Whilst all jewellery types age and tarnish as the years goes by, silver jewellery is particularly susceptible to losing its shine over time, and in extreme cases can even go an ugly shade of black. This change of colour is call tarnishing and is the direct result of a chemical reaction between the silver and sulphur in the air.
Whilst most silver jewellery today (including the pieces created by Lucy Quartermaine) is plated with very thin layer of rhodium to protect the metal and make it sparkle brighter, as you wear the jewellery this protective will gradually wear off the silver underneath, causing your jewellery to lose its brightness and discolour.
In addition to reacting with sulphur within the air, silver jewellery designs can also deteriorate due to the every day substances that we put on our hands and body. Perfumes, hand creams and some food types can have side effects on the beautiful sterling silver jewellery creations that we wear. Luckily there are some industry approved products as well as some inexpensive DIY solutions to remove tarnish whilst polishing and cleaning the silver, ensuring that the pure silver shines through for years to come.
Here are 15 techniques and DIY solutions that you can use to clean your jewellery at home:
1. Connoisseurs Silver Jewellery Cleaner
For a fast, convenient way to clean sterling silver jewellery, Connoisseurs Silver Jewellery Cleaner quickly removes tarnish and restores shine and brilliance to sterling silver jewellery with minimum effort and is extremely affordable at just £8.49 for a 250ml tub.
2. Ultrasonic Cleaners
Whilst this particular method of cleaning is a bit more expensive, this is by far the best way to the shine back in your different types of jewellery. It can also be used on yellow gold or rose gold jewellery pieces, providing the perfect solution for all of your collection. Home solutions such as the portable, low noice system from Vcutech offers the leading solution.
3. Aluminium Foil + Washing Up Liquid
This simple little DIY cleaning trick is perfect for silver bracelets, earrings and sterling silver necklaces that are only lightly tarnished. To achieve the perfect finish, line a bowl with aluminium foil and fill with hot water (not boiling). Once you’ve done this, add a tablespoon of washing up liquid and stir well. Then simply drop your silver pieces into the soapy mixture all them to soak for a minute or so. Take the silver out with kitchen tongs, rinse with lukewarm water and lay on a paper towel to let the items dry thoroughly. The reaction with the aluminium foil and soap solution will remove the tarnish and bring back the natural shine of the silver.
4. Aluminium Foil + Baking Soda
This is one of the best solutions available to clean any form of silver jewellery. The aluminium-baking soda bath is very useful when you need to clean more than one thing at a time and will get the best level of shine out of all of the solutions we’ve looked at.
To use this method, cover the bottom of a large baking sheet with aluminium foil, with the shiny side of the foil facing up. To avoid any unnecessary chemical reactions with Stainless Steel we’d always suggest using a ceramic, pyrex or glass tray as your vessel. Once you’ve done this, fill with warm water and add baking soda. You need around 1 tablespoon of baking soda for every 2 litres of water. Bring to boil over on your hob and put the tarnished silver inside for 15 seconds (no longer).
Take out the silver using kitchen tongs. Leave the silverware on paper towel to cool down and all of the tarnish will have magically disappeared. For built jewellery pieces with a more stubborn tarnish you may have to repeat the procedure several times to work through the layers. Never use this recipe for jewellery that contains gemstones.
5. Water & Cornflour
If your silver has lost its shine this simple little recipe will help you restore it. Prepare a thick paste of water and cornflour (1 tablspoon of cornflour to 50ml – 75ml of water) and apply it to your silver jewellery item. Let the mixture dry completely and rub it off with a towel to polish the surface and restore the shine of your jewellery. If you are out of cornflour you can substitute it with cream of tartar.
6. Goddards Jewellery Cleaner
As one of the oldest jewellery cleaners on the market, Goddards Jewellery Cleaner is a simple jewellery dip system that is ideal for cleaning silver jewellery and gold jewellery alike. It does not contain Ammonia so will not damage soft gem stones like Pearl and Amber, making it a wonderful choice for different types of jewellery.
