The ultimate guide to keeping your jewellery looking like new

The ultimate guide to keeping your jewellery looking like new

Will my jewellery tarnish?

I am often asked if my silver will tarnish. The answer is yes. Tarnishing is a nature process that occurs in nature, BUT, when you understand what causes tarnishing you can minimise the risk. By being equipped with the knowledge of the various ways to quickly and easily clean any tarnish that does form you can ensure that your jewellery always looks at its best.

What is tarnish?

Tarnish is a black/ grey layer that forms on the surface of silver when the silver reacts with sulphur compounds in the air. It is a type of corrosion.  Perfumes, moisturisers and deodorants can all contribute to the tarnishing of silver. Silver tarnish occurs more rapidly in areas with high humidity and high air pollution.
It is not really possible to prevent silver from tarnishing , but it is possible to slow down the rate of tarnish by observing the following guidelines:
  • Don't wear your silver jewellery whilst taking a bath or shower.
  • Develop a habit to ensure that your jewellery is the last to be put on and the first to be taken off.
  • Don't spray deodorants or perfumes when wearing your jewellery.
  • Allow creams sand lotions to be absorbed into the skin before putting on your jewellery.
  • Wipe the jewellery over with a damp cloth and dry carefully after wearing especially if the weather has been particularly hot or humid.
  • Don't wear your jewellery when working out.
  • Keep the silver clean by regularly wiping over with a silver cloth. (Silver polish and a soft brush can be used to get into hard to reach places).
The most important tip is to keep your silver clean. 
  • Use a silver cloth at the first sign of tarnish rather than allowing it to blacken. 
  • Like most things prevention is usually the best course of action.
  • Store your jewellery carefully, ideally away from moisture and light.
  • My jewellery stays tarnish free by keeping it in plastic bags in a dark safe.
  • Storing it with little bags of silica gel can help too.
  • Take care not to spray perfume, hairspray or deodorants on the jewellery.
  • Wipe the jewellery over with a damp cloth if you have been particularly hot when wearing it.
  • Keep the silver clean by regularly wiping over with a silver cloth. (Silver polish and a soft brush can be used to get into hard to reach places).
If you silver becomes tarnished watch the video and be amazed! 😁

1.How to clean silver with basic household ingredients

To summarise:
  • Line a bowl with aluminum foil.
  • Put the tarnished jewellery into the bowl , ensuring it has good contact with the foil.
  • Add one cup of boiling water, followed by one tablespoon of soda crystals and one tablespoon of salt.
  • Then add half a cup of vinegar.
  • Wait one minute.
  • Remove the jewellery and rinse in cold water.
  • Dry carefully and buff with a soft cloth.

2. How to clean textured jewellery

Cleaning textured jewellery can be tricky. Rubbing with a silver cloth or silver polish can, over time, removed the texture. This method also fails to get into the crevices and difficult to reach areas. Try the method I described in the video above first, using foil, soda crystals, salt and vinegar and if your jewellery still has traces of tarnish try this method with toothpaste.
Toothpaste is abrasive and can be used to clean jewellery. Choose your toothpaste with care, considering the jewellery to be cleaned.  Toothpastes made for babies first teeth are the most gentle, whilst whitening and charcoal activated toothpastes are the most abrasive.
The jewellery in the video below has been textured with a diamond burr and scourer so using the abrasive charcoal activated toothpaste worked very well. I would recommend testing with a milder toothpaste first to make sure that the surface of your jewellery isn't damaged.
Using a soft toothbrush rub the toothpaste over the tarnished areas until the tarnish has been eliminated. Take care not to rub polished metal or pearls and stones with the toothpaste. Rinse well in clean water, dry and buff as necessary. Your jewellery should be clean and ready to wear once more.
Remember it is always better to keep your jewellery clean , cleaning it regularly at the first sign of tarnish.

3. How to clean pearl jewellery

Add a few drops of a mild soap to warm water.  Use a soft clean to wipe over each pearl. This removes dust and remnants of perfumes and lotions. Use silver polish or a non-whitening, non charcoal toothpaste to brush over the silver clasp. I use a toothpaste for baby teeth which is the most gentle I could find. Toothpastes can be abrasive and dull polished silver so test first. Rub until the tarnish disappears, then rinse , dry and buff with a soft cloth.

4. How to clean pearl & silver jewellery.

Use a gentle toothpaste or silver polish to clean the silver. Use a paint brush to carefully wipe around the pearls with warm water and soft soap. Rinse, dry and buff with a soft cloth.
The best way to keep your jewellery in tip top condition is to keep it clean. The very simplest way to do this is use a silver cloth , a specialist cloth which has been impregnated with silver polish at the very first sign of any tarnish. if you let your jewellery tarnish past the point where it can be effectively cleaned with a silver cloth then it is time to use an alternative cleaning method.

5. Ultrasonic Cleaners

Ultra sonic cleaners are often used to clean jewellery. They and very good for cleaning some things and should NOT be used to clean other items.
What is an ultra sonic cleaner?
An ultrasonic cleaner works by creating sound waves which agitate liquid, usually water, shaking off dirt on objects placed into the liquid.
There are numerous ultrasonic cleaners on the market, some for professional use and others that have been designed for domestic use.
Ultrasonic vary in capacity, size and cost. Very small units suitable for cleaning jewellery can be purchased very easily online for between £20-£30. Not all units have a thermostat to control the liquid temperature or a timer to control the duration of a treatment.
Tap water works fine in the ultrasonic in some circumstances, but the addition of a specialist cleaning fluid, or a little liquid ammonia can give better results as can using warm water as opposed to cold.
I use an ultrasonic cleaning unit in my workshop to clean off the compounds I use in the polishing process. I always heat the liquid and add some specialist cleaning fluid.  Although ammonia cleans well, ammonia fumes are not good to have in my workshop so I use an ammonia free solution. I treat the jewellery in the ultrasonic cleaner for up to 4 minutes maximum.
An ultrasonic is really good for cleaning dirt and grease etc , but it does not remove tarnish.
It is great for cleaning gold jewellery and your diamond rings, but it absolutely should not be used on softer stones, pearls and shells .
Here is a list of what is safe to clean in an ultrasonic:
Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, amethyst and cubic zirconia and all precious metals gold, silver, platinum
Jewellery containing these should never be cleaned in an ultrasonic:
Pearls, coral, opals, emeralds, turquoise, lapis lazuli , amber, topaz, malachite.
Plated metals should also not be cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner , because if there are any chips, scratches or cracks in the plate the liquid can penetrate and lift off the plate.

6. Alcohol

A jewellery friend of mine recommends to her customers to clean their jewellery with gin. Whilst it is very true that alcohol is a solvent and can be used to clean dirt and grease from jewellery I wouldn't recommend it . Through years of experience and studious practice I have always found that gin is best poured into a glass with ice, tonic and a slice lime and imbibed 😉.