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Have your heart has sunk when you reached for a piece of silver jewellery to wear and discovered that it has gone black and tarnished, you’re not alone.
Tarnishing is a completely natural process that happens on the surface of silver but, luckily, it can be removed easily and economically with silver cleaning products. An inherent quality of silver is that it will, if left out in the open, lose its shine and darken (tarnish) on exposure to the environment (air).
It is quite literally a chemical process that occurs on the surface of the metal.
The chances are, if you have some tarnished silver jewellery you probably haven’t worn that particular item of jewellery for a while. Perhaps it was left out on the side or laying in your jewellery box (ie in contact with the air). Either of these situations will turn sterling silver black.
This includes jewellery items kept in a jewellery box, unless it is in a sealed bag. (We will show you how to store your jewellery later).
Tarnished silver does not mean that the piece of tarnished jewellery is not really made of silver, as many people think. You can check the hallmark (you may need a magnifying glass to find and read the hallmark), if in doubt. Sterling Silver will have a 925 mark stamped in the silver on the inside or at the end of the chain somewhere.
There is an old wives tale that cleaning jewellery with toothpaste works but we don’t advise this – toothpaste is abrasive and is likely to scratch your precious jewellery and cause damage.
In this article, we will show you just how simple and easy it can be to clean your silver jewellery, including your Pandora bracelet, without damaging it.
We have used many products and we believe these are the best products to clean silver jewellery available today – we use them every day in our jewellers.
A Gentle Word of Warning
With the correct products and knowledge, it is a straight-forward process to clean most of your jewellery yourself.
Other blog posts will cover cleaning other jewellery and gemstones – including jewellery with pearls, precious stones, diamonds, and even fashion jewellery – at home.
A word of warning though …if in doubt about the piece of jewellery that you would like to clean, DO get professional advice and don’t clean a piece of jewellery yourself if there is any doubt about the material of the item or if it is particularly precious to you.
Remember, this is a guide only and, without seeing your jewellery in person, we cannot accept any liability for any damage to your piece. These products are perfectly safe for the recommended guidelines.
Why It’s Important to Clean Our Jewellery
It is definitely not enough to expect our jewellery to stay looking good if we wear it every day, or even if we wear it infrequently, but don’t clean it.
Even if we bath and shower daily with our jewellery on, soap and other products can leave a layer on the surface of the jewellery which will dull it slightly. This is very noticeable with gem-set rings.
Added to that, body perspiration, oils and products we use form a thin layer on the jewellery and, in particular, in those hard-to-reach areas of a jewellery piece which then attracts small particles like dust and debris in the environment or on our body.
We talk much more about the Importance of Cleaning Our Jewellery, in our blog post here, where we discovered items of jewellery that people left on were tested and were found to harbour rather a lot of germs!
We are always amazed how wonderful. an item of jewellery looks after a good clean.
Give yourself an hour once a month and give your jewellery a clean, by following the steps below (remember this is for silver jewellery).
Does Tarnish Damage My Silver Jewellery?
Tarnish only occurs on the surface of the metal – it doesn’t “eat” into the silver and it doesn’t damage the silver in any way. The tarnish is easily removed with a silver jewellery cleaner.
How to Clean Our Silver Jewellery
Gather Up Your Jewellery
Gather as much of your jewellery as you can to do the whole lot in one go.
Divide The Jewellery To Clean Into Separate Groups.
- Divide your jewellery into Silver, Gold and Costume as each of these will need different cleaning approaches.
- You should then further divide the items into those with and without stones.
- You will then need to ascertain the gemstones which need very special attention and should be taken for professional cleaning and those that can be cleaned at home. Some stones are more precious than others – like Pearls, Emeralds, Opals, Marcasite, for instance.
- You should then have “groups” of jewellery, depending on the cleaning process and products they should be cleaned with.
In this blog we are talking about silver jewellery. See our blog on cleaning tarnished gold jewellery here.
Gather Cleaning Products
Work on one group of jewellery at a time, for instance, your silver jewellery without stones.
Gather together which products you will need to clean this group – see our recommended products below.
Ensure you also have a soft towel to thoroughly dry the item, a bowl of fresh water or position yourself next to a sink but ensure the plug is in place and we also always have a very soft babies toothbrush or make up brush on hand.
The Best Products To Clean Silver Jewellery
We have tried and tested many jewellery cleaning products and these, we find, are the best. We regularly use the following products each day in our jewellers and they are the best products to clean silver jewellery that we recommend to all of our customers.
