Though it might not necessarily be at the top of your priority list, knowing how to clean silver jewellery is worthwhile. After all, though you might wear some items daily, you never know when you might need to ‘summon’ your wider collection, as it were.
Silver jewellery, in particular, is susceptible to tarnishing when exposed to certain chemicals or gases, such as sulphur, in the air. Being left in storage with minimal wear for too long can also cause silver jewellery to tarnish and fade.
So, if you’ve got an event or special occasion on the horizon you’re planning for, now’s as good a time as any to get your silver jewellery out for a proper clean.
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The specific type of silver your jewellery is made from often determines how best to clean it. Most silver jewellery will either be:
- pure silver
- sterling silver
You should double-check what type of silver yours is before cleaning it.
Related: How to test silver
You can clean silver jewellery, such as rings and necklaces, with your standard dish soap or washing-up liquid.
First, add a few drops of it to a bowl of warm water and mix in until bubbles begin to form. Then, place your silver jewellery into the mixture and leave to soak for between five and ten minutes.
Once your jewellery has had a good time to soak, take it out and use a toothbrush to scrub around the crevices. Then rinse off the excess soap with warm water.
Dry off your jewellery by gently rubbing it down with a silver polishing cloth. For this part, avoid using anything abrasive that could scratch the silver, such as a paper towel.
Sterling silver is an alloy of silver, containing 92.5% by weight of silver and 7.5% by weight of other metals—usually copper or, in some cases, brass.
There’s a good chance much of your silver jewellery collection is made from this type of silver. Sterling silver tends to be stronger than pure silver, thanks to the presence of other metals. However, these other metals are also often what causes your jewellery to tarnish.
You can clean sterling silver jewellery at home using the baking soda method.
The first step is to make a paste consisting of two parts baking soda and one part water. Then, gently rub the paste onto your jewellery and leave it to dry completely.
Once the paste is dry, rinse it off and dry the jewellery with a soft cloth or microfibre towel.
If this doesn’t work, you can create other cleaning solutions for sterling silver jewellery at home using things like lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, salt, and even toothpaste.
If your jewellery is silver-plated, it means it’s predominantly made from a base metal, such as copper or brass, and then covered in a thin layer of sterling silver on the outside.
Silver-plated jewellery can be cleaned in a number of ways—the first of which is the good old soap and water method we talked about earlier. You can follow that cleaning method for silver-plated jewellery in the same way you would for pure silver.
However, if your silver jewellery is badly tarnished and needs a deeper clean, you can try the foil and baking soda method. Here’s how:
- Grab a glass bowl and line it with aluminium foil, with the foil’s shiny side facing up
- Add a tbsp of baking soda and a tbsp of salt to the bowl
- Add hot water to the bowl to dissolve the baking soda and salt
- Place your jewellery into the water, and leave fully submerged for five to ten minutes
At this point, you might start to notice small black and yellow flakes coming from your jewellery and floating in the water. This is sulphur, which is the most likely cause of the tarnish on your silver.
The sulphur flakes will be attracted to the aluminium in the bowl and naturally flow towards it.
When ready, remove your jewellery from the bowl and rinse it in warm water before gently rubbing it dry with a safe, non-abrasive cloth.
Once your silver jewellery is clean, it’s important to store it correctly, as this can help delay and prevent tarnishing in the future.
Your silver jewellery should be kept in a jewellery box lined with velvet, as velvet will help absorb moisture in the air and therefore slow down the tarnishing process.
Extra-special or particularly delicate pieces of silver jewellery can also be kept in separate velvet bags or pouches to protect them even further.
Now you know how to keep your jewellery spick and span, you may want to consider protecting your valuable items with insurance.
With Ripe, specialist jewellery insurance covers valuables worth up to a total of £30,000 against theft, loss and accidental damage in the UK and worldwide. Policies can be tailored to meet your specific needs, so you’ll never pay for cover you don’t need.
All policies are also underpinned by the Ripe Guarantee, which means you won’t find the same level of cover for a better price anywhere else.