  • 088B27D1-68DC-47E0-A635-4ED5A6979CDF.jpeg
    088B27D1-68DC-47E0-A635-4ED5A6979CDF.jpeg
    274.6 KB · Views: 21
  • 0B1B5514-2BD1-4EAB-B359-02DC2EB537F4.jpeg
    0B1B5514-2BD1-4EAB-B359-02DC2EB537F4.jpeg
    223.5 KB · Views: 21
  • 41D1A0C9-45A7-46C2-AF66-ADEAAD296B37.jpeg
    41D1A0C9-45A7-46C2-AF66-ADEAAD296B37.jpeg
    213.1 KB · Views: 23

Bron357

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 22, 2014
Messages
6,225
I would, very so gently, with a damp soft toothbrush give it a gentle scrub. use a soft cloth to wipe over after grime is lifted. Keep in mind that the pearls might loosen so that’s why ever so gentle care is needed.
As for the chipped enamel, my go to repair is nail polish. Use a bit of tape at the edges of the area and just dab a fraction of polish onto the damaged area. Just a dab. I use a toothpick. Given there are so many colours of polish available you can practically match any enamel.
the other benefit is that it’s not permanent, an equal dab of polish remover will take it off again.
 

SapphireBomb

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Dec 15, 2021
Messages
118
@Bron357 thank you so much.
I have a gut feeling that there may be hair or fabric tucked inside the piece as it is very thick through the center portion (it’s not a locket and doesn’t open) so I do not want to get it wet at all just in case.
 

stracci2000

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 26, 2007
Messages
7,031
Sometimes, in cases like this, I just go over the recessed areas with a clean dry toothbrush.
This will brush the dust and grunge away and brighten up the whole piece.
I betcha that thing opens somehow......or maybe the amethyst snaps out.
That would explain the deep crevice between the amethyst and the pearls.
 
Last edited:

88_star

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Mar 1, 2022
Messages
111
Could be that the amethyst is glued/secured if hair was removed from the center so there's another reason to not get it too wet in the cleaning process (so as not to dissolve or loosen the glue). I think a soft dry brush and a cloth may do wonders.
 

LightBright

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Messages
1,244
My opinion is: do not touch it until a professional can advise you. If it’s hair (very possible) or fabric in the brooch, it might mold if you get it wet. Pearls are very delicate, I have no idea how to clean them but I suspect NOT cleaning them is advised. In this case, any home restoration could backfire IMO. So I would advise finding someone who can know exactly how to treat it OR advise to Leave it alone. I say this because it is an important historical heirloom, etc.
 

Daisys and Diamonds

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Apr 30, 2019
Messages
17,616
On this very sad day, it seems fitting that my very first mourning brooch arrived in the mail.
I have been wanting the perfect mourning brooch and this piece literally asked me to be its next caretaker.
I take that responsibility seriously.
It is an enamel/amethyst/seed pearl/14k gold/milgrain brooch with the back engraved “John Lowell” “March 12,1840”
“Age 70”
John Lowell was a prominent federalist who penned part of the federalist papers.
I adore everything about it and my question is … under my loupe it is very grimy.
Dirt between the amethyst and the pearls.
Should I give thus 180+ year old a gentle steam or leave it’s original patina????
It’s taking all my willpower to leave it as is.
Oh…I recognize two corners have enamel damage. That doesn’t bother me.
The dirt does.
All expert advice needed please…. 5BDE1723-C03C-459B-B1AB-899D05AFCCC2.jpeg

what a lovelly piece
how fittingly sad that it arrived today
 

SapphireBomb

Shiny_Rock
Trade
Joined
Dec 15, 2021
Messages
118
I’m not sure you can see a difference but I can and thru the loupe it looks spic and span.
All I did was gently wipe with a slightly damp q-tip dipped in distilled water and the gunk lifted right off onto the q-tip.
Then I gently passed a dry q-tip over it.
The gold and pearls look gleaming now!
Thanks all!! 4E7C7002-599F-49FC-A489-CA5EC78B2497.jpeg
 

Attachments

  • 79846949-F659-4A88-8C77-B2E7E589410C.jpeg
    79846949-F659-4A88-8C77-B2E7E589410C.jpeg
    220.3 KB · Views: 3
Be a part of the community Get 3 HCA Results
    Gifting With Whiteflash
    Gifting With Whiteflash - 10/01
    Did You See September 2022's Jewels Of The Weeks?
    Did You See September 2022's Jewels Of The Weeks? - 09/30
    Did You See September's Throwbacks?
    Did You See September's Throwbacks? - 09/29
Top