An Ultrasonic Cleaner will give your jewellery a very deep clean but it won’t remove tarnish on the surface of the silver.
It cleans by agitating the dirt and breaking it up – you can literally see little bits of debris being detached from the item of jewellery when it’s in the ultrasonic machine.
The advantage of using this is that every part of the jewellery will be reached, with every nook and cranny being cleaned, such as behind the claws of rings.
Because of this, it is particularly good for rings, pendants, earrings and chains – in fact anything that is intricate.
Ultrasonic machines are equally good for your glasses as well as your jewellery and many people refer to them as a wonder-device as they are said clean so well with no damage.
But you do need to take care with these machines.
As they clean by agitating dirt, if you have any loose stones in your jewellery the ultrasonic machine can dislodge the stone and make it fall out.
Therefore we advise you to check your jewellery thoroughly before putting your jewellery into one of these machines.
Never use the ultrasonic machine with marcasite jewellery – indeed you should never get marcasite jewellery wet.
Until recently you could only get your jewellery cleaned in this way professionally by taking it to a jeweller with an ultrasonic machine. But in 2018 a home-use ultrasonic device became available. Now sold on Amazon, these machines are highly rated.
Now you can give your jewellery a deep, deep clean in less than 15 minutes in the comfort of your own home.
Silver Jewellery Cleaner (Dip)
Silver Jewellery Cleaner is a pot of cleaning fluid with a Dip Tray inside which can be lifted out of the liquid. It also has a small brush included to give difficult to reach areas an extra clean.
Silver jewellery cleaning dip is particularly good at getting into crevices and for removing silver tarnish.
But, unlike the Ultrasonic bath, this cleaner will only work on the tarnish, it won’t dislodge debris and dirt.
Perfect for silver chains and silver items with no precious stones, enamel or gems added.
Do Not Use The Silver Jewellery Cleaner With:
Items with precious gemstones, enamel or stones which have been glued in, this includes any marcasite jewellery, as the dip may dissolve the glue and the stones may come out. (See table below).
This jewellery cleaner should not be used on porous stones, such as amber or turquoise. (See table below).
Please DO NOT use the Silver Jewellery Cleaner on any oxidised silver or Pandora beads or bracelets. This includes Trollbeads bracelets and beads. (Use Precious Jewellery Cleaner, instead).
The solution has a strong odour, but this is the tarnish removing chemical and is no cause for alarm.
Directions for Use:
-Place the piece of sterling silver jewelry into the dip tray inside the tub and lower the tray with the items being cleaned into the solution for 10-15 seconds only. There is no need to extend this exposure time.
-Remove the dip tray with the jewelry in from the pot and hold under running water at room temperature or swill in plenty of fresh plain water
-We sometimes use a soft make-up brush or babies toothbrush (think soft!) to move the liquid into any crevices in the item of jewelry, if needed.
-Dry the jewelry item with a soft cloth. We can’t emphasise how its important to dry the item thoroughly – even a little dampness will encourage tarnish
-Buff and Polish with a Silver Polishing Cloth.
Delicate Jewellery Cleaner
The Delicate Jewellery Cleaner is perfect to clean:
- Pandora bracelets, beads and jewellery;
- Trollbeads bracelets, beads and jewellery;
- Thomas Sabo; Watches – with steel, yellow or rose gold and ceramic straps.
This cleaner will clean silver in a gentler way but it will not remove tarnish. It is good for those items that are oxidised.
To remove tarnish from oxidised silver, use one of the jewellery cloths below.
Directions for use:
-Place one piece of jewelry into the dip basket and lower into the cleaning fluid.
-Leave submerged for up to one minute (longer is not necessary).
-Remove the dip tray with jewelry and rinse the items thoroughly in room temperature water.
-A cleaning brush is provided to get to the difficult-to-reach places.
-Dry the jewelry with a soft cloth.
-Polish with one of the Jewelry Polishing Cloths.
The Jewellery Polishing Cloths
The Ultrasoft Jewellery Polishing Cloth is wonderful for all silver including oxidised silver like Pandora jewellery, Trollbeads, Thomas Sabo, and other charm beads. It will remove tarnish and polish and buff silver pieces.
It can on its own or also be used after dipping jewellery, since the piece has been dried.
We use these every day in our jewellers.
