Sunday, September 23, 2012

How to Polish Silver Plated Jewelry

It's a sad fact of life. Jewelry tarnishes over time. Sigh.

Silver will tarnish quicker than most metals. Silver is mixed with copper during the smithing process and copper oxidizes over time when it's exposed to air, leaving your jewelry looking dull, brassy and tarnished.

See my sad Christmas acorn? He's been hanging around since last Christmas season. The chain has turned brassy and tarnish is appearing between the links.

So what's a girl to do?!

Fortunately you can bring your silver plated jewelry back to life using some common household items. Use this ONLY for silver plated jewelry, not sterling silver or rhodium plated jewelry. I'll detail how to polish those in another post.

Ok two steps, ready?

You'll need the following:

  • Baking soda (Because really, baking soda is the solution to all the world's problems.)
  • Old toothbrush 
  • Shallow dish 

Take about a tablespoon of baking soda (per jewelry piece) and mix it with just enough water to create a thick paste.

 It should be a little wetter than the consistency of frosting.

Take the toothbrush and gently coat the piece of jewelry in the paste. Use the bristles to work the paste into all the nooks and crannies. Make sure to leave out any parts of the jewelry that should not be coated (anything not metal, especially anything glued - and in this case I made sure to keep my acorn clear).

Let it sit for 1 hour. 

After one hour, take the toothbrush and give the piece another gentle scrub. You'll probably see some of the baking soda has discolored as the tarnish is being removed. Rinse the piece in cold water and dry gently. Done!

Step 1 may be sufficient, but if you're still seeing some brassiness or tarnish, bring out the big guns.

You'll need the following:

  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot tap water
  • Small bowl

Cut two pieces of aluminum foil. Line the bottom of the bowl with one. Set the other aside.

Measure 2 tbsp of baking soda and 1 tsp of salt into the bottom of the bowl.

Add hot tap water. Submerge the piece in the bath and cover it with the baking soda and salt. Again make sure to leave any parts that should not be submerged clear of the bath. (See my little acorn sticking out the side?)

Cover the bowl with the other piece of aluminum. Let it soak for 5 minutes. There will be some fun chemical reactions happening with the salt, soda and aluminum that will remove any remaining tarnish.

Remove the piece from the bath and rinse it with hot water. Gently buff it with a cloth - I recommend flannel for polishing cloth but you can also use terrycloth. And seriously I mean gently. Silver plate is silver plating over brass, so if you buff too hard you risk buffing the plating right off!

And voila!! Good as new!

Now to keep your silver plated jewelry from tarnishing so quickly in the future, store it in an air tight container. A small plastic baggie works great for this, or a plastic air tight container can work too.

There you go. All shiny and new! Leave a comment below if you tried this and it worked for you!

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