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How to Clean Your Valuable Cloisonne Without Causing Any Damage

How to Clean Cloisonne
We love to accumulate beautiful things and flaunt them, don't we? However, those beautiful little things need regular cleaning to remain so. And if it is cloisonne, it will need special care. This HomeQuicks post tells you how to clean cloisonne vases, jewelry, or any other item made from this enamelware.
Rucha Phatak
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2018
Quick Tip
Use only a soft bristled toothbrush or a makeup brush to clean dust off the cloisonné.
Cloisonné is a technique of creating designs on a metal surface with a colored glass paste and metal wire enclosures. These enclosures are known as cloisons (French for partitions), and hence, the name.

The enclosures are generally made from thin gold, silver, or copper wires. They are either pasted or soldered on the metal surface. A colored glass paste or enamel is painted in each section. The surface is fired at a low temperature. Enamel usually shrinks after this. The filling and firing process is repeated several times till the enamel completely fills the enclosures. Then, the cloisons are rubbed till they become visible. To finish off, those cloisons are gilded.

Cloisonné jewelry or vases need special care as they are made from different materials. Here is how you can take care of cloisonné objects.
Cleaning Instructions
✤ Choose a flat surface, like a tabletop, to do the cleaning work. Make sure the surface will not be disturbed during the cleaning process.
Empty table
✤ Wash your hands thoroughly. Dry them completely before handling a cloisonné object. It will avoid getting any oil residue from your hands on it.
Woman washing her hands
✤ Lay a lint-free towel on the flat surface. It will work as a cushion for the cloisonné.
Woman laying towel on table
✤ Place your cloisonné object on the towel.
Cloisonne eggs placed on napkin
✤ Wipe the cloisonné with a dry cloth to remove the surface dust. Soft-bristled brushes can be used for the cleaning as well.
Woman wiping cloisonne with cloth
✤ You can use any of the following methods to clean the cloisonné.
Dry Cleaning
1. Take a fresh new cloth and wipe an area of the cloisonné in a circular motion.

2. Wipe the area till it shines.

3. Following the above method, shine the cloisonné in small sections. Cleaning in sections is ideal if you are cleaning a big object like cloisonné vase.

4. If the cloth gets dirty, continue the process with a new clean cloth.
Cleaning with a Silver Polishing Cloth
1. Dampen the silver polishing cloth slightly with water.

2. Wipe the cloisonné section by section with the damp cloth.

3. Use another dry silver-cleaning cloth to wipe the cloisonné.
Cleaning with a Jeweler's Cloth
1. Gently rub the jeweler's cloth on the tarnished area of cloisonné in a circular motion.

2. Rub the cloth as many times as you need to shine that area.
Cleaning with a Jewelry Cleaner
1. Get a small amount of jewelry cleaner made specifically for enamel on a cloth.

2. Gently rub it on a little section of the cloisonné.

3. Follow the process to clean it section by section.

4. Wipe the cloisonné with a dry cloth in the end.
✤ Place the cloisonné to dry. Keep it away from direct sunlight.
Cloisonné Cleaning and Caring Tips
◆ Always use a soft and lint-free cloth to clean cloisonné.

◆ Avoid using any type of chemical and abrasive on cloisonné objects as they might scratch the glass enamel.

◆ Do not soak the objects in water. As the cloisonné surface is porous, it will absorb the liquid. Bubbles might form on the cloisonné surface. It can also cause discoloration.

◆ Avoid using a feather duster on cloisonné surface, which might dislodge a portion of the enamel.
Cloisonne jewelry in box
◆ Never clean your cloisonné item in an ultrasonic cleaner.

◆ If the cloisonné item is small, you can seal it in a felt-lined box and store it away to avoid causing it any damage.

◆ Keep cloisonné jewelry in separate compartments of your jewelry box.
In the end, it is always best to consult an expert before handling a precious cloisonné piece. You can take it to a jewelry or antique shop to get it clean and mended. You might have to shell some amount of money, but you will get your lovely cloisonné items cleaned professionally.