Our Top 5 Ways to Clean Your Silver Jewellery

Posted by Clare Izaguirre on

We are proud to say that our sterling silver jewellery is handcrafted into unique designs by our skilled artisans who are expert silversmiths. Each piece comes with a 925 stamp (learn more about stamps and sterling silver here) and presents the stunning lustre you can expect from quality solid silver. Over time, however, even the best quality silver loses its shine. It begins to discolour and dullen in a chemical process known as ‘tarnishing’.

While it’s an inevitable fact of owning silver jewellery, tarnishing doesn’t mean your favourite silver pieces need to be banished to the drawer. In fact, you can keep your silver jewellery as gorgeous as the day you bought it by following our simple tips on how to clean, store and maintain your jewellery, for a lifetime of wear. 

Read on to find out how...

To understand how to treat your tarnished silver jewellery it’s useful to first understand what tarnishing is and why it happens. First off, tarnishing is a natural process of corrosion that happens to silver when it comes into contact with sulphur, which might be from oils on our skin, sweat, gases in the air or compounds found in other materials.

Precious metal specialists at the historic Sheffield Assay Office explain that sterling silver’s base metal of copper ‘reacts with sulphur-containing gases in the air to form a layer of the compound copper sulphide (Cu2S).’ otherwise known as tarnish. Though not entirely preventable, tarnishing is an easily treatable and reversible process.

So whether you want to get ahead of the tarnishing game or have some sterling silver jewellery in dire need of TLC, here are Aquila’s top 5 ways to clean your silver jewellery:

1. A Salt Bath for your Silver

An old classic for many who clean all their silverware this way. 

  1. Combine warm water and a few teaspoons of salt in a bowl.
  2. Place your jewellery in the bowl for 5 minutes. 
  3. Take it out and give it a quick polish with a polishing cloth which should gleam some wonderful results!

2.The Foil That Never Fails

This is a common method used to get rid of tarnish because it requires easily found household items you probably already have lying around. What will you need? A bowl big enough to fit your silver, aluminium foil, hot water, kitchen tongs, either one tablespoon of baking soda or detergent (without bleach) and a clean, dry cloth to place the silver on after you finish.

Be aware that this method shouldn’t be used with oxidised silver but works perfectly well with anything shiny like the Agonda range. 

  1. Fill your bowl with boiled water.
  2. With the shiny side facing up, line the aluminium foil in the bowl (watch your fingers!).
  3. The ratio for every 1 cup of water is 1 tablespoon of baking soda or detergent. For us, it was 3 cups of water and 3 tablespoons of baking powder. Expect bubbles to form!
  4. Place your silver into the bowl, making sure it has contact with the foil.
  5. Step away for 5 minutes, though you can leave it for 10 if the tarnish is thicker. Mid way through, turn the silver over.
  6. Use the kitchen tongs to pick up the jewellery and run it under cool water. 
  7. Put it on the dry cloth and give it a quick shine.
  8. Step back and admire your handiwork!

3. Get Zesty Results with Salt, Lemon & Water

Warning- not an approach for oxidised jewellery as the acid in the lemon will strip the oxidation from the metal. 

  1. Take a bowl and fill it with hot water. 
  2. Add 3 tablespoons of salt and squeeze a whole lemon in. 
  3. Place your silver jewellery into the bowl and wait 10 minutes. Some people actually wait overnight depending on the severity of the tarnish.
  4. Once the time is up, take out the jewellery and rub it with a white silver cleaning cloth. You’ll be amazed at the difference!

4. Keep it Simple with Silver Polish

It goes without saying that using ammonia-free or bleach-free silver polish will get you the shiny tarnish-free results that you want without doing any DIY dabbling. 

Couple the polish with a microfibre cloth or a nonabrasive polishing cloth and you have a match made in silver heaven!

Simply rub the polish onto your jewellery using the cloth in a circular motion until the tarnish is removed. Be prepared to break a little sweat however as the rubbing and buffing could take some time with more intricate pieces.

5. Sparkle Like New with Washing Up Liquid

This is a much-loved method also recommended by Elle Magazine in the article How To Clean A Silver Chain And Jewellery Like A Pro by Katie O’Malley. All you need is a bowl, washing up liquid and warm water. 

  1. Mix the liquid up until bubbles appear.
  2. Add the jewellery then let it soak for up to 10 minutes. 
  3. Take the jewellery out, rinse it, then leave it to dry. 
  4. Finish by cleaning with a microfibre cloth. 
  5. Be impressed!

Quick Storage Tips

Looking after your precious silver jewellery isn’t just about cleaning it, storing it properly can also help keep it looking fabulous. Get yourself some cloth pouches to store your individual pieces in or organise them in a jewellery box with individual compartments. Here they can be protected from tarnishing at a faster rate due to the restricted airflow and are safe from being scratched if jumbled in with other jewellery. Storing your jewellery in this way will also help you feel more organised and stop you from losing it!

Check the humidity in your room and possibly invest in a dehumidifier as higher humidity means faster tarnish rates.


How To Look After Your Silver Jewellery

Here are few tips from Aquila Jewellery on looking after your jewellery to protect it from everyday wear and tear:

  1. Take off your silver jewellery if you’re heading to the gym or planning on working up a sweat in any activity. According to Masamitsu Inaba from the Victoria & Albert Museum, London in Tarnishing of Silver: A Short Review perspiration contains amino acids and sulphur that results in a reaction with sterling silver jewellery and may result in a lovely stain on your body and on the piece itself. Your skin itself may cause a reaction to your jewellery due to its alkaline levels. If in doubt, remove!
  2. Pop off your silver jewellery if taking a shower, bath or getting in a hot tub or sauna for the same reasons regarding perspiration and skin reactions above.
  3. Going swimming? Take off your jewellery. Chlorine is an element that reacts with sterling silver and causes discolouration.
  4. Blitzing the house with a spring clean? Take off your jewellery. It’s always worth removing your silver jewellery before you handle any household cleaning products as things like bleach and ammonia can damage your sterling silver pieces.
  5. Spraying on perfume or rubbing in lotion? Remove your jewellery. Lotions, hair sprays and deodorants can all make tarnishing set in faster

We hope we’ve helped you feel on top of how to look after your sterling silver jewellery collection. For even more tips and advice on all things silver, check out our Boho Journal where we regularly post about all the jewellery hot topics. 

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