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How to Clean Silver Jewellery

There’s no denying that silver jewellery is simply stunning.  Truly versatile in style, it can be worn day or night to compliment any outfit perfectly.  From rings and bracelets to bangles and necklaces, its known for having a beautiful shine, so of course you want to keep it that way.  Therefore, if your silver jewellery is looking a little dull, tired, or even turning black, don’t worry, we are here to help.  We have created a quick and easy guide full of simple life hacks that will have your silver jewellery looking like new in no time.


Dull vs Black

When your favourite jewellery becomes dull, it can be tempting to put it to the back of a drawer to be forgotten about.  The shine is starting to fade and you find yourself skipping past your once favourite piece. Then, even worse, you notice it turning black!  This is known as tarnishing.  Whether you wear your jewellery every day, on a weekend or for special occasions only, it’s inevitable that this will happen, and unfortunately, silver jewellery is especially susceptible to this.  But don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you can no longer wear it, it just means that it needs a little love to restore it.  


What happens when silver tarnishes?

When silver is exposed to oxygen and sulphur in the air, a chemical bond occurs and it reacts with the metal.  This reaction causes a dull film on the surface which quite commonly turns black and is what we mean by tarnish.  Unfortunately, even with the most care in the world, this will always happen, which is why proper cleaning is essential to the life of your jewellery.  Other factors that play a part in tarnishing are swimming pools, sea water, sweat, soaps, makeup, lotions, perfume and other cosmetic items.  

How do I remove tarnish from my silver jewellery?

Now we know the how and they why, let’s talk about getting that sparkle back. We have compiled a few simple methods that are tried and tested and can be easily carried out at home. Most of which use everyday items you’ll already have, so no need to spend a fortune on fancy cleaning products.

Silver Cleaning Cloth & Cleaning Solution

These are both great little inventions for on the spot cleaning.  The clothes are 100% cotton, infused with an anti-tarnish agent which will keep on working for months as long as they aren’t washed (this will remove the coating).  Simply rub over the silver and you should see an instant improvement.  The silver cleaning solution kit comes with a small soft scrub brush and solution to bring your tarnished jewellery back to new by simply dipping in the item into the container for 60 seconds scrubbing clean if required and then rinsing. These cloths and solutions can be purchased for around £7, making them excellent value for money.  Keep them handy for regular touch ups after each wear or set time aside for regular cleaning, either way, these cloths and solutions will become your best friend.

Warm Soapy Water

Simple yet effective, this process takes a little longer but has excellent results. Simply add washing up liquid to a bowl of warm water and let your jewellery soak for around 30 minutes. When the time is up, transfer to another bowl to rinse off and gently scrub the jewellery with a soft toothbrush until the tarnish is removed. Rinse again under warm water if required to remove any residue and allow to dry naturally. Voilà, your jewellery is restored!

Aluminium Foil, Salt and a little Baking Soda

This works particularly well on sterling silver jewellery and is super easy to do at home with everyday kitchen essentials. Line a bowl with aluminium foil. Boil 2 cups of water and place in the bowl. Add in a tablespoon of salt and wait for it to dissolve. . . this is where the magic happens. The combination of salt and aluminium will react with the silver to remove the tarnish and leave your jewellery super shiny again. For extra fizz on heavily tarnished items, try adding a little baking soda to the mix for dazzling results.

White Vinegar and Water

White vinegar has been a staple item in kitchen cupboards for many years now.  Known for a multitude of uses, it's also a firm favourite within the jewellery world too!  Simply combine equal parts of white vinegar with water in a bowl and mix it together.  Soak a soft toothbrush in the solution and gently brush the tarnished areas of your silver jewellery.  This solution is especially brilliant for getting into any grooves or around any precious stones, leaving you with a beautifully sparkling piece of jewellery once again.

How do I prevent tarnishing?

After successful cleaning, your silver jewellery should be gleaming again so it’s understandable that you want to keep it that way for as long as possible, so take a look at these handy tips to minimise any future tarnishing.

  • Keep silver items separate in their own airtight bags - ok, so not as pretty as the beautiful box it came in but this will most definitely help by slowing down the tarnishing process. You could even label each piece for quick and easy access, now who doesn’t love an organised jewellery box?!
  • Remove jewellery when washing your hands to avoid soaps lingering on the surface.
  • Remove jewellery during exercise to reduce the amount of sweat it comes into contact with.
  • Remove jewellery when entering industrial work environments to avoid coming into contact with any unwanted particles, chemicals, scratches or anything else that maybe be harmful.
  • Put any jewellery on after perfumes to prevent it from settling on your silver.
  • Don’t be afraid to wear it. Friction slows down the tarnishing process so the more you wear it, the more it’ll shine.
  • Avoid long exposure in humid environments.
  • And finally, clean jewellery regularly to maintain it’s beautiful appearance.

We hope our guide on how to clean silver jewellery has been useful reading and you feel ready to tackle the tarnish, but don’t forget, if you have any further questions then just give our friendly team a call here at Lowry Jewellers on 028 92 670566 or 028 40 662196, who are always happy to help, or of course, advise on your next purchase.