Are you cleaning and organising as you enter the new year? We’re in a very wet January here in Singapore, which doesn’t generally bode well for sterling silver jewellery. The humidity in the air reacts with the copper part of the sterling silver alloy resulting in the tarnish that you see on you sterling silver pieces. So here’s a tip for cleaning your jewellery too this January, and through the year whenever necessary.
I met a friend a few weeks ago who was wearing a heavily tarnished Salalo Amot ring made of sterling silver. I knew we had to rectify that! My first recommendation is always a silver polishing cloth simply because it’s quick and easy, but this particular ring had a lot of grooves which would have been impossible to reach, so I recommended she put her ring in boiling water with aluminium and baking soda. It sounds crazy, but it works. The chemical reaction transfers the tarnish off your silver and on to the aluminium foil.
The Quick Trick: Clean Sterling Silver with Pantry Items
1. Select your jewellery
I’m demonstrating this with a heavily tarnished chain that I’ve had lying unworn on my dressing table for over a year, a heavily tarnished pair of earrings that haven't seen much wear recently, and a pair of rings which have a bit of tarnish building up in tiny grooves that would be hard to reach with a polishing cloth.
See the bits of tarnish developing below and between the small balls? That's very difficult to reach with a polishing cloth.
2. Line a glass or ceramic dish with aluminium foil (don't use a metal dish as this may interfere with the chemical reaction)
3. Place your sterling silver jewellery on the aluminium foil
4. Sprinkle liberally with baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)
5. Cover the jewellery with boiling water and leave it for 10 minutes
Watch the bubbles... Or use the rest of the boiling water to make yourself a cup of tea while you wait for science to do it's thing.
6. Rinse the jewellery in clean warm water
See how murky the water in the foil bath has become?
7. Admire your bright, clean jewellery!
8. Not quite satisfied? Repeat the process
Heavily tarnished pieces may require more than one go in the aluminium-lined bath. My chain, for example, could certainly use another dip or two in the bath. Just make sure to use a new sheet of aluminium each time you repeat.
This is a really great trick for removing a lot of tarnish in one go, especially for pieces that have grooves and crevices. Try it on sterling silver and silver-plated jewellery, and even on silver decoration items. I would avoid using it on pieces with gemstones, as some stones are too porous to be soaked this way.
Enjoy your good-as-new pieces as you go into the new year!