Silver Jewelry takes a little more care than gold and platinum since it tends to tarnish, or oxidize and because it wears faster. Learn some tips for taking care of silver jewelry.
Before choosing a cleaning method it’s important to consider the piece of jewelry you are cleaning. Stones, metal color treatments, and surface treatment can have an impact on the best way to clean each piece.
A good place to start with most jewelry is to soak it in warm (not hot) water with a mild detergent, and then to gently brush it with an extra soft toothbrush to remove any dirt on the surface or that is stuck in tiny crevices. Be very gentle so you don’t scratch the metal or your stone, and be especially aware of delicate prongs and any points or corners your stone may have.
Drain Precautions- Always make sure your jewelry is protected from falling down an open drain. Using a drain cover, or covering the opening with a colander can help you to avoid losing your precious items.
Jewelry With Stones
Different gemstones have different physical properties, and will react differently to chemicals, solvents, and abrasives. Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, tourmalines, and aquamarines will be fine in most jewelry cleaners. Softer stones like opals, turquoise, pearls and amber are more fragile and can be damaged when exposed to chemicals, solvents, and harsh soaps. In general, how a stone reacts to a cleaning method has to do with the hardness of the gemstone. Take a moment to look up your gemstone on the Mohs Hardness Scale on any search engine. If it is a 7 or above, you will be fine using a silver cleaner. If the stone is 6 or under, there are other ways to clean your jewelry that are still very effective. If you are unsure of the type of stone, it is always best to err on the side of caution.
Polishing Clothes are a safe and easy way to give your silver jewelry a quick shine and polish. They are safe on stones and patinas, and can be used anywhere. Some can leave a residue behind, so rinse the piece with water and a mild detergent after using, then wipe with a soft cloth to avoid water stains.
Liquid Silver Cleaners
If it is silver jewelry that does not have a patina, and the stone has a hardness of 7 or above, the easiest way to clean it is to “dip” it in a silver cleaner. Clear liquid silver cleaners remove the tarnish quickly, and easily get into those small spaces that are hard to reach with a polishing cloth. Simply rinse it in warm (not hot) water, and gently brush it with an extra soft toothbrush to remove any dirt on the surface or that is stuck in tiny crevices. Be very gentle so you don’t scratch the metal or your stone, and be especially aware of delicate prongs and any points or corners your stone may have. Then place your jewelry into the solution, swirl it around a little (careful not to splash your skin or eyes) then remove your jewelry. Wash it thoroughly to remove any remaining cleaner, and dry with a soft cloth to avoid water spots.
Something to consider about liquid silver cleaners- They are made with strong chemicals, so it’s important to read the safety precautions, and to wash your hands and the metal thoroughly after using them to ensure all of those chemicals are cleaned off. Using tongs or tying a string around the jewelry (to use like a fishing line) can help you lower the piece into the solution without getting it on your skin.
Natural Cleaning Options
There are many ways to clean your jewelry with household solutions. Some are safe with stones, others are not.
Toothpaste- Although most toothpastes will work well to clean silver, the most effective is children's gel fluoride toothpaste. The gel is smoother with less abrasive materials (such as baking soda) so it will not scratch your metal if you apply it gently. Simply take a bit of toothpaste on your finger, a soft cloth, or an extra soft toothbrush, and gently rub the toothpaste onto your silver. This method is safe to use on your silver jewelry and stones above 3 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. It can be difficult to rinse the toothpaste off, so be patient and rinse thoroughly with warm (not hot) water. Dry with a soft cloth.
Vinegar and Salt- This method should not be used with stones or patinas. Dissolve 1 teaspoon of salt in ½ cup of warm vinegar. Let cool to room temperature, and dip your jewelry into the vinegar and salt solution. It can be used as a dip or with a cloth or extra soft toothbrush. Rinse thoroughly and dry with a soft cloth.