October 16, 2017
One question I am asked over and over at the gallery is "how do I keep my silver jewelry clean and polished?"
Well, you can use a polishing cloth and a little elbow grease, a great method if there are stones in the piece you want to clean.There are dips available, but I personally am not a fan, and the more one can limit exposure to chemicals the better as far as I'm concerned.
A soft toothbrush, plain toothpaste (no whitening or abrasives), a little warm water and again that darned elbow grease works great if your piece has colored gemstones or diamonds - avoid using this method on turquoise, pearls or amber! Scrub, rinse well, dry and you're done!
My favorite method involves a little old school science...think lava and volcanoes, lol. This method works especially well with chains or pieces with deep recesses that are hard to get to with a cloth - do not use this method on mixed metal pieces, i.e. copper, brass, silverplate etc - usually safe for gold, but when in doubt clean by hand.
Take a Pyrex or ceramic bowl and place in a layer of tinfoil, shiny side up.
Sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda onto the tinfoil and place your silver jewelry on top of it (NO STONES - NO PEARLS - NO AMBER!) While this method is absolutely safe for cleaning your silver, many stones can be damaged or destroyed by the process so stick to a polishing cloth or the toothpaste method for those pieces.
Bring some water to a boil, remove from heat, and pour into bowl, enough to submerge the silver.
Now the science part - oooh and ahhh as the baking soda and tinfoil react and bubble like mad, all the while removing the tarnish from your jewelry! Leave the pieces submerged until the water cools, remove it from the bowl and rinse thoroughly, and voila!
Once your pieces are clean, rinsed and dried thoroughly, a great way to keep them nicely polished is to place into a ziplock bag along with a piece of chalk, or one of those little desicant packs you find in food products or new shoes - tarnish comes from moisture and oxygen so placing either of these in the bag helps keep the pieces clean and shiny when you're not wearing them.
P.S. Use caution with the boiling water, glass or ceramic bowls, and yes even the tinfoil...kids, don't try this at home without an adult present. Adults, if you've been drinking, do this another time...and again, if you have any doubt about the piece you want to clean take the safe route and clean it by hand.