So lets get straight down to business. Ive been designing, making and cleaning silver jewellery for 15 years. The cleaning is particularly tricky with silver jewellery as it tarnishes so badly, if not cared for properly. Recently I found a really simple way to get all that black tarnish off silverware and silver jewellery.
We all know you can buy cleaning cloths with special solutions embedded, abrasive silver cleaning dips, (not a fan of these, as they actually make the tarnishing process happen even quicker in the future and are very damaging to the actual metal and to pearls and stones) ultra sonic cleaning machines - but not all of us have access to that. I can re-polish jewellery, but again, a polishing machine is not something the regular person has in his bedroom! And anyhow, polishing doesn´t get into all the nooks and crannies of the piece unless you have a special mop head. I could go on - finishing silver jewellery is an art in itself and maintaining its beautiful silver luster is even more difficult and needs attention on a weekly basis, especially if you have a jewellery shop or business. Textured finishes can be difficult to polish up again once tarnished. So this technic works great for all those difficult intricate pieces you have, as it gets into all those difficult places and with the help of a soft, old tooth brush you really can get it all shinny again.
So this is my trick for you guys, the person on the ground with a box of tarnished silver jewellery that you don´t wear and keep meaning to bring to your local jeweller to clean. The secret ingredients are as follows:
1. Tin foil
2. Bicarbonate soda
3. Boiling water and a glass/ceramic bowl
Ok, so next your wondering how these three little things mixed together actually work, well, its science and without getting too technical, the tarnish that you see is a build up of sulphur, due to moisture in the air, this is why I always recommend keeping your jewellery in an airtight container or ziplock bag for safe keeping. The sulphur is attracted off the silver by the tin foil when bicarbonate soda is added to the mix.
How you do it, and believe me I was shocked at the results.
1. Line the glass or ceramic dish with tin foil,
2. Add boiling water,
3. Add 2 table spoons of bicarbonate soda.
4. Drop in your piece, leave for around 1/2mins stir once or twice
Then take out your piece and rinse thoroughly and you will see the difference straight away. If it was very tarnished you can also scrub with an old, soft tooth brush and repeat the dipping process.
The pictures below are of me trying it out on some antique jewellery, silver ware and some chains that had become a bit grubby, I wear them every day and even being a jeweller I could never get them properly clean!!
Get your bowl, tin foil and bicarbonate soda ready like this below. That´s one very tarnished silver dish my granny gave me, even with silver cleaning products this didn´t come clean. I´ve tried serveral times, without success.
Below is the rest of the tarnished pieces for cleaning, the shell pendant and the little pine cone are actually 9 carat gold, I wanted to see if it works for gold too, looks like it does as the black came off the shell. The antique earring and the tiny moroccan pot and spoon, they were particularly tarnished and was also at a lose as to how to clean them...
This is my son putting the silver plate into the ceramic bowl and stirring the mixture. He particularly liked the fuzzing sound when the reaction happened!
Cleaned items, just look at that spoon and the plate. Wow. Very pleased with how they turned out!
Not sure if you can see but the chains actually cleaned up very well, a polish with a soft cloth now will bring them up even more. They were shinny on the outside from polishing with a normal cloth, but had ingrained dirt and tarnish on the inside of every link which I could never get out myself.
Try it yourself, I think you will also be very pleased, totally natural and doesnt damage the piece at all, rinse well and dry well after, and to bring the piece up to a shiny shine, polish with a jewellery cloth.
So I hope you have found this useful, let me know your results in the comments below. Any question feel free to ask. I enjoyed this little experiment so much and now you know how to clean your jewellery too.
Happy cleaning. Happy wearing.