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Vauxhall restoration.. start to finish

When I get a piece in for restoration, first step is always assess followed by a gentle cleaning, then re-assess to see what exactly needs to be done. Patina? Stone replacement? New links? Clasp? You never know until you have it in hand and get the goo off. This type of necklace is called colloquially 'Vauxhall glass' but if you look up what Vauxhall glass is, you'll find the name comes from a place in London that was famous for it's glass making back in the 1700's. These pieces date from the turn of the century to the roaring 20's (1900-1920 ish) and were made in Czechoslovakia (for the most part).

They're easy to pick out because of the beautiful faceted glass with foiled backs, the fantastic Art Deco shapes and the brilliant colors of the glass. 


This necklace in particular is a brilliant sapphire blue set in heavy brass. The stones were in great shape (100ish years old) but the metal had scratches and some patina. 





Once I cleaned the goo* off, it looked pretty good. You can see it's a bit dark but that's about it. Next step was to take out all the glass pieces and.....








HOLY CRAP there was a ton of patina, goo* and rust. I'm actually glad I got in there because left 'as is' the patina/rust/goo would eventually eat more of the metal, eat the backing off the glass pieces (metal) and destroy the piece entirely. This is fixable - once the foil backing is gone, it's not fixable at all...


I always take the glass out in order and number it so if I want to put it back EXACTLY as it was, I can do that (some clients are very particular about that and I find it helps me keep it all organized).




Oooooh! side by side comparison of what the back looks like clean vs. what it looked like when I started. Once you get to this point sometimes you're so sick of it, it's good to have a reminder of just how far you've come...so you don't chuck it out the window.. :)

Since this piece is going to live in a humid climate, I needed to take a few extra steps. Once I cleaned all the patina off of the BACK of the glass pieces (the foil backing is metallic and can patina and rust), I clear coated the backs to protect them from future moisture. This is a preventative measure that's not necessary for every piece but's important for this case.


Finally ready to re-set the glass!!

Tah Daaaahhhh!

The brass settings were all coated with clear gloss (enamel paint made for metal) again, mostly because of the climate where it's going to live but it does add a measure of protection for every day wear (in any climate).  

There you have it.. a basic step by step for restoring your Vauxhall jewelry! 


*goo; what I call the icky grime that covers vintage jewelry. Composed of hair spray, dead skin cells, perfume, dirt, pollution etc.