How to clean sterling silver jewellery?
Building up a collection of sterling silver jewellery takes time. You put a lot of effort and care into selecting each piece. You may even have pieces in your collection that you want to keep to pass on to your children. Sterling silver is a durable metal and will last a lifetime if it is looked after correctly.
Sterling silver isn’t actually pure silver, it does contain up to 10% of other metals like copper. The reason that the other metals are combined with the silver is because pure silver is actually very soft, the addition of copper, nickel or zinc make it easier to work with. Sterling silver is not only used to make jewellery, it is also used in to make cutlery, hair clips and other accessories.
While sterling silver will last well, it does need to be looked after correctly otherwise your pieces will tarnish and discolor, leaving them looking dull. Cleaning your sterling silver jewellery can be done at home or for your more expensive piece it is better to have them cleaned by a professional who will take care not to damage the settings.
There are a few ways you can clean your sterling silver jewellery at home, some are more effective than others. The most effective method is the “Electrolyte Method” and this is an easy method what makes use of common items you probably have in your kitchen.
This method makes use of a mixture of baking soda, salt, water, and aluminum foil to clean your silver jewellery. If your jewellery has pearls, turquoise or is an antique piece then we do not recommend using this method.
To clean your jewellery using the Electrolyte Method you will need to follow these steps.
1. Line a dish with aluminum foil with the shiny side facing up. Once the dish is completely covered with foil, place the sterling silver jewellery into the dish. Do not add to many pieces of jewellery. The pieces should not be on top of one another but spaced out and that each piece is touching the foil, this is important.
2. Add in 2 tablespoons of salt and 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 cups of boiling water. You can add in 2 tablespoons of liquid dish soap if you want to, but it is not essential. Once you have added all of the ingredients, stir until the salt and baking soda have dissolved.
3. Leave the jewellery in the dish for at least 10 minutes. You might notice it starts to smell; this is normal. You can gently rub the jewellery using your finger, this will help to speed up the cleaning process a little.
4. Once the 10 minutes is up, remove the pieces of jewellery and rinse them under warm water. After you have rinsed them thoroughly, use a soft cloth to buff each piece gently. It is important to find a soft cloth to use, if you use an abrasive cloth, it will scratch the jewellery. Do not buff the jewellery in a circular motion, rather buff in the direction of the grain of the silver. If you can not figure out the grain direction, just buff in the same direction.
For your pieces of jewellery that you cannot clean using the above method, clean them using soap and water following these simple steps.
1. Combine 1 tablespoon of ammonia-free dishwashing soap with one cup of warm water. Mix well.
2. Use a soft cloth to dip into the soapy water, wring out any excess water. Use the cloth to clean the pieces of sterling silver until they are clean. Rinse the cloth completely or use a new cloth to make sure all soap residue is removed.
3. Once this has been done, use a dry cloth to buff each piece.
Prevention is always better than cure and there are some things you can do to prevent your pieces of sterling silver jewellery from tarnishing.
- Keep your silver away from products that contain Sulphur, and this will cause the silver to tarnish. These include things like;
- Rubber and latex
- Lotions and beauty products
Remove your jewellery when you go swimming or when you are using harsh chemicals to clean with. Sunlight does affect your jewellery and can speed up the tarnishing process, so it is better to remove your jewellery if you are spending a lot of time in the sun.
Store it in a dry, dark place. Moisture can cause silver to tarnish so when you store it make sure that the moisture is removed. You can do this by placing chalk or silica in the bag with the silver jewellery as this will remove any moisture in the air.
Store each piece individually. This will prevent the pieces from rubbing against one another and scratching and it will prevent the other metals from oxidizing.
How to clean gold plated jewellery?
Jewellery gets dirty, it is inevitable that your favorite gold plated jewellery will get dirty and start to lose some of its shine. Your jewellery is exposed to your lotions and picks up dirt and grime from your everyday life. It is important that you regularly clean your gold-plated jewellery to ensure it maintains its luster and shine. You don’t need any special cleaners or equipment to be able to clean you gold-plated jewellery, it is pretty easy to do.
Gold plated jewellery is the most affordable type of gold jewellery. It is made from a very thin layer of gold that adherers to a base metal, like silver or copper. The layer is pretty thin which means the pieces of gold-plated jewellery don’t last too long but with proper cleaning and care you will be able to wear your gold-plated jewellery for a long time.
Follow these steps to keep your gold-plated jewellery shining.
1. Wipe the jewellery each time you wear it. When you are getting ready to go out, you apply lotions, makeup, oils, and other products that help to make you look and feel amazing. These products all affect your gold-plated jewellery. It is a good idea to apply all your makeup and fragrances, then wait a few minutes before putting your jewellery on. When you get home at the end of the day, remove all your gold plated jewellery and wipe them down, do not rub the jewellery, just gentle wipe each piece. Before you wipe down the jewellery, wash your hands and make sure they are clean and free from lotions or other products. You can use a cotton ball or a soft, lint free cloth. A microfiber cloth that you use to clean glasses, is the perfect cloth to use. Do not use a hard, abrasive cloth as this will scratch the jewellery.
2. Try a jewellery cloth. Investing in a jewellery cloth is a good idea. When you notice your gold-plated jewellery starting to look a little dull, give it a rub with the jewellery cloth and it will be shining in seconds.
3. Store your gold plated jewellery properly. When you store jewellery it is always advisable to store pieces made from the same metal together. If you mix up your gold-plated jewellery with your silver jewellery it can result in the jewellery tarnishing easier. It is also a good idea to store jewellery individually by wrapping them in pieces of cloth and storing them in individual little bags. Jewellery boxes with dividers in also make this storage process easier.
4. Do not swim with your gold-plated jewellery as the chlorine in the water will cause the pieces to tarnish and discolor. If you are preparing food that is acidic, remove your gold-plated jewellery until you are done.
5. Remove your gold-plated jewellery before exercising. Sweat can cause gold-plated jewellery to tarnish easily. Before you go for a run or start your gym class, remove all your gold-plated jewellery and store it safely while you are doing your work out. Do not put the jewellery back on until you have had a shower to wash all the sweat off.
6. Avoid keeping your gold-plated jewellery tossed in your handbag. This will result in them scratching and the gold plating will wear off quicker. If you do want to keep a few pieces in your handbag, wrap them in a soft cloth and keep them sealed in a small bag.
For a more thorough clean, use soap and water.
You should be cleaning your gold-plated jewellery every couple of weeks using this method. If you do clean your jewellery regularly it will help to maintain its shine and will extend the lifespan of your gold-plated jewellery.
To clean your gold plated jewellery in this way follow these steps.
1. Wipe down each piece to remove oils and dirt.
2. Simply mix some warm water with a gentle soap. Use two or three drops of dishwashing liquid in a cup of warm water and mix gentle. Do not use a harsh jewellery cleaner or an antibacterial soap, these are too harsh for your gold plated jewellery and could end up damaging them.
3. Place your jewellery into the solution and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Do not place too many pieces into the solution, you do not want the pieces to rub against one another.
4. Remove it from the solution and use a soft brush or cloth to gentle remove any embedded dirt. Do not use sharp to remove any dirt or grim as this will damage the jewellery.
5. Once you have removed the dirt, rinse the gold-plated jewellery, removing all the soap. Use a soft, dry cloth to dry and buff each piece of jewellery.