How to Clean Silver Jewelry

March 11th, 2022

You may notice your silver jewelry tarnishing more quickly than other pieces. This is because silver reacts with numerous chemicals in the environment, causing oxidation and forming a tarnish. Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that makes your silver jewelry appear a dull gray or black color.

Silver plated and sterling silver jewelry like necklaces, bracelets, and rings can tarnish after being in contact with your natural body oil and sweat. Chemicals in beauty products like lotions and perfumes may also react with your jewelry causing them to tarnish. Luckily, fine jewelry is easy to clean at home using products you already have available. Let’s dive into the details!

How to Clean Silver Jewelry

Silver jewelry is very quick to tarnish just with exposure to air the metal will begin to oxidize. Silver can be cleaned using a couple of methods depending on desired outcome.

To clean Sterling silver and silver plated jewelry:

Here are the steps:

  • Mix a few drops of a gentle soap like dishwashing liquid or add baby shampoo into warm water. The container you use should be big enough to fit the pieces you want to clean.
  • Let your jewelry soak in the soapy water for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Use a soft cloth or soft-bristled brush, like a baby toothbrush, to clean your piece of jewelry.
  • Rinse off your jewelry in a separate container of warm water.
  • Dry your jewelry with a soft cloth, like a microfiber towel. Avoid using paper towels, which can scratch your silver jewelry. You can even use a silver polishing cloth designed to make your silver

High Polish Silver

To clean your High Polish Silver pieces:

Here are the supplies:

  • Treated polishing cloth 
  • Warm water 
  • Dish soap
  • Silver cleaner 
    • Rub jewelry with treated cloth until tarnish areas are clean, this may take persistence. Once the cloth has taken care of the darkened spots you can clean the piece with a combination of hot water and dish soap. 
    • You can also clean silver that has been polished with a cloth with a combination of warm water, baking soda, and a splash of vinegar.

Antiqued Silver 

This is silver that is blackened intentionally to give it a vintage look. To clean your antiqued silver pieces:

Here are the supplies:

  • Warm water 
  • Dish soap
  • Silver cleaner
    • You can gently go over these pieces with a polishing cloth but pressing to hard can remove the antiqued look. It is best to clean these pieces with warm water and dish soap. 
    • Do not use Silver cleaner from the jar on these pieces, as this will remove the intended vintage tarnish. 
Silver jewelry soaking in cleaning solution

What to Avoid When Cleaning

Never clean your silver jewelry with abrasive cleaners or brushes. Some abrasive products can scratch or damage your jewelry since silver is a soft metal. You’ll want to avoid baking soda, dishwasher and laundry detergents, and acidic products like tomato sauce.

Consider taking your pieces to a jeweler, or you can search and take your pieces to more professional settings, if your jewelry needs a more thorough cleaning than a soft-bristled brush, and gentle soap can provide. A jewelry store will have more tools, like an ultrasonic cleaner and jewelry cleaning solvent, to professionally clean your silver jewelry safely.

A collection of cleaned silver jewelry

How To Protect Your Silver Jewelry

All silver jewelry loses its shine, but you can reduce how quickly it tarnishes. Storing your pieces away from chemicals and moisture when you’re not wearing them helps slow tarnishing. You can also buy rhodium plated silver jewelry. Rhodium plating protects the sterling silver underneath from oxidation.

You should also consider protecting your fine jewelry by getting it insured. Jewelry insurance protects your pieces against damage, theft, and loss. BriteCo offers a fast, easy and affordable way to get jewelry insurance. Use our online quote tool to get a custom quote in 60 seconds and get the coverage you need to protect your fine silver jewelry.

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About the Author

Rachel Akmakjian is Director of Jeweler Relations for BriteCo. She has more than eight years’ experience in jewelry marketing, retail, diamond wholesale, and managing her own company that specializes in creating custom jewelry pieces. Rachel is currently a student at the Gemological Institute of America, on track to receive her Graduate Gemology certificate by the end of this year. Her education and experiences have given her an in-depth understanding of the demands and expectations facing jewelers and customers in today’s evolving retail marketplace.
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