How should you clean your sterling silver jewellery with gemstone(s) ?
Cleaning sterling silver jewellery sounds pretty simple and yet you can find a lot of techniques, some with a good result and some others...Interesting to try...
We have been cleaning hundreds and hundreds of items over the years and we are can tell you with confidence that there is no magic formula when it comes to cleaning jewellery - to obtain the best result is to use an ultrasonic cleaner - but as not many people have one of these then the next best option is to use a good soft sterling silver polishing cloth - which you rub against the sterling silver metal (it has to contain a cleaning and replenishing agent to give a sparkling clean sterling silver jewellery) - Nothing else! As for the black spot, extra rubbing without scratching should work...
It is better to clean the jewellery frequently than to wait until the jewelry is really black...
When storing remember that exposing it to air promotes tarnishing, so use the zip lock bags to protect from scratches and tarnish.
Also, avoid storing your sterling silver with other metals, like pennies, and rubber, these too cause tarnish and damage.
If like most people do don't have an ultra sonic machine in your garage then ask your local jeweler to do it do you. There are many on the internet (i.e. eBay) but the good dones are not cheap! - Pearl and porous stone (such as opal) should not go into an ultra sonic machine (I do suspect that they have to remove the pearl to do a big clean up?)
So now that we have given our best advice let's start the other cleaning methods...
1. Baking soda :
Sterling silver reacts with moisture to create a layer of tarnish or oxidation on its surface. Baking soda activated by boiling water in the presence of aluminum, will dislodge the tarnish by making it bind with the aluminum, leaving the sterling silver clean and shiny again. This is the simple, organic way to clean and polish your sterling silver jewelry.
The baking soda method of cleaning is recommended only for jewelry that is all sterling silver and those that incorporate plastic, glass or crystal beads. Some gemstones are affected by the baking soda reaction--for example, turquoise.
Boil just enough water to submerge all of the sterling silver pieces.
Use aluminum to remove tarnish from sterling silver
Line a glass or plastic dish with a slightly crumpled piece of aluminum foil. If you have a small aluminum pan that you won't be needing for food preparation again, use that instead.
Lay your jewelry on the aluminum, making sure the silver touches the aluminum.
Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the jewelry.
Pour enough boiling water to immerse the jewelry. Bubbling should occur, giving off a rotten-egg odor (the sulfuric gases released by the cleaning action).
Move the pieces around gentle with a wood or plastic utensil to ensure that all of the silver surfaces come in contact with the aluminum. You will notice that the silver has become bright again.
Rinse the jewelry under tap water. To ensure that you don't lose small pieces like earrings and pendants, put a sieve over the drain to catch whatever may slip off your fingers.
Clean and shiny sterling silver jewelry
Wipe the pieces gently with an absorbent towel and polish with a soft cloth.
There are many jewellers who say to NOT use baking soda or any type of tooth paste on any jewelry. Not only does it cause very fine surface scratches it is nearly impossible to remove without professional help.
2. Silver polish and a toothbrush
Silver polish is kind of pastey/goopy. Coat the necklaces really thoroughly, leave it for 5 minutes or so, scrub it lightly with the toothbrush and rinse in warm water. You may need to do some spot scrubbing after that. It's pretty easy
Toothbrush bristles -- nylon or natural -- can scratch soft metals such as sterling.
3. Toothpaste : using tooth whiting toothpaste to polish sterling silver, it's non-toxic
It's not chemical free so could damage sterling silver jewellery and especially porous gemstones.
4. Toothbrush dipped into lemon juice and dipped in salt then scrub the precious metal with this.
Cons : toothbrush should be avoided and lemon juice could have a bad effect on gemstones
Some methods which we haven't tried yet but we will give a go soon ;)
5. Potato water :
Once the water has cooled, let the silver soak for about half an hour in the potato water. (You could take the potatoes out before doing this). Rubbing the silver in the starchy water cleans the silver
6. Denture cleaner tablets like “Steradent”. Drop a tablet in warm water with whatever jewels and metals you want cleaned and let the tablet do the hard work.
A few minutes later (up to 30 min soaking) just rinse it all off and you won’t believe how clean and sparkling it all is. One small box of tablets will last you for years and you will always have them on hand whenever you want to clean your sterling silver jewelry.
7. Using brown vinegar on your silver jewellery, just soak your jewelry in the vinegar over night