Shine On / Part II - Caring for Silver Jewelry

Caring for sterling silver jewelry

Some of my oldest and most treasured pieces of jewelry are silver. In the 90's silver was CHEAP and even on a high schooler's budget I could afford to adorn myself in stacks of silver rings. So, so many rings. A lot of these silver pieces look amazing with their time-earned, blackened/oxidized patina but for the pieces you gotta keep shiny and bright, there's lot's you can do to restore the original luster.

how to clean tarnished silver jewelry

Polishing & cleaning silver - 

Sterling silver tarnishes quickly, especially when it's not being worn often and you live in a humid climate. Here are a few ways to shine your silver up:

1. Baking soda. A miracle product for cleaning jewelry. Take a bit of baking soda and make a paste with water and apply using a soft cloth or a soft brush. Rub or brush until bright, rinse and dry.
2. Lemons are magic. Lemon juice shines silver and removes tarnish. Simply rub your piece with a lemon slice or squeeze the juice and apply with a soft bristled brush or cloth. Rub or brush until bright, rinse and dry.
3. Toothpaste works wonders. Use your fingers, an old soft bristled toothbrush or a cloth and mix the toothpaste with a bit of water and polish gently. Rinse and dry.
4. For super tarnished pieces (with no semi-precious or precious gemstones) like sterling silver chains, earrings, rings. Get some aluminum foil, baking soda, boiling water, a soft bristled brush and a towel. Follow the steps below.
*Line a deep baking dish or bowl with aluminum foil.
*Place your tarnished chains and other jewelry in the foil.
*Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the jewelry.
*Pour super hot (almost boiling) water gently over the jewelry so it is submersed. 
The baking soda should start to bubble and fizz and depending on how tarnished the piece is, should only take 1-5 minutes to clean. You should see the jewelry instantly brighten. Rinse jewelry in a bowl of cool water, using the brush to remove the baking soda and place on a towel to dry. 
5. For silver jewelry featuring gemstones or deliberate, blackened detailing, a treated polishing cloth would work best. 
6. Never use silver cleaner intended for silverware. Avoid harsh chemicals and drug store cleaners.

*A caveat - These methods may not be suitable for antique silver jewelry. Take extra care of your antique pieces & ask a local jeweler for tips about your specific piece.

how to clean sterling silver jewelry using aluminum foil

Keeping your silver jewelry looking fresh - 

As with brass and bronze jewelry, wearing your silver pieces often keeps them looking their best. Of course, we all like to switch our pieces out from time to time. And sometimes it's how and when we take the jewelry off, that counts.

1. Avoid showering or swimming with your jewelry on. Water and beauty products can affect the finish of the piece. 
2. Put your jewelry on last, after applying lotion, makeup, hairspray, etc...
3. To slow tarnish, store your silver jewelry in a cloth pouch or an air-tight plastic bag.
4.. Store your silver jewelry separately from other pieces to avoid scratching and tarnishing from other jewelry.
5. Wear your silver often!