How To Clean Silver Jewellery At Home

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Silver jewellery comes in many forms and it is important to view an item as a whole and consider any potential areas of weakness before starting any cleaning.

The most simple form of cleaning is often the most effective. I would recommend regular gentle cleaning over abrasive cleaning every time.

Tarnishing & The Gentle Method

There are a few reasons why your silver jewellery is no longer looking its best. The first is tarnishing. This is a natural reaction that takes place between the element silver and oxygen, the black colouring is the result of the chemical reaction of oxidisation. Oxidisation occurs on the surface of the metal and can over time completely change the appearance of your jewellery. For the most part it is a reversible process.

When considering cleaning your jewellery you should always try the least abrasive method first. We normally start by using a silver cleaner infused cleaning cloth, these are readily available from hardware stores. Use the cloths to gently cleanse the surface of the silver, the results are normally evident straight away. Dependent on the design of the jewellery you may find that you can produce excellent results with only this technique.

The Soaking Wet Method

Another simple method, which can be beneficial before polishing is to soak the jewellery in warm water and a little detergent, this will remove much of the dirt and grease that have accumulated on your silver jewellery. But be careful! If you have an item set with stones such as opal or emerald it is not advisable to soak them in this way. This is because porous stones or those with a tendency to fracture will be damaged by immersion in water.

Cautious Silver Dipping

The final method of cleaning using silver dip is the most risky. Silver dip contains abrasive chemicals that can cause irreparable damage to some jewellery, use it with caution. Most jewellery that is made only from silver is suitable for silver dipping, the exceptions are when it is rhodium plated or if it is of a style such as a snake chain. Rhodium when dipped in silver dip will turn black and look awful. Do not do it!

Rhodium is a plating used on some silver jewellery to give it a high shine finish. Many brands, such as Hot Diamonds, use rhodium plating to finish their jewellery. There are no hallmarking requirements for rhodium plating so either contact the manufacturer or your jeweller to check if you are unsure. The design of some items, including snake chains, make them bad candidates for silver dipping as it is very difficult to ensure that the dip is cleaned off properly resulting in damage to the jewellery and often discolouration.

How To Silver Dip

If you are sure that you have an item that is suitable then the best thing to do is firstly soak it as per the method above. Dry it and then dip it into the solution. It is best to only leave it in there for a matter of seconds. (Expect nasty sulphurous fumes – this is the reaction of the solution with the oxidisation.) Extract it from the solution and if necessary clean gently with a soft toothbrush, working the solution into the corners. If you need to you can re-dip and repeat the process. If it is clean then wash your jewellery in fresh water making sure that you have removed every trace of silver dip. Dry the item and then finish the cleaning with a silver polishing cloth.

The Alternative!

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