Friday, October 24, 2008

Cleaning Silver Jewelry

Being a jeweler, several customers had asked me how to clean their sterling silver jewelry without the hard work of hand rubbing with polishing cloth. I usually use a polishing lathe or a tumbler to clean my creations before they ever leave my studio. Well, not everyone have access to these equipment. So I did some research and found the following organic method that only requires simple household items. (Note that this WILL NOT work on silver plated items or jewelry with porous stones such as turquoise, pearls and shells.)

You will need –
- large old pot (DO NOT use this pot for food prep afterwards)
- aluminum foil
- ½ a gallon of boiling water
- ¼ cup baking soda
- ¼ cup salt
- ¼ cup liquid dish soap
- plastic spoons
- strainer

1. Line the pot with aluminum foil.
2. Spread out your sterling jewelry in the pot, making sure they don’t touch each other.
3. Mix the baking soda, salt and dish soap and put in the pot.
4. Add enough water to cover the jewelry (about 2-3 inches) and bring the water to a boil for 2-3 minutes. Avoid breathing the fumes or putting your face near the steam.
5. Use the plastic spoons to gently move the jewelry pieces around so that they touch the aluminum surfaces.
6. When your silver jewelry is shiny again, pour everything out into a strainer and rinse with water.
7. Dry and buff with soft cotton cloth.

As an alternate to cooking your silver in a pot (Steps 1-4 above), you can also use the same concoction of baking soda, salt and dish soap in an aluminum pie pan and pour boiling water into the pan. Let soak for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process as needed until the silver pieces are all clean (using fresh baking soda, salt, dish soap and boiling water each time.)

Sterling tarnishes when exposed to moisture in the air. When storing your silver jewelry, put them in anti-tarnish bags or zip lock bags and keep them away from direct sunshine. Silver will react to eggs and rubber products like rubber bands.

Hope you find this tutorial helpful!


Glass0Beads said...

I am always looking for easy 'cheap' ways to clean jewellery. I think I can handle this. Thanks for this post, Theresa.
Helene ~~Glass0Beads

Billy James said...

Cleaning Silver jewelry is really a difficult task..I like your suggestion as it is really cheap and easy and the things needed for it is easily available...