It is also useful for Watch Straps, Silver Plated jewellery, Silver jewellery with semi-precious stones, Antiqued Sterling Silver and fashion brands.
It’s a great item to have at home and very easy to use with a noticeable difference after a quick polish.
The Ultra-Soft Silver Jewellery Polishing Cloth is made of thick, natural and gentle cotton. With two layers – one cleans the jewellery and one buffs. It also applies an invisible barrier to delay new tarnish from forming.
Directions for use:
– You should use the light violet cloth to gently rub the tarnish from the silver jewelry.
-Do not be alarmed at the black marks that appear on the cloth, it is only due to the chemically treated micro-fine polishers being activated with the tarnish appearing on the cloth.
-After a thorough cleaning, the darker outer cloth should buff the item.
-The cloth can be reused repeatedly and should not be washed or laundered. Even after extensive use, it can still work effectively. Only replace and repurchase a new cloth when you notice that your jewelry is no longer being cleaned or shined by the cloth.
And Last But Not Least ……Jewellery Wipes
This is another product that we use every day in our jewellers. Jewelry Cleaning Wipes are probably our most go-to jewellery cleaning product.
As well as silver and silver-plated items, including oxidised silver, these products can be used on gold/gold-plate, rhodium-plated jewellery, gemstones, costume and fashion jewellery and even watches.
The Jewellery Wipes are perfect for cleaning Pandora bracelets, beads and jewellery. Also Trollbeads bracelets, beads and jewellery and Thomas Sabo jewellery and charms.
The wipes are also perfect for steel, yellow or rose gold and ceramic watch straps.
They contain an anti-tarnish shield to help your jewellery keep its lustre and shine.
Dry and are disposable they can be reused many times – use them until you feel they are not bringing the cleaning or shine they previously used to with your jewellery. We find this is almost until they eventually disintegrate.
Directions for Use:
-Use one cloth, dry, from the plastic case
-Gently rub the jewelry item with the wipe – it will instantly shine your jewelry and remove tarnish. (NB: It is normal that your fingers and even your jewelry will have a residue of black after use – this is NOT dirt).
-You can rinse the jewelry under tepid water to remove any residue and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth – although this step is not essential unless needed.
How to Clean Your Pandora Bracelet
Any modern charm bracelet such as Pandora, Trollbeads, Chamilia will need cleaning regularly.
In order to do so, you should remove all the charms from your bracelet. Between the charms and, in particular, within core can be a perfect place for debris to collect and, particularly with the importance of stringent cleaning due to the Covid-19 outbreak, these hiding places need to be thoroughly cleaned.
For Pandora bracelets and charms excluding any enamel or oxidised pieces, we recommend using either warm water and a mild detergent, such as washing up liquid, with a soft baby toothbrush or using the Delicate Jewellery Cleaner rinse each charm and dry on a soft cloth.
You can use the Jewellery Cleaning Wipes on oxidised pieces and charms with enamel in.
We always finish with the Ultra-Soft Polishing Cloth.
How to Clean Oxidised Silver
Oxidised silver is 925 sterling silver which has had an extra step added to the manufacturing process to give it a slightly blackened finish, or patina, giving it a slightly antiqued look. It has been increasingly used in modern jewellery – much of Trollbeads jewellery is oxidised.
What you don’t want to do with oxidised jewellery is to dip it in Silver Jewellery Cleaner – this may strip the oxidation from the surface of the item.
The best way to clean oxidised silver is with warm water and detergent (again, don’t use this with glued stones or pearls, marcasite or enamels) and a soft babies toothbrush. Dry thoroughly and buff with an Ultrasoft Jewellery Cloth. We also regularly clean oxidised jewellery with Jewellery Wipes – these are great to use between washing.
A good alternative to detergent and water is Precious Jewellery Cleaner – it also has the advantage of being able to be used to clean your gold jewellery.
How to Store Silver Jewellery
We advise you to store your silver jewellery in little grip-seal plastic bags – this prevents the air getting to the items and it oxidizing. We keep all our silver items that aren’t on display in this way.
Another good idea is to pop an anti-tarnish strip in the bag with your stored jewellery item. These do need replacing infrequently, but they are relatively cheap.
To Sum Up …
We hope this has given you some idea of the very best products to use to clean all types of your silver jewellery.
We’d encourage you to clean your jewellery regularly – you won’t regret it.
If you have any questions, we are here to help so please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.