7. Hand Sanitiser
Hand sanitising products are a quickened easy way to polish your sterling silver rings or sterling silver earrings on the go. Squeeze a small amount of hand sanitiser on soft paper towel or cloth and gently rub your jewellery. This will cause the mat look and slight tarnishing of the piece to be removed and will ensure that the piece is shiny again.
Please DO NOT use this technique on any jewellery items that contain gemstones as the ingredients within the hand sanitiser may damage the stones.
This is a classic, easy DIY silver cleaning technique. Whilst making sure that you use a non-gel based and non-abrasive toothpaste, squeeze a small amount of it on to a soft cloth or paper towel. Rub onto the jewellery with circular motions to polish it and remove the tarnish. Leave it for 5 minutes and then rinse off the toothpaste with water. Components within the toothpaste will bring back the natural shine which will last for several months.
9. Clean with Ketchup
It may sound strange, but tomato ketchup works great if you need to remove tarnish from silver as there’s an acidity within the sauce that helps to clean the natural metal. This method is useful if you have a couple silver items to clean.
Squeeze a few drops of ketchup on a paper towel and gently rub the tarnished silver jewellery. If there is old, tarnish built up apply ketchup directly onto these areas and leave it for u to 15 minutes, depending on the amount and of tarnish present. After this time is up, gently rub the jewellery with a microfibre cloth and rinse with warm water.
10. Lemon & Lime Fizzy Drinks
Like ketchup, the acid in lemon and lime and sugar in fizzy drinks is extremely good for bringing back the shine in silver jewellery. To do this, get a can of any lemon or lime drink and add it to a bowl. Submerse your jewellery and leave for an hour for the drink to take its effect . After the time is up take out the silver, rinse thoroughly with clean water and dry well with a paper towel or soft cloth. This method works only for slightly tarnished silver items.
11. Window Cleaning Spray
Window cleaner works great not only on glass surfaces but also for restoring the shine of sterling silver. Whilst this won’t remove heavy tarnishing, it will help to bring back some of the natural sparkle. Spray a little on a cloth and start scrubbing your jewels to bring the piece to a nice shine. Use a soft toothbrush for earrings or items with a setting.
12. Ammonia + Water
This is an easy way to brighten silver jewellery and is extremely quick to do. Prepare a solution of 50ml ammonia and and 100ml of warm water. Soak your silver items in the liquid for 10 minutes. After the time is up take them out of the solution, wipe with a soft cloth and buff with dry cotton cloth to polish the surface. It’s not recommended to use ammonia on antique pieces as it may discolour the surface.
13. White Distilled Vinegar + Baking Soda
This recipe isn’t appropriate for antique silver items but it is still it’s a great way to restore the lustre and shine of your sterling silver jewellery. Put the silver items in a bowl of appropriate size and cover them with white distilled vinegar. Add baking soda into the bowl – the approximate proportions are 4 tablespoons of baking soda for every cup of vinegar. Leave the silver in the mixture for 1 hour. Rinse with clean water and dry well with soft cotton cloth.
14. Baking Soda + Water
If you have to deal with stubborn built-up tarnish on your silver jewellery prepare a thick paste from baking soda and lukewarm water. Apply it onto the tarnished spots with a damp cloth. Leave it for 2-3 minutes then gently rub with soft cloth. Don’t rub too hard to avoid scratching the surface. If there are small details or crevices use soft toothbrush to reach and clean them. Rinse your jewellery with cold water and dry with soft cloth. Buff with circular motions to polish the silver.
15. Wear your jewellery
One of the best ways to prevent unique sterling silver jewelry from tarnishing is actually just simply wearing it. If you wear your jewellery all of the while the natural oils from our skins will help to protect the metal and ensure that each piece doesn’t tarnish. This is particularly true with sterling silver earrings.