Jewelry cleaning is not complicated and you can easily do it at home. As jewelry is worn and exposed to the elements it will tarnish. Tarnish is when the surface layer of the jewelry oxidizes and creates a small layer of discoloration causing the piece to look old or dull. It is quite literally rusting. In the case of silver you get a dull yellowing and darkening of the jewelry and it loses its lustrous shine and vibrancy. To restore your jewelry to its original beauty this small layer of tarnish needs to be scrubbed away, chemically reduced(the opposite of oxidized), or both.
Here is before and after of four different ways to clean your jewelry. Keep reading to learn all various ways to bring your jewelry back to life.
First, clean your jewelry in a solution of warm water and a couple drops of dish soap. Use a small non abrasive bristle brush such as a soft toothbrush to clean away dirt and the bulk of any tarnish. This alone is often enough to bring your piece back to its original luster. However, for those difficult and more heavily tarnished pieces try adding a tablespoon of lemon juice (I did try lemon essential oil which had no effect, so stick to lemon juice) to your soapy cleaning solution and letting the piece soak for half an hour, scrub with brush, sit for an addition half an hour then scrub and rinse. Lemon juice acts as a reducing agent, as it is slightly acidic. This slightly acidic solution will react with the oxidized tarnish on the jewelry. A minor word of warning: some softer stones and less silicated minerals may not take nicely to an acidic solution. Harder stones such as Diamonds, corundums(sapphires, emeralds), garnets and quartz won’t mind.
You may also want to add a bit of baking soda which will act as a mild abrasive and will gently scrub away any difficult spots. Be gentle and don’t get carried away as mild abrasives are literally taking away small miniscule amounts of material.
Another simple and effective option, that I quite like, is to use a silver polishing cloth such as Sunshine Polishing Cloth.
These cloths already contain the needed reducing agents and mild abrasives that will gently remove tarnish. And the great part is, one cloth will last for a very long time.
If you have extremely difficult pieces with heavy tarnish, a piece with a softer stone in the setting, or if you regularly clean your jewelry and have a lot like I do, then, you may want to try a commercialized cleaner such as Blitz Silver Shine which is formulated to be safe over a wide range of different metal and stone types. And a product that I have found to be particularly effective over the years.
After trying all four cleaning remedies here is the run down:
The warm water and soap was the least effective. I did use copper pieces to clean, which is a much more difficult material to restore. I noticed small amounts of dirt coming off nicely. If you are looking for a quick and light clean I recommend it. Before and after-
After being unsatisfied that the warm water and soap only cleaning the dirt away I decided to clean it with the Sunshine Cloth which shined it up looking brand new. Here is a side by side, one shined with the cloth and the other untouched.
Sunshine Polishing Cloth was my favorite because of how quick, easy and effective it was. Before and after-