Caring for Your Silver Jewelry

Feb 24, 2013

I find myself grabbing for a favorite pair of silver earrings from time to time, only to put them down again, regretting that I haven't taken the time to clean them. So I figured it's high time for me to dig out these tips on caring for silver jewelry that first appeared in the Winter 2009 issue of Jewelry Stringing. I hope you find these suggestions to be as useful as I have.


Something to remember: the higher the content of pure metal, the less likely it is to tarnish. That's because it's the alloys, such as copper, in metals that actually encourage tarnish. So, Thai silver (95 to 99 percent real silver) is less prone to tarnishing than sterling silver (92.5 percent real silver) because it has a higher silver content. Heed the following advice to hinder oxidation:


  • Keep silver jewelry in tightly sealed plastic bags with moisture-wicking products, such as silica-gel desiccant (the packets often found in shoe boxes), antitarnish tissue paper and strips, or even chalk to reduce the exposure to oxygen and moisture.


  • To clean tarnished jewelry, rub it gently with a soft, nonabrasive polishing cloth. Cloths made especially for this purpose can be purchased in bead stores, jewelry stores, hardware stores, and more. When a polishing cloth becomes dirty, buy a new one. Do not try to wash and reuse. Better yet, have a spare on hand! Even consider having one you use just for jewelry you take on your travels.



(Photos © Sundance)


And there are lots of products on the market to make it even easier to keep your silver shiny and new! Check out the antitarnish flannel drawstring pouches and Tarni-Shield strips and tabs (, anti-tarnish paper and jewelry-size plastic bags (, polishing cloths (, and silica desiccant pouches (widely available).

Click here to find even more tips from Jane Dickerson, author of the book Chain Style: 50 Contemporary Jewelry Designs.

And Jean Campbell, Senior Editor of Beadwork magazine, offers up a slew of at-home remedies here. Be sure to check out the many suggestions from readers like you in the comments section at the bottom of that page (hint: baking soda or toothpaste, anyone?).

Let me know if you have a favorite method for shining up (or storing) your favorite silver pieces by leaving a comment below!

Shine on,

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Beverest wrote
on Mar 2, 2013 11:02 AM


Line a Pyrex bowl with foil. Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp salt, 3-4  drops of dish soap. Add hot (not boiling) water. Swoosh jewelry (do not put in any with stones) letting it make contact with the foil. Rinse under cold water. Dry with soft cloth. Voila!

on Mar 2, 2013 6:10 PM

When brushing my teeth to go out, I reach for my hidden soft toothbrush I use for just for my jewelry. I put just a small dab of toothpaste on the soft toothbrush and very lightly scrub the silver, gold, and gemstone jewelry until clean.

The toothbrush gets around and under intricate designs and mounted stones leaving them clean and bright. Diamonds have an affinity for regular soap and water leaving them cloudy every time you wash your hands. This removes the soap scum.

Using the toothbrush allows you to get underneath the set stones and you can check them during this process for loose stones and other issues.  This only takes a minute while you are getting ready to put on makeup or fix your hair and leaves your jewelry looking like new.

Susan M, PhD, RN

One thing to remember, place a paper towel over the drain when cleaning jewelry to prevent anything from going down the drain while rinsing. Rinse your jewelry with cool clean water and it will really sparkle.  Be very careful with pearls and opals, but most toothpaste won't hurt these if you are gentle with your brushing.

Also close by at my sink, is a jar of jewelry cleaner, I will use this to soak things while I finish my hair, but I find the toothpaste and quick brushing and thorough rinse just as quick and effective.

Debbie.Blair wrote
on Mar 8, 2013 12:50 PM

These are great suggestions. I've heard of the toothpaste idea, but have never tried it myself. And I'm intrigued by the Pyrex/baking soda/dish soap method. Thanks for your comments, Ladies. --Debbie