How to Restore Rhinestone Jewelry

by Mercedes Valladares
Taking time to clean and replace rhinestones makes your jewelry or other accessories look brand new.

Taking time to clean and replace rhinestones makes your jewelry or other accessories look brand new.

Vintage collectors and jewelry enthusiasts encountering lusterless "bling" or missing rhinestones can restore these jewelry pieces to their original style. Though searching for a close to perfect rhinestone match may be a time-consuming task, the result will be worth your while. Vintage jewelry generally takes an extra step, including knowing the history surrounding the piece, which often leads you to find the proper stone replacement. When restored jewelry looks as if it were never repaired, it signals quality restoration. Whether you are working with clear or colored rhinestones, leave soldering to the professionals while you clean and replace your rhinestones.

Cleaning Rhinestones

Inspect the rhinestone jewelry for dirt, residue or grease prior to cleaning using a magnifying glass. It is also important to locate any loose rhinestones, which will require extra caution while cleaning.

Brush away any debris, dust or dirt with an old makeup brush, which can deposit into the crevices, prongs, clasps or findings. If you are working with delicate rhinestones, replace the makeup brush with a cotton swab. Certain rhinestone types can be easily scratched with brush bristles.

Spray a light coating of glass surface cleaner onto a clean cotton swab. As an alternative, pour mild soap into a bowl of water and stir until the soap dilutes. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray once above the swab and allow the mist to fall into the cotton. Do not soak or wet the swab.

Blot the cotton swab onto a clean, soft cloth. You can also squeeze the cotton with your fingertips to remove any moisture from the surface cleaner. Continue the process until the cotton is barely damp.

Brush the barely damp cotton swab gently over each rhinestone. Continue to gently glide the swab over the stones until the dullness begins to dissipate. The gleam in the rhinestones will begin to return as you continue cleaning.

Dab a soft cloth with jewelry polishing liquid. Polish the rhinestones according to your particular brand of polishing liquid's recommendation, and let dry.

Replacing Rhinestones

Inspect the jewelry once again with your magnifying glass. This time, you will be looking for prong or adhesive backed rhinestone settings. This step is essential prior to locating the matching stone. Prongs require prong-opening pliers, while adhesive backings require jewelry glue.

Flip the rhinestones to its backside with your fingertips. If you are working with small stones, use dull tweezers to pick up.

Pour jewelry adhesive into the back plunger of a craft syringe. Leave the cap over the tip until you have finished pouring the adhesive.

Push the plunger until a pin-drop size of adhesive forms at the tip of the syringe. Dab the small amount onto the backside of the rhinestone. Pick up with your dull tweezers and carefully replace the stone to its original location.

Skip steps 3 and 4 in this section if your rhinestones are held with prongs. Open prongs with caution using prong opening pliers. Pick up the replacement rhinestone with your dull tweezers and put it into the corresponding location. Gently close the prongs with the pliers until the rhinestones are secured in place.

Items you will need

  • Magnifying glass
  • Old makeup brush
  • Cotton swab (3)
  • Glass surface cleaner
  • Soft cloth (2)
  • Jewelry polishing liquid
  • Dull tweezers
  • Jewelry adhesive
  • Craft syringe
  • Prong opening pliers


  • If you do not have a glass surface cleaner, pour mild soap into a bowl of water. Pour the solution into a spray bottle. Spray once onto an old soft-bristle toothbrush. Blot the toothbrush to ensure the bristles are barely damp before cleaning.


  • Avoid spraying glass surface cleaner directly onto the rhinestone, which can cause permanent damage. Whether new or vintage, rhinestones vary in quality and have also been exposed to different elements.

About the Author

Mercedes Valladares is the founder of M721Organics and has been an independent designer for over 15 years. Her work experience commenced during college with manufacturers based in New York and Hong Kong. Her education includes LIM College, International Fine Arts College and design certification from the Paris Fashion Institute. She produces eco-crafting videos and writes recycling articles online.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images