Tips for cleaning silver jewelry

Could your sterling silver jewelry use a refresh? It’s likely if it has been a while between cleanings. All sterling silver will oxidize — or tarnish — over time due to the exposure of sulfur-containing gases in the air. There are certain designs that will show up better and have a more ‘final touch’ look when the silver is oxidized in the recessed areas. But when you don’t want that look, it can be easily removed. Theresa Murphy, owner of the Joliet-based Newstar Jewelers, offers these tips to help keep your silver jewelry clean:

1. Seek the help of a professional

If the oxidation has been on the piece for a long time it may need to be professionally polished to have it removed.

2. Use a cleaner

With mild oxidation, the easiest way to clean a piece is to use a silver cleaner bath. Dipping the jewelry into the bath for a few seconds will remove the discoloration.

“Never let the jewelry sit in it for more than a few minutes tops,” Murphy said.

To get the shiny finish of silver back after a cleaning, jewelry will need to be buffed with a polishing cloth made specifically for silver jewelry. The cloth has a polishing agent built in to help bring the shine back.

Of note: gold jewelry should never be put into a silver cleaner bath.

“The chemicals used to clean the oxidation from silver can be detrimental to gold,” Murphy said. “If this happens by accident I would recommend getting it professionally polished and cleaned to restore the luster of the metal.”

3. Be wary of some at-home remedies

There are several home remedies for cleaning silver but most of them are best left to silver flatware or hollow-ware.

“Some of them require hot water which can damage stones that may be set in the silver,” Murphy said. “And never use toothpaste. It is abrasive and will scratch both silver and gold.”

Newstar Jewelers : 2417 W Jefferson Street : Joliet, IL 60435 : 815.741.8502 :

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