I received a lot of emails after I posted my tutorial on how to polish silver last February, but the most frequently asked question was whether you could use the same technique to clean jewelry. The short answer is yes. The long answer is another tutorial, with a few changes, specifically for silver jewlery.
Posting this has been in the back of my mind for months, but it wasn’t until I found a small pile of silver jewelry (Mexico, 90s) while cleaning out a drawer in my dresser that I found the inspiration to work on it. Oh, who am I kidding? I really wanted to wear one of the necklaces last week and knew it needed polishing first. A post on silver while I am vacationing in the silver state is nothing more than a happy accident.
The procedure is similar to polishing large pieces, like vases and bowls. In a glass jar or container, add 1TB of table salt and 1TB of baking soda. Then fill the container to the middle mark with small pieces of aluminum foil. This was, by far, the most aggravating part. I used cheap scissors to cut strips of foil into 1 inch pieces, which was like dragging my nails across a chalk board repeatedly. It wasn’t until I was done that I thought to use a pizza cutter. Next time, trust me. I imagine the process would be infinitely faster and less goosebump inducing.
After that, fill the container with warm tap water and drop in your jewelry.
A word of caution. The jewelry will soak for a while, so this isn’t the sort of thing you want to do if your pieces are glued, painted, or similarly delicate. I decided to soak my lapiz lazuli necklace because it sits in a pronged setting. Were it glued, I’d be out of luck and doing something more labor intensive.
Once you are sure everything is safe to soak, drop it in and wait anywhere from 20-60 minutes. I waited 20 minutes (I needed the necklace for something right away) before I pulled everything out and rubbed off the tarnish with an old burp rag.
The results weren’t perfect, but they look pretty darn good if you consider the intricate designs and 10 years of tarnish that coated everything. If it was really, really, really important for the jewelry to look perfect, I would have soaked it longer and I wouldn’t have put in so many items.
But my goal wasn’t perfection, so I was happy. :)