How to Clean Silver Jewellery
Is your silver jewellery not looking as good as it once did? We all have earrings, necklaces, bracelets and other pieces of jewellery that we may have neglected over time. It’s true that silver jewellery will tarnish when it is exposed to air and light, but there are a number of ways you can restore it back to its former glory.
What is tarnish?
Sterling silver is widely used in jewellery and is loved for its vibrance and versatility. Sterling silver (unlike pure silver) is a combination of silver and other metals, including copper.
Copper reacts to the moisture and sulphur in the air and causes a thin, black layer of corrosion, known as tarnish.
If you are wondering how to clean tarnished silver, there are a number of simple ways, using both silver polish and other natural and greener methods.
Cleaning silver jewellery with polish
One of the best ways of cleaning silver jewellery is with special jewellery polish or a silver polishing cloth.
It is worth noting that some silversmiths intentionally use the process of oxidization to highlight small details within the jewellery. Through intense cleaning, these can sometimes be lost, so stay away from the intentionally oxidized areas when cleaning your silver jewellery.
Silver is soft and can be scratched, so apply the silver polish to a soft or microfibre cloth, dampened if necessary. Do not use tissue because they contain fibres that could damage the silver. Use back and forth motions that mirror the grain of the silver and use different sections of your cloth to avoid putting tarnish back onto your jewellery. Do not rub in circles as this will magnify any scratches or imperfections. When you have finished, rinse the jewellery under water or wipe it with a clean, wet cloth. This will ensure that polish does not harden or get stuck in intricate details. Afterwards, dry the piece thoroughly and buff it, so it shines.
Please note that not all ways are suitable for all types of jewellery and particularly jewellery set with an array of gemstones. For example, take care when cleaning jewellery with clear gemstones: the silver polish can lodge visibly under the gemstone settings. Care should also be taken with porous gemstones like lapis or turquoise, as they can absorb any silver cleaner or water.
If you are in any doubt, the best thing is to come and see us in store and we can advise the best method to you!
Natural ways of cleaning silver jewellery
There are many low-cost and environmentally-friendly ways to clean your silver jewellery.
So, feel free to use common household products to clean the less valuable items. Here is our guide on how to clean silver with toothpaste and various other products:
Believe it or not, toothpaste is a great way to clear silver! Choose plain white toothpaste without whitening agents or abrasive elements. As with using silver polish, put a small amount on a soft cloth and rub backwards and forwards gently. As the cloth darkens, use a new piece and gently continue. Once your jewellery is shiny again, rinse and dry it carefully.
Lemon and salt:
Squeeze the juice of one lemon into a bowl along with three tablespoons of salt and add hot water. Leave your jewellery in the solution for around five minutes or longer, if necessary.Rinse and dry.
Coca Cola is not simply good for drinking! Pour some into a bowl and leave your jewellery to soak for around ten minutes. Remove, then rinse and dry with a soft cloth.
If your silver has lost its shine, cornflower (or cream of tartar) is another way of getting rid of tarnish. Prepare a thick paste of cornflower and water and then apply it to the item of jewellery. Let it dry and then rub it off with a towel to polish the surface and restore its shine.
It may sound strange, but ketchup is another common household product that can help to remove tarnish from silver. Squeeze a few drops onto a soft cloth and rub away. If the tarnish is more pronounced, you may need to apply the ketchup directly to the areas and leave for ten minutes. Rinse and rub with a microfibre cloth.
Olive oil and lemon:
Mix the juice of one lemon with two tablespoons of olive oil. Rub the jewellery with the solution before rinsing and drying carefully.
Additional tips on how to stop silver tarnish
Now your jewellery is looking good again, what are the ways you can keep it looking sparkling? Follow these handy tips and advice:
- Where there is more humidity, direct sunlight and pollution, silver jewellery will tarnish more quickly. Cosmetics, body lotions, perfume and hairspray can also accelerate tarnishing. Put your jewellery on after you have applied any perfume, so it does not ‘stick’ to your jewellery.
- One of the best ways to avoid tarnish is to wear your jewellery. That’s because the skin ‘cleans’ it with friction, so your silver jewellery will maintain its shiny look. Also, what better way to keep your jewellery looking good than to wear it!
- You may also wish to store each item in its own anti-tarnish bag in a cool and dry area. If you add a piece of chalk to your jewellery container, this will also draw moisture from the air. We supply plastic grip-lock bags with all purchases and these - not glamorous we know - are the best thing to keep your jewellery safe and moisture free. We store all our stock jewellery in these bags!
- It helps if you try to regularly clean your jewellery, as regular cleaning will stop it discolouring. If your jewellery is beginning to show signs of tarnish, wash it with warm water and gentle detergent, before drying it thoroughly. If this still does not remove the tarnish, use one of the methods above.
- Never wear rubber gloves when handling or washing your jewellery because rubber corrodes silver.
- Always clean and wash items of silver jewellery individually because silver scratches easily and pieces (or other items) can damage each other.
- Avoid exercising whilst wearing sterling silver jewellery and never wear it whilst swimming as chlorine will also react with the metal.
How we can help
The team at Pomegranate are here to assist with all aspects of your jewellery. From choosing the perfect pieces, to keeping them looking great, we are on hand to help. Pop in and see us, or get in touch with us.